When did you Know Science Was Going To Be Your Chosen Career Path?
I always wanted to be a scientist, ever since I was young. I really liked math and science when I was a child so I knew that this is what I was going to do in my future. When I did my PhD study, that's when I knew that this is really what I wanted to do. I love to do research...to think about, design, and carry out my own research. That's how I decided to stay in academia.
What type of research have you been doing?
Most of my research focuses on coastal wetlands...the impact of sea level rise on the coastal wetlands in landscape. On one particular project, I worked along with social scientists. We looked at how the traditional ecological knowledge can be integrated with biophysical model predictions to help different people from different backgrounds better adapt to sea level rise and climate change in the future. I also work in forest ecosystems. For example, another project was concerned with predicting the hydrochemical responses of high elevation forested watersheds to interactions of climate change and atmospheric deposition. I am starting a new project, along with the University of Georgia, to study the carbon cycle at the coastal wetlands. We will use an eddy-covariance tower and remote sensing images. These techniques have been used in the forests and grasslands, but not much in the coastal wetlands. Students and postdocs will be teaming up on this project. We will have the tower up for at least one year, which is important not only to develop multi-scale cycle models, but also to provide continuous data on the marshes' recovery from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
What is your Advice for Aspiring women scientists?
You need to be persistent...passion drives it, working hard is the result, and not being afraid of failure greatly helps. Have a good balance of independent thinking and collaboration with others. Dare to be challenged and use your creativity. As a researcher, you are going to have to write your proposals. Even though you think yours may be the number one proposal it's not true because everybody is good and everybody has brilliant ideas. You are going to get a lot of declines and rejections. You need to be open to criticism. Just never give up!
What are your goals for the future?
My teaching goal is to broadcast the application of Bayesian statistics in ecology. I want to teach more and more on this topic.
As for the research, I want to do more synthesized work as a modeler and have more publications with a broader significance. My title is landscape ecologist...all this theory and background in landscape ecology has not been applied that much in the area of marine science. I feel my biggest accomplishment in the future will be to continue to apply some of the principles, ideas, and methodology in landscape ecology into the marine ecosystems. People are starting to apply the landscape ecology into seascape. More importantly, I want the models we develop and apply to turn into decision-making tools in natural resource management and ecosystem restoration efforts.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to read detective books. I spend time with family and friends. At Christmastime, I often ski with my son. I also like to jog.