As I am in the thick of job hunting season, I’m writing a few applications. One of the most interesting parts of the whole process is the research statement. It’s interesting as it forces one to really be self-reflective, and ask “Who am I and why am I doing this?” The first paragraph in particular is a sort of declaration. Hopefully this will be the last one of these I write, but, who am I kidding. So, for posterity (and perhaps to keep track of how I grow as a scientist) here’s my 1st paragraph from job apps in the fall of ’08:
As an ecologist, I seek to understand the complex interaction of different ecological forces in communities. Ecology is replete with paradigms that seemingly conflict. Do extinctions allow invasion, or are invaders driving native species extinct? Does diversity drive ecosystem function, or does the functioning of an ecosystem drive diversity? Do top-down or bottom-up processes regulate food webs? My primary interest is tackling these questions head-on and showing that they are false dichotomies. Rather, conflicting processes are two sides of the same coin. I seek to explore how they interact, and provide a more holistic view of the natural world. Furthermore, my research seeks to provide a clearer view of how ecosystems function and respond in the face of multiple human impacts. When managers focus on any one human impact in isolation, they can reach incorrect conclusions. My hope is that my research can be used to understand the complex nature of biological responses to management and restoration actions.