I am an ecologist, ornithologist, and naturalist currently living in the Raleigh-Durham region of North Carolina. I received my Ph.D. in Biology from Texas Tech University in August 2017.
For my PhD dissertation, I was broadly interested in the intersection of animal behavior and selection and use of wildlife habitat.
In recent years, it has become obvious that segments of the public have become disconnected from science and scientists, and indeed, become quite suspicious of us as a group. I feel strongly that scientists need to make a bigger effort to connect with the public, and become advocates for science-based policy decisions if necessary.
Communication is key, and I feel that bridging the gap between stakeholders - whether it is scientists and the public, or scientists and industry, government, or other institutions - is crucial. I greatly enjoy facilitating such communication, particularly one-on-one and with smaller groups.
In Summer 2018, I was the Raleigh Coordinator, Bird Bander, and Educator for the Smithsonian Neighborhood Nestwatch program. I visited participants' homes, and communicated scientific results and ecological information while capturing and banding birds in their yards, to meet the research and educational goals of the program. For many, this is their only meaningful, face-to-face contact with scientists and these citizens contribute directly by entering resighted bird and nesting data. Participants are excited for this once-a-year visit and the opportunity to see "their" backyard birds up close!
Recently, I assisted two professors at North Carolina State University that are part of the Leadership in Public Science cluster that engage citizens to become part of the scientific process.
I assisted Dr. Madhusudan Katti with launching the Triangle Bird Count, to determine what habitat features influence diversity and abundance of urban birds. Survey points are distributed evenly throughout the included cities, not just parks where birds are known to occur. The target for launching this project throughout the major cities of the Research Triangle in Spring 2019.
I also aided Dr. Caren Cooper (who has a co-appointment with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences) with her Sound Around Town project. This project seeks to map soundscapes in urban neighborhoods and identify disparities among neighborhoods and cities, by having residents check out recording equipment from their local library. This project will pilot in Raleigh sometime in 2018.
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