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David H

- Research Program Mentor

PhD at Washington University in St. Louis

Expertise

Biological Science, Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, Climate Change Biology, GIS (Geographic Information Systems), Data Science, Bioinformatics, Botany, Environmental Justice & Sustainability, Metabolomics, Population Genetics

Bio

I am enthusiastic about working with students who are passionately seeking solutions to challenges, both local and global. I can lend my expertise to students interested in: environmental science, ecology (plant or animal), climate change science, biotic interactions and chemical defenses, experimental design and scientific reasoning, and of course the gathering, analysis, presentation and documentation of the relevant data used to find answers these issues. I am a lifelong biologist that started working at a Forest Preserve as an undergrad, where I got most of my early practical experience as a biologist. My doctoral dissertation research looked at how local biotic interactions affect diversity patterns over large regions. It was all about how parasites, herbivores and other natural enemies affect the range of tree species and how they are positioned locally. I gauged the differences in and strength of species interactions by analyzing defensive chemical compounds in the tree host’s leaves. I have always liked getting out and exploring, so I am an avid hiker and diver. Eating and cooking are a few of my favorite things. I am an arborist, and I still climb trees for fun these days ; ).

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.

Common Garden Climate Change Experiment

I can help a student gain experience in experimental design by conducting a study that looks at the growth of different plant species under a present and current climate change scenario, using a common ecological study tool: The Common Garden Experiment. The experiment would involve planting a group of 3-6 plant species together outdoors and planting the same 3-6 spices together in a greenhouse where the environment can be controlled to simulate a future climate scenario. A variety of trait data could then be measured for each group for growth (plant biomass, growth rate, height), survival (total time survived, number of individuals, amount of herbivory), fecundity (seed count, pollinator interaction, length of flowering period), as well as a host of other physiological and environmental variables. After planting data on each individual of each species would be collected weekly or bi-weekly in a notebook and entered into a spreadsheet software. The data would then be analyzed in a statistical computation languages such as R or Python and written up into a scientific manuscript that could then be submitted for publication, or into a presentation (using Microsoft Power Point, Google Slides and InkScape Editor), if desired.

Methods, Meta Analysis or Review Paper

Most of the fields related to Evolution and Ecology currently undergoing rapid advancements as more and more technology is brought to bear in conducting research. A student can gain valuable scientific research and writing experience, as well as a possible publication by doing an in-depth dive into a particular method or concept currently important in the Evolution and Ecology fields. Their research on the most up to date methods/ ideas would then be written up into a methods or review paper that covers the background and history leading up to the particular innovation, it's place in the current research landscape and the expected future contributions or importance of the innovation to the field. A student could also take advantage of previously conducted analyses, by conducting a meta-analysis. A meta-analysis uses standardized, quantitative methods to re-analyze previous research or data to extract new conclusions (and hopefully to be able to formally compare the methods/ analytical techniques used in those previous studies). The results would be written into a manuscript that could then be submitted for publication, if desired.

Coding skills

R, Python, SQL, GIS

Teaching experience

1. Teaching Assistantship / University Teaching: During my graduate studies, I served as a teaching assistant for several undergraduate courses. I also co-developed and was a guest lecturer of the course for the next several years. These experiences allowed me to develop strong pedagogical skills, including creating engaging lesson plans, facilitating discussions, and providing constructive feedback to students. 2. Mentorship in Field-Based Courses: I mentored undergraduate students in field-based biology courses, where hands-on learning and research were central. This experience demonstrated my ability to guide students through research projects, from conceptualization to execution. 3. Active Learning: I have a strong belief in active learning and have incorporated it into my teaching philosophy. I've implemented interactive teaching methods, encouraged group activities, and promoted critical thinking in the classroom. 4. Inclusive Learning Environment: I prioritize creating an inclusive and respectful learning environment. My experience in setting ground rules, fostering open dialogue, and addressing student concerns ensures that all students feel valued and supported.

Credentials

Work experience

Washington University in St. Louis (2023 - Current)
Biological Researcher
The BALSA Group (2021 - 2023)
Biotech Consultant
University of Texas (2022 - 2022)
Visiting Researcher
DeKalb County Forest Preserve (2014 - 2016)
Field Technician

Education

Northern State University
BS Bachelor of Science
Biological Science
Washington University in St. Louis
PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Biology and Biomedical Science

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