Earlier this year Ivis Chan, a PhD student from the School of Applied Sciences, was awarded a Santander Scholarship to visit Yale University. Here she talks about the benefits of the visit to her research…
I am a postgraduate researcher in the School of Applied Sciences at Bournemouth University, supervised by Professor Adrian Newton and Dr. Duncan Golicher. My research focuses on defining patterns of tree species diversity that can be used to inform conservation planning within Central America. This species-rich region harbours many species not found elsewhere in the world, including endemic primates, birds and plants. The region’s growing population and widespread poverty mean it is an area of highly competing land use interests. It is therefore important to identify and prioritize areas with unique groups of species for conservation efforts.
In January and February, I visited Professor Walter Jetz’s lab at Yale University. The purpose of my visit was to start collaborating with Dr. Dan Rosauer (a post-doc in the Jetz lab) to develop a method for identifying areas containing unique groups of tree species. During my visit, I received training in the specific method and software which I will implement during my research.
In addition, I had the opportunity to participate in graduate seminar discussions led by Professor Jetz on hotly-debated ecological topics such as “niche conservatism” and the “heritability of species range sizes.” Chatting with members of the Jetz lab over many pad thai lunches was also a great learning experience, as I heard about their various research projects and discussed options for tackling some of the challenges in my own research.
As an added bonus, I also had the opportunity to attend a conference on Landscape-Scale Restoration in the Tropics organized by the International Society of Tropical Foresters. This was a great opportunity to network and to learn about research prospects in forest restoration in tropical areas around the world, including my study region.
This exchange visit was a very rewarding experience for me and I would encourage others to take advantage of such opportunities. This partnership started with a simple exchange of email communication. It is therefore important that researchers are encouraged and enabled to build collaborations as this fosters the exchange of ideas that knowledge is built on. The Santander grant offers a good chance for researchers to put their collaborative ideas into action.
Many thanks to the Santander grant for sponsoring me. Thanks to the BU Research Development Unit and Applied Sciences Administration Office for helping me to coordinate the details. Finally, thanks especially to Professor Jetz and the members of his lab, especially Dr. Dan Rosauer, for welcoming me and sharing their expertise.