About kellysierra

Ecologist. Runner. Domestic Goddess. Currently on science adventures in Europe.

An American postdoc in Europe

In January of this year my boyfriend, Andre, and I packed up our house in Fort Collins, CO, dropped our dog, Ginger, off with my mom and moved out of Colorado and the country. This marked the beginning of an international tour, and we were excited. Andre headed to live with his brother in Canada, while I flew solo to Germany for a three month position. We then met up in May in the Netherlands where I began a 2 year postdoc. The last 8 months have been enlightening, exhausting, and overwhelming. While we still haven’t figure everything out, we are having an amazing time. Here is our story, and a few tips for anyone embarking on a similar adventure- punctuated with a few on my instagram photos.

Andre and I, just visiting the #Colosseum in #Rome in the rain #nbd #postdoclife

Andre and I, just visiting the #Colosseum in #Rome in the rain #nbd #postdoclife

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Shaken or stirred: what’s your method of choice?

Shaken or stirred?

WHAT: We are looking for early career ecologists to participate in a survey of statistical approaches. We will provide you with a small data set and we ask that you spend no more than a few hours analysing the data in any manner of your choosing. If you are interested, please reply to the address below and we will provide you with more information and the data promptly.

WHY: We are interested in the approach used by ecologists in the analysis of a standard ecological data  for a commentary on statistical methods. The results may be published in summary form, and no personal identification will be disclosed for any reason. Our results will also be posted to this blog when available.

PLEASE REPLY TO johnsg@uvm.edu by Wednesday May 29th.

A microbial perspective

By Kelly S Ramirez

This past winter went by in a hurry. Workshops, data analysis and proposals, combined with a few weekend trips resulted in surprise and slight panic when I realized on Monday that it was already April 1st. We all tend to get caught up in work and our daily lives, and I sometimes question if I make enough time to appreciate the science I work on.

Currently, I am working on a project surveying the biodiversity in the soil in Central Park NYC. We are examining all the life- bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes -in the soils of Central Park, and this is one project where I really do appreciate the underlying science. Continue reading

Soil Equality

Forest soil under lodegpole pine in Lyons, Colorado. Photo courtesy of Andrea Borkenhagen, 2013.

Forest soil under lodegpole pine in Lyons, Colorado. Photo courtesy of Andrea Borkenhagen, 2013.

By Kelly S. Ramirez, PhD

As a soil ecologist, I am inevitably asked about dirt (and lawn care), but mainly dirt. Depending on the person and my mood and the event, I may quip back, ‘dirt is under your fingernails.’* Some inquirer’s eyes will glaze over, realizing I was the wrong person to make small talk with at said event. Others will eye me apologetically.

Soil, not dirt, is the foundation of our terrestrial ecosystems, maintains our food sources, cleans and cycles our water, regulates climate change, controls disease, and supports our cultural activities and recreation (Wall and Nielsen, 2012). Continue reading

In our own backyard

By Kelly S. Ramirez

Hello Readers, Happy New Year and welcome back to Early Career Ecologists! We are excited to get back into our normal posting schedule. Here’s to a productive and stimulating 2013.

Over my holiday break I read The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. (I finally got around to reading it after hearing this NPR interview). Briefly, The Dog Stars is a novel about a man, Hig, living in post apocalyptic Colorado, nine years after a plague has wiped out most of the human population; he is left with his dog, the stars and a neighbor with a massive weapons arsenal.

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What I found so great about the novel, first, was Heller’s use of poetry and disjointed prose to highlight Hig’s loss – of his family, his surrounding environment, really the entire world. Amidst the sorrow though, Heller maintains a sense of hopefulness and lightheartedness that makes this a beautifully written and enjoyable novel.

But I am not here to write a book review- check out here and here if you stumbled upon this page for that reason. Though if you are wondering, I would say the catastrophic feel of this book falls somewhere between The Road, by Cormac McCarthy* and WALL×E, the lighthearted animated Disney film about a futuristic robot. This post is instead focused on the role of literature and film in public understanding of climate change. Continue reading

Politics aside, can climate change and science policy be successful?

By Kelly Ramirez

This past week my fellow ECEcol contributors have posted on climate change science, public perceptions, and the need for action. With election results in and Barack Obama the clear winner, what does this mean for the climate change and environmental policies of the US, and the world?

How will the Obama Administration move forward with climate change policy? Photo credit: Kelly Ramirez, 2012

While there was a collective sigh of relief across the country by democrats, the scientific community is still holding its breath. How will President Obama’s environmental policy evolve over the next four years? Continue reading

A few of my favorite things…

By Kelly Ramirez

The influence of global changes (climate change, nitrogen deposition, urbanization, etc) on microbial communities is really one of my favorite research topics and sustains my job as a science policy – microbial ecologist (that is a thing, right?). Last month Drs. Jennifer Lau and Jay Lennon published in PNAS, on a few of my favorite things– “Rapid responses of soil microorganisms improve plant fitness in novel environments.” Soil, microbes, plants, global change, complex interactions- what more could you ask for? Continue reading