As an ecologist, I study the structure and function of food webs in order to better understand our environment and the dynamics of biological complexity. My research tends to fall under the following themes:
- Food webs and species interactions
- Biodiversity and ecological stability
- Theoretical ecology: thought and practice
I’m interested in topics in theoretical ecology and population biology which explore how biodiversity affects ecological systems. As well, I’m interested in where the ideas and methods of theoretical ecology come from, and how they are applied. As such, though my work foregrounds theory and computational approaches, my research shows how theoretical insights resonate with empirical knowledge and ecological understanding.
This connection between ecosystems we observe and theories which help us make sense of and manage them, is reflected in projects I have worked on collaboratively that apply a range of approaches (theory, quantitative, field and lab) to grasslands and aquatic systems.
My independent and collaborative research has resulted in publications in top ranked peer-reviewed journals (e.g. Nature, Nature Communications, American Naturalist). Peer recognition of this quality research includes strong citations and three articles recommended by Faculty of 1000. Media engagement with this research (e.g. New York Times, CBC News, Discovery / BBC Two ‘Horizon’) further disseminates the importance of these ecological issues to public audiences. As well, I believe research impact includes making core ideas and concepts widely accessible, and thus contribute to key reference texts that provide both introductory and advanced reviews of the field (e.g. Encyclopedia of Theoretical Ecology (2012), Theoretical Ecology: Principles and Applications (new edition in development for Oxford University Press)).
I work with colleagues and stakeholders in order to investigate and manage complex biological systems. Local communities, industries, NGOs, government agencies and academics often come together to cooperate on research projects. I have participated in such initiatives, including working on developing predictive models of disease dynamics with the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Wildlife Research Center; collaborating with global scholars and local communities for a Conservation International project on indiscriminate fisheries in Cambodia’s seasonally variable Tonle Sap; and working alongside commercial fisheries and First Nations groups in Ontario to manage adaptive decision making for Great Lakes fisheries. Especially when working on issues of global change, natural resource management, and examining highly-impacted ecosystems, effective research and outreach requires a collaborative mindset and willingness to work with colleagues within and beyond the academic community.