My lab and our department aspire to promote the study of ecology and evolution without regard to race, sex, or sexual orientation. We acknowledge that our field has not always met this aspiration. We commit to work toward our aspirations going forward in hiring, student admissions and promoting broader intellectual examination of how race, cultural, and sex-based biases may color our research and educational activities.
The past and current composition of my lab reflects my philosophy that valued lab members need only one qualification–to have demonstrated passion, ability and motivation to carry out ecological research at a high level. My lab has welcomed roughly equal numbers of women and men, both straight and gay people, members of multiple religious traditions, U.S. and international citizens from rural, suburban and inner-city backgrounds, and ethnicities including African American, Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic, and Native American. We are bound together by our shared intellectual zeal for ecology.
I believe that it is important for scientists to reach a wide audience both within and outside of academia to disseminate knowledge as broadly as possible and to develop and cast as extensively a net as possible to bring scientific talent to the field. To this end, I have participated in a variety of outreach activities throughout my career, and my lab members have opportunities to be involved in these activities or those that they encounter independently during their training.
A large portion of my fieldwork is done on the lands of the Makah Tribe in Washington state. Over the entire span of my >three decade career, I have acknowledged their kindness in allowing me access to their lands in my publications, supplied them with copies of all work derived from their lands, and generated a fairly comprehensive bibliography of coastal scientific research on their lands for their use. As part of this research partnership, I interact regularly with their tribal biologist and environmental scientist staff sharing results and future plans, collaborate with the Makah Museum on research projects, facilitate visits of staff to my research site to share field methods and insights, work with the tribal higher education committee to recruit tribal college students with interests in ecology-related areas as field assistants, and participate and help secure funding for a Makah high school internship program, including arranging and supporting visits to Tatoosh Island to provide hands-on experience in relevant research methods (for example, Makah interns contributed to this video).
I additionally engage and share research findings with other stakeholders on the Olympic Peninsula where most fieldwork is based, including scientists and managers of Olympic National Park, the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, the U. S. Justice Department, Merrill and Ring Timberlands, the Lower Elwah Klallam Fisheries Department, and the local Streamkeepers group.
I also make presentations on research and ecology in a variety of settings. I have spoken to K-12 students both in under-served areas of rural Washington (Clallam Bay, Neah Bay), as well as on Chicago’s south side. I have led BioBlitzs at the Indiana Dunes National Park. I work with the Homewood Science Center, which serves southern Cook County, where I have organized and presented Pop-Up Science programs, contributed to citizen science initiatives, and participated in nature education fundraisers at the Isaac Walton Preserve. I present talks to the broader adult community at various venues including the Homewood-Flossmoor Science Pub, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Lake-Cook Audubon Society, and have led alumni tours in the tropics.
Where possible I partner with various media organizations to disseminate research findings and ecological information to the wider society, including the New York Times/AP, National Geographic, National Wildlife, Oregon Public Television, NHK World, and local TV stations.
I encourage students in the lab and in the wider programs I am part of to participate in these activities, and lab students have also contributed by following their own opportunities such as tutoring in Chicago Public Schools, offering continuing education through the University of Chicago Graham School, and collaborating with Chilean National Parks.