Steve Hovick

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Steve Hovick
University of Georgia

My background is strongly applied in nature. It includes positions with The Nature Conservancy and state Departments of Natural Resources and experience ranging from planting and restoring prairies to establishing a native plants nursery for restoration in the Milwaukee County Parks. My Master’s research was also extremely applied, exploring a novel method for northern restoring swamp forests. In my current doctoral program at the University of Georgia I am focusing primarily on basic ecological principles, but I strive to integrate basic and applied ecological research.

My dissertation research is predicated on expectations from trophic supply and plant defense theories. From an applied perspective, I hope to provide insights that will improve our ability to predict under which conditions invasive exotic plant species are most likely to reap benefits from natural enemy release. As a corollary, it should be possible to better predict when biological control measures are most likely to be effective. Both of these issues are challenges with broad implications in today’s world. Exotic species invasions and anthropogenic nutrient enrichment have become ubiquitous features of many systems, and understanding how these two factors interact is vitally important.

This is only one example of putting basic knowledge of ecological processes to work. As ecologists, we all have tools to carry out and critically evaluate our own and others’ research. However, if ecological research is meant to be more than just a purely academic pursuit, then we must also be able to share our insights with non-ecologists. I anticipate my role in this task will be as an instructor, teaching undergraduates and graduates not only the basics of ecological theory but also how to apply that knowledge to current environmental and ecological challenges. Informal opportunities to teach will also augment formal instruction, whether those come in the field or more unexpectedly, as when visiting family and friends.

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