This March, I was invited to give one a talk at U Michigan's Early Career Scientists Symposium. This amazing annual event showcases the work of students at U Michigan and early career researchers in the chosen topic. This year's theme was Stable Isotopes in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation. I spoke about how we can use molecular markers for fire and carbon isotopes in leaf waxes to reconstruct changes in paleo-fire ecology of ancient grasslands.
I was excited and honored to be listed alongside an amazing group of isotopists, who are doing cutting edge and innovative work on a variety of problems in ecology and evolution. The talk topics varied widely, from quantifying nitrogen fixation in modern ecosystems, to constraining butterfly and mammalian grazer evolution in the Neogene, to tracking salmon migration routes in Alaska. All of the talks were excellent and engaging. The ECSS Committee did a fantastic job organizing an engaging weekend that of without a hitch. It was wonderful to catch up with mentors, colleagues and friends in the stable isotope community that I hadn't seen recently, while learning about some fantastic science! The weekend was filled with great conversations with the other speakers, and the amazing group of scientists at U Michigan. At the end of the weekend we all marveled at the shear diversity of ways isotope systems can provide insight to questions in a wide variety of field, and how these common methods unite scientists from different backgrounds in a ways that lead to new ideas and collaborations.
I'm privileged to be part of such an innovative and inclusive community, with both supportive senior scientists, and pioneering young scientists. The weekend was a good reminder that there are isotopic solutions to many natural science problems, with the only constraints being the boundaries of our imaginations (and our analytical innovations)!
Here's the link to the ECSS website if you want to learn more about the research that was presented at the Symposium!