I discovered my passion for ecology as an undergraduate at Southwestern University, a small liberal arts college deep in the heart of Texas. Pursuing a major in biology while minoring in sociology, I came to realize that some of today’s most pressing environmental issues require an understanding of social causes and concerns as much as traditional biological knowledge. Studying biological invasions allows me to combine my academic interests and maybe solve a few of the world’s problems in the process.
I received my PhD studying ecology at the University of Notre Dame. I’m now an Assistant Professor in Natural Resources Management at Texas Tech University. My research focuses on improving our ability to detect and predict the spread of ongoing biological invasions. When I am not studying or cooking invasive species, I enjoy relaxing at home with my wife and kitty, playing hockey, and tasting new beers.
My primary invasive species of interest are invasive pathogens, i.e., emerging infectious diseases. I spent two years studying White-Nose Syndrome, a highly fatal fungal pathogen in North American bats that appears to have invaded North America from Europe. I got involved with Invasivores because I am interested in how a single invasive species can have ecosystem-wide impacts and what humans can do to mitigate those impacts.
I’m currently a PhD student at the University of Notre Dame, where I study disease transmission in Kenyan baboons. Although my current study organisms are neither invasive nor particularly edible, I like to stay updated on invasive species and the many ways to cook them.
When I’m not running around field sites or in the lab, I enjoy traveling, hiking, and perfecting my chocolate stout cake recipe.
In my earliest days, camping and hiking in the hills of Kentucky, I was awed by the beauty of nature- waterfalls, oak trees, the sound of whiporwhils. Thus my heart has always been that of a naturalist and a wanderer. Years later in my higher studies, I trained as a geneticist and ecologist (while dabbling in literature). Now, in practice, I split my time between computational biology/ theoretical modeling and communicating across tables (and national borders) with managers and policy makers about conserving endangered species. This diversity of experiences has brought a growing realization of connections between societal issues (food, land, health) and ecological sciences, and of a need to bring science into a more public conversation. I hope that, with the blog invasivore, I can be a part of practical and frank discussions about environmental problems, and their connections to farming, consumption, and social justice.
I currently live in a small city in Italy, after having spent a year in France at the foothills of the Alps. This time abroad offers me perspective on which environmental issues are most pressing in different countries. It also gives me lots of time to sample pizza, gelato, and canoli. I blog about food and work with a project called Conservation Genetic Resources for Effective Species Survival (ConGRESS).
My contributions here will focus on invasive woody species (trees, vines and shrubs used as ornamentals and fruit and nut crops). I will advocate for native species in your home and garden, and post delicious wine and dessert recipes for the invasives. Many woody species are inedible, so I will point out other uses of (dead, harvested) invasive species. Lastly, I am keen to discuss and explain genetic invasions, such as genes moving from crops to their wild relatives.
Ashley is a PhD student at the University of Notre Dame whose research focuses on the impacts of invasive rusty crayfish in Wisconsin and Michigan.
David is a research fellow at the Cooperative Institute for Limnology and Ecosystems Research at the University of Michigan. Dr. Costello earned his B.S. in Biology from Hobart College and his Ph.D. in Biology at the University of Notre Dame. Currently, his research focuses on how invasive species and chemical contaminants affect the structure and function of ecosystems.
I’ve been cooking all of my life. One of my first memorable birthday presents as a child was a cheese grater and measuring spoons. From dorm-rooms and bachelor pads, cabins and campsites to Sub-zeros and Vikings, I’ve at least managed omelets. At least two of those omelets also included caterpillars, so I can’t really say I’m conventional. Yet, my favorite new kitchen toy is old-school cast-iron. My theory on food is one of eating locally and/or organic as much as possible. I try and avoid overly-processed food-like substances. While I’m not sure high fructose corn syrup is inherently unhealthy, I think raw sugar or honey just tastes better.
I am a Post-doctoral researcher at MIchigan State University, though all my work here is my own and reflects my own opinions. For my PhD I studied the ecological and economic impacts of invasive tilapia in Zambia. Previously, I spent two years in there in the Peace Corps in an agriculture, forestry and environment program.
