Since I was old enough to realize that animals had minds of their own, animal behavior has driven my interest in the outdoors. However, I believe conserving ecosystem function in our rapidly changing world is the greatest challenge we face today. My research interests are thus unified by a common theme: applying lessons from research in animal behavior to better inform conservation practice, irrespective of the particulars of the taxa or ecosystems under study. I want to work at the intersection of basic and applied ecology, performing research that aids efforts to conserve imperiled populations and ecosystems while also developing ecological theory and gathering empirical support for it. To start my career, I'll be researching the challenges climate change pose to bats in the Goheen lab at the University of Wyoming.
Aside from my research, my professional passion is increasing access to science through both open access publication and public outreach. All too often, important scientific developments are hidden behind paywalls that moderate their impact and prevent communities that can't or shouldn't pay (e.g. high school students, the general public, local governments, non-OECD university students) from engaging with the literature. The scientific community is increasingly developing promising new dissemination channels, but we must continue to make progress. Furthermore, the scientific community simply does not do a good enough job of communicating science compellingly and persuasively to the general public. Despite overwhelming consensus among scientists that pollution from human activity has mostly caused climate change, only 65% of Americans believe that. And despite the centrality of the principles of evolutionary theory to the field of biology, only 50% of Americans believe humans evolved from other forms of life and only 42% Americans consider themselves "very familiar" with the concept of evolution. Those are not acceptable figures, and we as scientists should search for new ways to communicate our results until we can convince more of the public to trust our findings.
Click here to check out the awesome research my better half conducts on the influence of environmental change on evolution in African fish.