Research Q & A
What’s your hometown?
I grew up in the small town of Centreville in Southwest Michigan.
How did you get started/what drew you to your area of study?
I now study urban coyotes and foxes. I grew up in a very rural area, and one of the things that shocked me when I started spending more time in urban areas was that many species that I thought of as rural species, like coyotes and red foxes, thrive in urban areas. I was curious about how they’re able to survive in such complex and disturbed environments, and how people mediate the interactions between these species and their ecological communities.
Where are you working on research/field work?
I do all of my field research in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to follow in your footsteps?
For someone who is interested primarily in questions surrounding ecology, I think rather than focusing on the skills needed to thrive in this field, the most important thing is to be observant and curious. If you follow that curiosity you’ll pick up the skills you need to be a successful ecologist on the way. Being outdoors, knowing what species you’re seeing and trying to understand the relationship between species ultimately is what underlies asking interesting scientific questions about the natural world.
What would be the 5 song soundtrack to your research work/What 5 songs do you listen to most while you work?
- Baba O’Riley by The Who (because they’re “Out here in the field”)
- Coffee by Sylvan Esso (because I would die without coffee)
- All the Time by Bahamas (because research takes up all my time)
- This Must be the Place by Talking Heads (for when I finally reach a habitat sampling site after a long hike)
- Run by Awolnation (for when I accidentally set up a sampling transect on top of a yellow jacket colony)
Geoff transporting a tranquilized gray fox to be fitted with a GPS tracking collar.