Chelsea Little

 

Lyme
New Hampshire
United States
Zoology
Dr. Rachel Germain
2019

 

Research topic

Community Ecology, Ecosystems

Research Description

Global changes such as climate change, land use change, pollution, and fragmentation are increasingly affecting ecosystems. To understand the effects of these changes, it's not enough to study ecosystems in isolation: there are many connections between them, by plants, animals, and physical processes like the transport of nutrients and materials. My research looks at the linkages between ecosystems and how this can contribute to their functioning.

Why did you decide to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship at UBC? Did you consider other opportunities?

UBC was my top choice for a postdoctoral position, because the Biodiversity Research Center has one of the best ecology and evolutionary biology programs in the world. There is so much exciting research happening and a lot of collaboration between different scientists. I have broad interests in ecology and evolution, so it was important to me to be in a place where all of this expertise actually talks to each other. I'm really looking forward to joining this environment.

What specifically attracted you to your research group?

Dr. Germain's research touches on a lot of areas that I'm interested in: community ecology, spatial relationships between habitat patches, evolution, and how all of these contribute to coexistence of species. This is a creative and integrative way to look at biodiversity.

What advice do you have for new postdoctoral fellows?

I'm just starting, so I can't really say!

What do you like to do for fun?

I love being outdoors—that's one of the reasons I became an ecologist. In my spare time I run, hike, bike, and cross-country ski, so I'm looking forward to exploring a new outdoor playground, also for a more contemplative relationship with nature. Having this outlet is really important to my work-life balanc

What is the most enjoyable aspect of your postdoctoral fellowship?

I haven't started yet, but the ability to brainstorm and come up with new and exciting research avenues is already fun. I have a million ideas that I could follow, especially given the diverse research going on at the Biodiversity Research Center, and it will be challenging to narrow my research focus down out of all these possibilities.

What in your life or career has prepared you for this position?

I did an Erasmus masters degree in Europe, which was a consortium of four different universities; I took courses at two of them and did research projects at three of them. This exposed me to a lot of different academic cultures, both in terms of ways countries organize their universities and in terms of how group leaders run their research groups. It was great training to learn about different ways of working, and allowed me to try different topics that I thought would be interesting.

What does receiving this award mean for your career?

It is an enormous honor to be chosen as a Killam Postdoctoral Fellow. It's my first chance to develop my own independent research project, and this experience will be really important as I transition from student to senior scientist. I have some great role models among former Killam Fellows for how to develop my career.