"What is it you do, exactly?"
This question always makes me nervous because there are so many ways to answer: scientist, ecologist, geographer, conservation biologist. I usually just say I study animals. But more specifically, I'm an ecologist trying figure out how animals are responding to the many ways in which the earth is changing. I gravitate toward applied research where the questions have clear relevance for the issues, challenges, and problems related to how we manage natural resources. Though I've worked in a number of different systems, I'm particularly interested in coastal wetlands, which support all kinds of unique and obscure animals but are also vulnerable to drought, increasingly severe hurricanes, rising sea levels, and other consequences of human-caused climate change. I've always been fascinated by animals, but my undergraduate education focused more on the physical environment (e.g. soils, biogeochemistry, ocean circulation, and climate). I continue to incorporate these aspects of the physical environment into my work that focuses more on wildlife distributions, habitat use, range shifts, and movement, resulting in a very holistic approach to ecology that has fostered collaborations with other researchers across many disciplines. As of July 2022, I am an Assistant Professor in the Geography Department at UNC-Chapel Hill. Before that, I was a postdoc at the University of Florida in the McCleery Lab.
We're excited to announce that our proposal to investigate the effectiveness of mimicking small-scale disturbances (i.e., herbivory and wrack deposition) toward improving and expanding the habitat of coastal marsh obligates has been funded by the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Over the next year we'll be experimentally manipulating these small disturbances on the Gulf Coast of Florida and monitoring the response of Florida saltmarsh vole and eastern Black Rail, as well as the tidal macroinvertebrates they eat. Check out the opportunities page for our advertisement for a phd student to work on this project!
Pictured below: A specially designed camera trap for small mammals deployed in ideal saltmarsh vole habitat. The camera is inside the bucket and takes close-range pictures of animals that enter to inspect a bait cup. The entire trap can float up and down with the tides.