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Yingtong W

- Research Program Mentor

PhD at University of Missouri - Saint Louis


Climate Change Biology, Ecology, experimental design, environmental sciences, environmental justice, evolutionary biology, genetics, botany, microbial DNA analyses (bioinformatics), data science, meta-analyses, science communications


I am passionate about mentoring students that are interested in helping solve the biggest environmental issues of today: climate warning, wildfires, droughts, pesticides, heat island effects from cities, light pollution ... During my undergrad and graduate school training, I studied species conservation, biodiversity, and global change biology. I will be starting a new research position at Stanford University, working on how wildfires and prescribed burning affect our landscape and ecosystems. My previous Ph.D. projects are related to the species distributions of endemic plant species: I used R programing and species distribution modelling etc. to understand species distributions. I have mentored students that produced results that area complimentary to my research, and produced peer-reviewed publications! But I also would like to guide you through whichever area/field that you are interested in, and I encourage you to produce an independent science project. In my spare time, I like hiking, swimming, gardening, food foraging, and making jewellery out of nature materials :). I also like reading popular science books and National Geographic magazines. I like tree climbing, and I have been applying tree climbing in my own canopy research. I am also motivated to increase diversity and inclusiveness in STEM. I hope that by mentoring women and students of minority backgrounds, I can contribute to increasing diversity and representation in STEM fields. You can learn more about me using the links below: Website: Google Scholar:

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.

Wildfire impacts on forest regeneration and carbon storage

The raging wildfires in the U.S. are costing ecological and economical damage. It is an urgent task to assess the impacts of wildfires on forest regeneration and carbon storage. In this project, you will learn how to use publicly available information online, such as GIS databases of fire history, forest plot inventory, etc., to analyze the effects of fires on seedling and sapling density. You will then be able to learn how to perform basic statistical analyses in R program, and produce awesome maps that show fire frequency, vegetation, and carbon storage. This science project can yield an essay, a public presentation, and a popular science blog post!

How climate change can affect future distributions of rare species?

Climate change, such as global warming and longer drought, can threaten the existence of some of the rarest plants on earth. It is important to understand how future suitable habitats will change for these rare species so that we can target our conservation efforts in specific areas. In this project, you will identify a rare species that you like (it can be animals, plants, or fungi!), and gather the data online on its current occurrences. Then you will learn how to perform species distribution modeling to map its current and future suitable habitat areas. The changes in the amount or location of future suitable habitats can significantly affect the destiny of a rare species. By doing this project, you will not only learn skills in data analyses but also become the best ambassador for this rare species that you love. I hope that you can be vocal about species conservation by presenting your findings at society conferences, social media, etc.

Coding skills

R programing, Python, Excel, Tableau

Languages I know

Mandarin (proficient), Cantonese (profcient)

Teaching experience

I am motivated to guide students to explore and address big questions in climate change biology and environmental science. I have extensive background mentoring high-school or early-stage undergraduate students for independent projects in climate science, ecology, GIS, etc. My research and mentoring experiences range from greenhouse experiments, fieldwork, to online data gathering, statistical analyses, and graphic summary using R programing & GIS software. I am familiar with teaching and mentoring students from a diverse background.


Work experience

Stanford University (2022 - Current)
Postdoctoral researcher


Sun Yat-Sen University of Medical Sciences
BS Bachelor of Science (2017)
Life Science
University of Missouri - Saint Louis
MS Master of Science (2020)
Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics
University of Missouri - Saint Louis
PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics

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