“All time is time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all … bugs in amber.”
Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut
Since my dad is a scientist, I grew up taking any and all science-related courses offered, although, for a long time, I was never really sure if I was actually into science or if I liked science because my dad liked science. The first time I remember really getting excited about something science-related wasn’t until high school when I read Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” (a book given to me by my mom). For those unfamiliar with the book, a main theme is time, and that all moments (past, present, and future) always have existed and always will exist (time only appears to progress linearly to humans due to our limited senses). At the same time, I was also getting my first exposure to calculus and time as the fourth dimension. Ultimately (for better or worse), these two influences convinced me to pursue an undergraduate degree in mathematics and put me on the trajectory that I’m currently following today.
After finishing up undergraduate degrees in mathematics and biology, many valuable conversations with my dad and my growing interest in climate change (which I see as the greatest challenge yet faced by humanity) led me to the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology at Colorado State University. I earned my MS degree studying the effects of ultraviolet radiation on leaf litter decomposition and carbon cycling, while broadening my course work to include computer and atmospheric science. Finally, I made the move to large-scale science by beginning a PhD program at the University of Montana in the Numerical Terradynamic Simulation Group (NTSG) studying under Dr. Steve Running where it is my goal to become unstuck in space and time (nerdy Vonnegut reference).
My current work focuses on addresses large-scale climate, food, and energy issues via the application of global satellite data and ecosystem process models. My interests and the topics I will most likely blog about include predictive ecology, remote sensing, ecosystem process modeling, planetary boundary theory, and global biogeochemistry. Most recently, I completed a project in which we applied global satellite data on vegetation productivity to estimate the future potential for biomass as an energy source (bioenergy; blog post here; publications here and here). Work currently in progress includes an analysis of global agricultural trends and the future potential for meeting a growing food demand as well as an analysis quantifying global nutrient availability and the future potential for the biosphere to respond to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Outside of science, I love fly-fishing (catch and release) – I am a Wyoming native and spent a lot of time growing up fishing the North Platte River with my dad and brother. I am happiest in the wilderness, traveling, building things, and spending time with friends and family. Finally, I try to practice what I preach – I am a minimalist, I’m making the transition to vegetarianism, and my current building project is a home addition equipped with a 2kW solar system.
So it goes (a final nerdy Vonnegut reference).