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Dallas J

- Research Program Mentor

MS at Stony Brook University

Expertise

Marine Biology, Ornithology, Statistics, R, Programming, Data Science, Ecology, Evolution, Wildlife Biology, Spatial Ecology, movement ecology of wildlife, spatial ecology, projects that use big data to understand species distributions, habitat modeling in the marine environment

Bio

Ever since I stepped foot in a seabird colony during my undergraduate degree, I knew working with wildlife in the marine environment was what I was called to do. My passion for ocean science, and marine birds specifically, is driven by wanting to address critical questions related to conservation: where are threatened birds distributed, and what oceanographic features do they encounter during the months that they are at-sea, away from land? During my Master's degree, I developed expertise in Bayesian and frequentist data analysis in R, as well as spatial and movement ecology. Using movement modeling methods, I spend my time investigating dispersal and distributions of seabirds, using data collected by light-level geolocators and GPS tags. Leveraging these skills lets me peer into the unknown world of where birds go when they leave the mainland - it's fascinating every time the results show the far-flung places they reach. I potentially spend more time drinking specialty coffee than working on my research, and if I wasn't a marine biologist, I'd certainly open my own coffee shop. I'm passionate about all things coffee-related, and will chat to no end about my favorite roasts and roasters.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Using large citizen science data to draw insights on how the environment impacts migration

Data collection is a perpetual problem in field biology: it is costly, both in terms of time and money. A "good" sample size for some research might involve just 7 or 8 individuals. What if we leveraged data that is already being collected-- enthusiastically collected -- by volunteers across the nation? Passionate birdwatchers across the nation collect and submit data to eBird, the largest citizen-science project to date. eBird is a repository for bird sightings and a place to share data that birders have already been collecting for decades. Even better, eBird makes sightings data publicly available in data packages, letting curious researchers draw amazing insights from distributions of birds. For this proposed project, the researcher could download the eBird basic data set and process the movements of species of interest using the R package "auk". With locations of species in hand, the researcher could conduct habitat modeling with species distribution models, using environmental covariates that the researcher thinks might impact bird distributions. The researcher could then make this species distribution model available as an R "shiny app", which is a web-based application allowing for easy input of queries to produce high quality and impactful data visualizations.

Coding skills

R

Teaching experience

I have 10 years of mentoring and teaching experience in a wide variety of disciplines. From my first role as an instructor for outdoor education classes, I've greatly enjoyed teaching new skills and developing mentees' expertise. Following 4 years of serving as an outdoor instructor in wilderness skills classes, I mentored interns in field biology, teaching critical techniques for being a wildlife biologist, such as handling wildlife, species monitoring, bird banding, data management, and report writing. Returning to graduate school, I was a teaching assistant and instructor for climate science courses and Physics for 3 years while completing my degree.

Credentials

Work experience

Ocean Science Consulting (2022 - Current)
Ornithologist
National Audubon Society (2022 - 2022)
Research Supervisor
National Audubon Society (2019 - 2019)
Research Supervisor
Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife (2017 - 2019)
Research Supervisor

Education

Cornell University
BA Bachelor of Arts (2016)
Government/China and Asia-Pacific Studies
Stony Brook University
MS Master of Science
Marine Science

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