What do you find most compelling about your research?
The sheer diversity of topics I have been able to explore is one of the most enjoyable elements of my chosen career. From analyzing GPS collar data from bighorn sheep and mountain lions to assessing the value of post-disturbance forest ecosystems to rare and endangered wildlife, I have been able to explore a few of the many interesting patterns in biodiversity and spatial pattern.
How does citizen science support your research?
I have worked in the Mt. St. Helens blast zone for 20 years, beginning as a student technician, and now acting as a project lead on the continuation of a system of plots established in 1981 to track post-eruption succession. In the last two plot re-measurements, skilled volunteer botanists from western Washington and Oregon have assisted our team greatly by participating in week-long “pulses” of activity. These citizens, often graduate students in botany or environmental consultants, really help make the maintenance of this plot system possible!
What is one of your favorite moments in the field?
I love seeing a plant species that I have never seen in the field before. Also, any time I can see wildlife while I am working, I am reminded of the value of the research that my colleagues and I do in terms of understanding their habitat. A specific moment that comes to mind is from last September, where a pine marten inspected me from a tree only 7 feet away!