I am currently on the lookout for a Post-doc position related to community ecology, plant functional traits, or ecological networks. Please contact me if you would like to discuss research ideas.
Painted a dust jacket for my dissertation
I recently ordered printed copies of my dissertation, but wanted to make a custom cover that better reflected my academic journey. I consulted with my creative muse and the outcome was an odd mix of impressionist meets folk art.The lines and dashes in the sky are representative of species elevation range-sizes, with other features that summarize the plant communities found along a mountain gradient.
As a special way to say thanks for the past seven years, I mailed the original painting to my advisor Dr. Sabrina E. Russo.
Call me Dr. Whitman
So the big news in my life is that I passed my dissertation defense! You can now call me Dr. Whitman. I will be posting some updates on my research in the near future. Stay tuned!
Video of my dissertation defense
Special thanks to Marty for helping with the A.V. video stream, and for bringing me Rhododendron flowers (delivered straight from Oregon!) that I put in my hair. It was also wonderful to have my mom there for encouragement.
Fast forward to ~ 8 minute mark to skip the set up and pre-talk introduction by my advisor.
So my mind as of late has been devoted towards thinking about null models. The theory, the R code, and most importantly which approach will most strongly address my research questions. In other news I am hiding out for a little while, to write and gather my thoughts during the dark winter months.
New publication on GIS for vegetation modeling
New publication entitled: Dynamic Vegetation Modeling of Forested, Woodland, Shrubland, and Grassland Vegetation Communities in the Pacific Northwest and Southwest Regions of the United States, part of a General Technical Report for the Forest Service (PNW-GTR-896), associated with the Integrated Landscape Assessment Project.
Prior to working on a PhD, I was part of this amazing team of over fifty researchers, with partnerships associated with Oregon State University, Portland State University, Oregon Biodiversity Information Center, Forest Service, and other natural resource/conservation groups. My main contribution involved creating a single GIS layer that combined forest and habitat management plans from public and private agencies, spanning across Oregon and Washington.
Passed my comprehensive exam! Woohoo!
Made coffee, dark strong Ideas flow, manifest as ink Time to write! Go go!
New publication on orchids !
So happy to say that my paper "Terrestrial orchids in a tropical forest: best sites for abundance differ from those for reproduction" with Dr. Jim Ackerman has just been accepted for publication in Ecology! This is project started many years ago when I was an REU intern at the Luquillo forest in Puerto Rico, complimented by some snazzy new stat techniques that I learned along the way. Here's a direct link to the paper (on the Ecology website), or you can view a copy of the pre-print pdf. As a side note, I have decided to switch from date-based to event-based headers. That is I how I tend to remember the passage of time anyway, by interesting blips that I can tell stories about.
Chill'n with Vaccinium and Rhododendron species up on Doi Inthanon, Thailand's tallest mountain. I just visualize the mist and 'elfin' vegetation when stuck at my desk in Nebraska writing proposals or emails...
Back to Nebraska
So I am back in Nebraska after traveling to Maine for the Gordon Research Conference. Let's just say I was blown away by all the amazing talks on macroecology, metabolic scaling, allometry, global climate change modeling, and patterns of species distributions. I presented my poster on testing Rapoport's Rule for species-rich genera of the Malay Archipelago. Now to write up everything!
Saw some lovely Rhodies on the summit of Mt. Kinabalu
I climbed a mountain! Not just any mountain, but Mount Kinabalu on the island of Borneo, home to close to roughly two dozen endemic Rhododendron species. Did you know that R. ericoides (a tiny Rhododendron with leaves that could be mistaken for a mini pine tree) can be found growing on ultramafic soil and granite (all the way to the mountain summit!)? Great mini voyage to introduce me to possible field sites in the future. Sabah Parks also has a great herbarium. I also visited Doi Inthanon, the tallest mountain in Thailand, as a possible alternate site. Rhododendron species are found there too!
Serpentine Ecology Conference
Traveled across the globe to attend the International Conference on Serpentine Ecology in Malaysia on the island of Borneo. My oral presentation was entitled "Does Rapoport's rule apply to ultramafic flora of Borneo?". This side project was an interesting chance for me to integrate macroecological concepts with the study of edaphic specialization.
Ye olde school map of Borneo. Yep, that's where I am going.
Winter hibernation mode has kicked in yet again. I have been hiding in my cave, pondering interesting ideas, reading papers, revising manuscripts, refining my R code, and learning the in's and out's of various datasets. Good news is that my preliminary results are coming together nicely
Happy to announce that I just received a scientific research grant from the American Rhododendron Society! Yay! I am looking forward to spending some time in herbariums and botanical gardens around the globe, collecting new and exciting info on Rhodie functional traits. Did I mention that Rhododendrons are awesome?
