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Open source science

Open source science

The world of makers and DIY tech has reached the world of ecology. I’m working on a project deploying scientific instruments that I built myself using inexpensive, easily orderable components, to answer important questions about endangered animals. And I hope it’s just the beginning. If you’re not

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Stumbling upon science

Stumbling upon science

Have you ever been out for a hike and come across some mysterious equipment, and wondered what it was doing? Many people across the Midwestern US are having just that experience when they come upon our research stations. Because they see my name and contact information, some

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The answer is: cold fronts.

The answer is: cold fronts.

The core of my dissertation research was to understand the mechanisms driving fall migration in both moths that are agricultural pests and in the insectivorous bats that eat them. Now you can read the primary results in this paper from the Journal of Animal Ecology. While I

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So you think you want to get a PhD

So you think you want to get a PhD

It’s been over a year since I successfully defended my dissertation and received my PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Tennessee. I want to share some of my thoughts about the process, the costs, and the rewards. One obvious conclusion is that it

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On acquiring a 6th sense: life as an ecologist

On acquiring a 6th sense: life as an ecologist

I’ve been thinking lately about how much richer my life is as an ecologist.  It feels as though I am walking through the world with a new sensory awareness.  It’s easier to say what it is not like: it’s not that I see truth or have complete

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Boo! at the zoo

Boo! at the zoo

  Every year around Halloween, the McCracken lab sets up a booth at the Knoxville Zoo’s “Boo at the Zoo” event.  We’re usually the only informational booth there, and we use the lure of free face painting to reel in kids and their parents.  Once in line,

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What makes conservation leadership effective?

What makes conservation leadership effective?

  Last fall I attended a week-long course from the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation on Effective Conservation Leadership.  With nine other conservation biologists from around the world I learned skills like conflict resolution, planning and decision making, and heard presentations by conservation leaders including Tom Lovejoy, Marshall

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Teaching ecology

Teaching ecology

  This year I’ve had the great pleasure to be a TA for the general ecology class here at the University of Tennessee.  The students are mostly juniors and seniors and are enthusiastic about the subject, which makes any teaching fun.  It’s also fun that much of

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My first (book) chapter!

My first (book) chapter!

  As every graduate student knows, one big part of the work is to read LOTS of material related to your chosen subject, and then digest it so that you can reframe it to inform your own work.  In fact, publishing research and then citing relevant parts

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A river of life flowing overhead in the dark

A river of life flowing overhead in the dark

If you live in the central or southern United States right now, you’re witnessing perhaps the biggest cold front and related fall migration event of the season.  With snow up north and a steady stream of northerly winds during the night, everything that can’t survive freezing winters

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