UVic ecologists form their own academic ecosystem

- Mitch Wright

There is a strong desire for ecological knowledge at UVic, and ecologists located across campus are fulfilling the need.

“There is a massive demand for ecology courses and research opportunities, both from undergraduates and grad students,” says Dr. Brian Starzomski (environmental studies). “It is a priority on campus, and we just want to advertise that.”

To help get the word out, a new Ecology@UVic group started in September to bring together faculty members, grad students and post-doctoral fellows dispersed throughout various departments.

Because UVic’s ecological expertise is so widely spread across campus, people didn’t often get a chance to gather in one place to share ideas, discuss challenges or just socialize—until now. The vision for Ecology@UVic is to provide a forum for discussion and collaboration, as well as to enhance the already outstanding ecological research that takes place here.

“A lot of very interesting and amazing ecology goes on at UVic, but it wasn’t really as connected as it could be, which is important. A lot of insight comes from interdisciplinary interaction, especially on applied ecological problems,” says Dr. Chris Darimont (geography), one of three main organizers of the group along with Starzomski and Dr. Julia Baum (biology).

The trio—all new to campus in the past three years—started thinking seriously about forming the group last spring, but also note that the idea had percolated for years at UVic; it just needed a push forward.

The group’s website currently lists 35 faculty members of the group, which plans bi-weekly meetings for journal-group discussions and informal seminars.

“Those meetings will create the ideal environment for stimulating discussion and spurring greater collaboration, which is beneficial both for professors and students,” says Baum. She adds that having a formalized venue and website also create an increased profile for the ecology work occurring at UVic, which aids in attracting new grad students and post-doctoral fellows.

“Just having these young, bright minds all together and providing a collegial environment to network, to solve problems, sows the seeds of collaboration, which are important in every scientist’s life,” says Darimont. “It’s very much something we designed in large part for the value it’s providing for students.”

More information: http://web.uvic.ca/~ecol/index.html


In this story

Keywords: ecology, environment

People: Brian Starzomski, Julia Baum

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