Serving on Graduate Student Committees

Monday, January 25, 2010

As one of my roles as conservation ecologist at Fairchild, I serve on committees of graduate students in the Miami area and in other parts of the world.  This service is really a two-way exchange, as I can learn a great deal from the students with whom I work and I hope they can learn something from my experience too. 

I’ve come to St. John’s Canada, to serve on the dissertation committee of a doctoral student, who has been studying at Memorial University. (Nighttime temperatures are 7oF and daytime temperatures don’t reach 30 oF! Brrrrrrr! And we thought it was cold in early January! I feel a bit like the Pillsbury doughboy, as I am wearing every warm thing I own.) While here giving a department seminar about Fairchild’s South Florida Conservation Program several years ago, I met this student when she was just beginning her dissertation research. Interested in the impacts of an agricultural pest moth on a rare species of Brassicaceae, Susan’s research overlapped with several of my own interests. Her major professor, Dr. Luise Hermanutz and I met while we were both on sabbatical at Kings Park Botanic Garden in Perth, Australia. In the small worldwide community of plant conservationists, it’s been my delight to serve as her external examiner. It is nice to witness a young scientist make good contributions to the fields of plant demography, reintroduction conservation biology, and plant-herbivore ecology. 

In Canada, the doctoral candidate and the committee wear full academic robes to the oral defense, so this will be quite a formal event.  I’m looking forward to it!