2020

After a long hiatus through just about all of 2019, I’ve decided it’s time to get back to this blog! There are fun, interesting, and exciting things afoot for this year and I miss the writing.

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I’m in St. Louis, working in the biology department at Washington University. I’ve just wrapped up the final year of my NSF postdoc working with Jonathan Losos, but I’ll continue working in his lab through the rest of the academic year, ’til I start on a new adventure this summer (more soon on that!).

St. Louis was a bit of an adjustment after the year in Paris. That said, there were a number of pleasant surprises – the Loop in University City has fun restaurants, Forest Park is an amazing urban park with free museums, a world-class zoo, summer theaters, and miles and miles of trails for walking and biking. Now that I’m starting to know my way around, St. Louis is feeling more and more like home.

I’m still keeping up with the lizards. This last year didn’t have quite as much traveling or fieldwork as the previous few. I’ve mostly been at my desk, plowing through data and writing up results. I much prefer the lizard wrangling, but everything in balance. I’m still making sure to get my hands on the occasional anole whenever I can. This little carolinensis was caught in Georgia and was the subject of an impromptu lecture for my 3-year-old niece and nephew. They’re very patient with their nerdy uncle.

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After Jonathan’s move from Harvard to WashU the lab’s been going through a number of changes. The PhD students I’d gotten to know at Harvard stayed in Cambridge and there are a couple of new postdocs out here in St. Louis. That’s made for a lot of long-distance lab meetings and a bunch of new people to get to know at WashU. One of Jonathan’s projects upon returning to St. Louis has been overseeing the Living Earth Collaborative. Getting to know the four new LEC postdocs has been particularly fun.

Instead of delving too far into 2019 recollections I’m just going to pick right up on 2020 goings-on. First, was a course I taught at Colby College in Maine this January. I’ll write next about that experience – it was my first time teaching a course of my own! I think I may have learned even more than the students. Here’s the course description to whet your appetite until the next post (I promise it’ll be this year this time…):

Humans are changing landscapes at an unprecedented pace with cascading consequences for ecosystems. How do scientists measure what has been lost and decide how to protect what remains? This course explores topics in human land-use, biodiversity conservation, rapid evolution, and extinction in the Anthropocene. Using museum specimens of extinct lizard populations as a case study, we will discuss the value of museum collections, the tradeoffs between species conservation and human development, and future avenues for biodiversity conservation. Through lectures, hands-on lab work, and reading both scientific and popular-press articles, students will learn about – and debate – the challenges of biodiversity conservation in a rapidly changing world.

 


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