Time flies, lets just say that I have been focusing on my studies and discovering some pretty amazing things along the way. I just got back from an international meeting on Rhododendron conservation at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh, home to the world's largest and oldest living collection of tropical Rhododendrons. It was a good chance to present some of my prelim research on patterns of species diversity along elevation gradients, and how this compares to variation in functional traits such as leaf area or chlorophyll concentrations. Later this summer I will be sharing my poster at to the annual Ecological Society of America meeting; it is a great place to discuss new ideas.
Winter is a great time for writing. Right now I am pondering the terrestrial orchid Prescottia stachyodes, linking habitat characteristics with patterns of abundance and vegetative traits. I am hoping to have draft worth reading by New Years...
In other news I returning to the Pacific Northwest once again to collect more Rhododendron data...I have a hunch about their adaptions to nutrient limitation that I want to test in the near future.
Lastly, I am visualizing fog drenched forests and the vegetative transition as we meander to habitat above the tree-line. Such an interesting place. So tell me, why are there so many Ericaceae nestled here?
Fall semester haiku:
Flourish, under stress Gold mines, acidic bogs, trees above, Little plants, why this niche?
I blink and the month is almost over! I spent the early portion of the month collecting additional Rhododendronfunctional trait data from botanical collections in Oregon; appreciating the beauty of Mt. Hood's sub-alpine meadows and mountain hemlock forests; and presenting a poster on the distribution patterns of tropical orchids at the Ecological Society of America conference. After all the excitement of summer research I have returned to Lincoln for an intense, yet fascinating, combo of courses (plant ecophysiology, ecological statistics, and scientific writing) and I am learning the art of T.A.'ing general Bio...
June & July 2012
Spent the past few weeks immersed in the OTS Tropical Plant Systematics Class in Costa Rica, taught by amazing folks like Brad Boyle, Robbin Moran, and Richardo Kriebel. Great opportunity to learn the art of ID'ing major plant families based on vegetative characteristics (rather than relying on finding flowers in reach). I also took advantage of time spent exploring high elevation habitat types - wet montane forests dominated by towering oaks and páramo shrublands above the treeline. Left feeling excited about preliminary research on functional traits and phylogenetic diversity of understory plant communities.
Back in the Pacific Northwest, collecting preliminary Rhododendron data. Good times.
* Preliminary analyses of Vireya Rhododendron functional traits along an elevation gradient is taking shape, especially interesting to compare results when accounting for phylogenetic signal. Next step is collect more data on other characteristics of interest (specific leaf area, wood density, etc...). Botanical gardens here I come!
* Presented poster on Luquillo research on Prescottia stachyodes (orchid) at the grad-student symposium. Looked at landscape factors influencing orchid occurrence, abundance, leaf size, and reproductive effort. Good practice for ESA conference later this summer.
* Included as a co-author on the modeling/GIS chapter for the Integrated Landscape Assessment Project technical report. This manuscript was created by an amazing team of folks in Oregon who I worked with before grad school.
Mixing together a spicy combo of ideas. Multi-scale ecological patterns, ponderings of niche specificity or dispersal limitation, wondering why plants looks the way they do, and I am adding a dash of community phylogenetics into the mix for good measure. Let ideas cook for awhile. Novel research questions to be served piping hot. Tasty.
This month is all about trees - phylogenetic trees.
Happy new year! Resolutions for 2012 include learning how to build a snazzy phylogenetic tree, finishing my bowerbird painting, and traveling to far away places in search of exotic leaves and flowers.
The snow outside leaves me with the desire to hunker down with a warm cup of tea and write. 'Tis the season to dust off old data-sets...
The seasons change, I watch the leaves fall. The theme for this month is pondering possible research questions for the future.
My life revolves around learning new things, asking questions, and trying to understand the patterns of the natural world. This semester I am taking classes on secondary plant compounds, evolution, a medley of mathematics (calculus, modeling, etc..), biogeography, and reading everything that might further my understanding of ecology.
Settling into the pace and style of Lincoln, Nebraska. Land of corn, football, prairie, and unpredictable weather. I keep scanning the horizon in hopes of seeing a mountain.
So my big news is that I am now officially a part of Dr. Sabrina Russo’s lab at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This will be my academic abode for the next few years. Tantalizing opportunities on the horizon include research on tropical islands with unusually high levels of biodiversity and working with plants that have specialized adaptations to specific soil types. Stay posted for interesting news from the prairie-jungle…
I packed my bags and took a leisurely road trip across the country with my father. The route from the Pacific Northwest was not very efficient, but it was quite interesting. We meandered along the Colombia River, cross the Craters of the Moon, zig zagged up through the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park, and then headed across the Badlands and open prairie grasslands until we reached the smack dab middle of the lower 48 states.
Published my first papers! Whoo hoo! One in Lankesteriana International Journal on Orchidology and the other in the Australian Journal of Entomology. Check them out on the publications page!