As a fisheries ecologist I will be bringing an aquatic flavor to the table in many of the Invasivore recipes and commentaries. My favorite dishes include cedar-plank salmon and grilled brook trout, both of which are invasive species depending on where you are. I am very much looking forward to sharing some “traditional” Zambian tilapia dishes, and I can’t wait to expand my diet, and these recipes, with other invasive species.
Joseph works for the Mauna Kea Forest Restoration Project in Hawaii. he grew up in Pennsylvania and received a BS from Penn State in Wildlife and Fisheries Science. After three years working with crocodilians and invasive Burmese pythons in Florida, he moved to Hawaii to work with endangered wildlife. Joseph has been an avid hunter and angler all of his life, and since coming to Hawaii, he has focused his efforts on hunting large invasive ungulates (cows, sheep, and pigs) that are so destructive to native forests.
Rachel developed an interest in eating invasive species during her research as an undergraduate at Calvin College. While studying Autumn Olive physiology, she would sometimes sneak a few “autumn berries” as she waited for her machine to collect data. (She also spent a summer studying Buckthorn, but was wise enough to stay away from munching on those berries as they have a “cathartic” effect on birds.) As a graduate student at the University of Notre Dame Rachel studies evolution and ecosystem processes in tidal marshes in the Chesapeake Bay and is currently stationed at Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. Although the plants she studies aren’t invasive, the marshes are seriously threatened by Phragmites, a formidable invader in wetland ecosystems. In her free time, Rachel enjoys listening to NPR podcasts, concocting new recipes, exploring the microbrew scene and happy hours around Washington, DC, and hiking in the Shenandoah Valley.
Peter is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Bioscience at Aarhus University. As a PhD student at the University of Notre Dame, Peter conducted research focused on the influence of annual salmon migrations and watershed disturbance on stream ecosystem function.
Chris is an ecologist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) in Edgewater, Maryland. As a PhD student at the University of Notre Dame he studied how changes to the biodiversity of stream invertebrates can affect decomposition in streams and stream networks. As an Ecologist at SERC, Chris is researching the causes of spatial variation in seagrass and freshwater macrophyte coverage across the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. He also continues his work studying changes in the biodiversity of stream invertebrates in river networks across North America.
A self-proclaimed modern day nomad, I was born in the Philippines, grew up in southern California—lived all over really—and now I do research as a graduate student in Indiana and the Pacific Northwest. Professionally speaking, my current area of focus is speciation and ecological genetics, and a common theme in my various projects over the years is evolution in agricultural systems. As a recipient of a GLOBES—an interdisciplinary program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF)through the Integrative Graduate Education, Research, and Traineeship grant (IGERT) —fellowship, I have received training which has better enabled me to view and ponder topics without my science hat on.
I take great joy in eating, cooking, and experiencing nature through various activities. I love to travel and anticipate many local and international invasivore field trips!
Though my research interests do not directly involve the study of invasive species, I have had my fair share of negative encounters with environmentally noxious organisms in the midst of doing field research. I carry around a machete with which to combat my gnarly “Himalayan” foes, and my machete and I have raised more than a few eyebrows. Apart from my personal vendetta against these deliciously juicy pests, I feel that there are great advantages to linking our awareness of the natural world to our culture, and Invasivore is an avenue to do just that. I believe that an increase in general knowledge of invasive species will be of great benefit to the field of invasive species and conservation biology. Knowledge and awareness will lead to action, and action will lead to results!
Karen holds a B.S. degree in Biology from the University of California, San Diego and an M.S. in Conservation Biology and Environmental Science from the University of Hawaii at Hilo. She has worked on oriental fruit fly proteomics at USDA- ARS, gene expression in Hawaiian Drosophila, aquatic invertebrates in Costa Rica, and most recently, reptile and amphibian genetics at Cornell University. Karen now works as a molecular ecology research technician in the lab of Dr. David Lodge at the University of Notre Dame.