How would you explain the broader significance of your work
to non-researchers or academics from other disciplines?
I study omnivory or when in an ecosystem you have an organism that eats both plants and animals. Generally when you have omnivory it’s good for an ecosystem because it prevents prey populations from growing too big and then crashing towards extinction. PhD research explored what the implications are of introducing omnivory to a new ecosystem. Now in my Post-doctoral fellowship, I am studying how impeding the movement of omnivores can render ecosystems more vulnerable to environmental change.
What sparked your interest in Ecology?
Is there or was there an alternative to your career path?
I worked one summer in Algonquin Park, the largest provincial park in Ontario, Canada. It was there that I realized that as an ecologist your office is the lake and the trees along the lake. After that experience, I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else.
Please share a piece of advice for young researchers and another one for more experienced ones.
Research is a unique endeavor in that your objective is to think and ponder and generate new concepts. Relish it. Read as much as you can so you know whose shoulders you are standing on. Then take a walk to let the ideas percolate.
Collaborate more. Although the legacy of research is to work alone, science leaps when we work with other researchers. This is why I believe open science is the future where collaborations are limited geographically or temporally.
Which are your favorite sources for articles?
There are some blogs I follow including Dynamic Ecology which highlight particularly novel or exciting research in ecology.
Who are the contemporary researchers that have influenced you the most?
I am fortunate to be doing a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Kevin McCann whose theoretical work inspired many of my empirical experiments. I am also inspired by some inspiring women in ecology including Jane Lubchenco and Elena Bennett.
How can you and other researchers in Ecology benefit from using PaperHive?
Like its namesake, PaperHive is a tool that facilitates collaboration amongst groups of researchers working on a common project or paper. Because I believe collaboration is the future of science, PaperHive can be a tool to realize that future. Built by strong advocates of open science, it integrates many tools and resources that promote open science.
Which one is your favorite PhD comic?
I had the great fortune to see Jorge Cham speak at McGill University and not only do I appreciate his medium of science communication, he also admitted that he was not a talented artist when he began this endeavor but like any other pursuit he improved as he progressed. One of my favorite comics is “What do you do?” I think it highlights the importance communicating your research to a spectrum of audiences and the vacillations in emotions you experience during graduate school.