I really don't like to talk about myself, but I am going to for about two sentences as a launching off point for the rest of the story. I learned yesterday that I've been elected to be a Fellow of the Ecological Society of America for research that increases our "understanding about causes and consequences of biodiversity change … from local to global scales." Since the announcement, it's been great to receive congratulatory notes from so many friends, colleagues, and former students. But, many of the previous fellows are pretty old, so it makes me feel like I'm getting to be pretty old.
But I bet well over 90% of the research I've done has been in collaboration with students (including many undergraduates), postdocs, or collaborators around the world. I wanted to tell you about some of my amazing students and collaborators.
Some of you might have seen Case Prager and Xin Jing in Bittersweet. They're postdocs working mostly on how biodiversity effects the functioning of ecosystems. Kenna Rewcastle is a new PhD student in Rubenstein who works on nutrient cycling and climate change. All three are rising stars and are co-advised by Aimée Classen, who is also a close collaborator in ecology, but a closer collaborator in life (she and I are married, FYI).
Nick Gotelli in Biology here at UVM is one of the world's best (and most famous) ecologists, and he and I have worked together since about 1999 on literally dozens of scientific articles. He's a great friend and wonderful mentor, and a big part of the reason I'm at UVM.
Rob Dunn was my first postdoc. He's now a best-selling author, renaissance thinker, professor at North Carolina State University, and my closest collaborator. He is a blast to collaborate with and even more fun to play ping pong with.
I have learned so much from my former PhD students - Matt Fitzpatrick, Lara Souza, Greg Crutsinger, JP Lessard, Mariano Rodriguez-Cabal, Katie Stuble, Lacy Chick, Quentin Read, and Chelsea Chisholm. Each of them continues to make important scientific contributions, and each has become a life-long friend.
Former Masters students like Windy Bunn work for the National Park Services. Jarrod Blue is an environmental lawyer. Jaime Ratchford, Josefine Møller, and Emilie Elten are all working for state agencies.
And of the dozens of stellar undergrads I've worked with over the years, a handful stand out. Raina Fitzpatrick spent the last two summers with us in the Rockies. She's not only a family friend now, but a brilliant chemist. Johannah Reed studied hemiparasitic plants and is going to be a wildlife biologist. Kerri Crawford is now a professor of ecology at the University of Houston, and a rockstar. Raynelle Rino works on social justice issues in the Bay Area. I could list a dozen or so more, but will pause here.
The work I do now is largely collaborative, but only with collaborators that I enjoy as people. Life's too short to work with people whose company you don't enjoy. And any time I collaborate, I always make sure my collaborators (or students) are smarter than I am (which isn't that difficult), because I want to learn something from every collaboration. Indeed, one of my favorite aspects of this job is collaborating with smart fun people. So, for those of you thinking about what comes next in life consider doing what I did - find a way to surround yourself with smart, fun people who will teach you something and make you laugh frequently.
Happy (snowy) Friday -
If you would like to work with Nate
Please email him a summary of your research experience and research goals, along with a CV.