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University of Queensland
Throughout my studies I emphasized terrestrial ecology and biogeochemical cycles, particularly in tropical forests. Our poor predictive capacity of limitations to restoration at degraded sites, versus the remarkable resilience observed in some recovering ecosystems, has guided my research priorities into underlying mechanisms and functional diversity in Peru, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Britain, and Australia.
I have enjoyed rewarding experiences as co-advisor of undergraduate research projects. Professional appointments I have held in environmental education and as assistant editor of an environmental magazine in Germany, as map librarian, agricultural research assistant, and ecology tutor at universities in Britain and Australia.
Existing ecological knowledge is not always incorporated into decision making, which is one cause of human-induced ecosystem degradation, but also of human suffering from adverse ecological phenomena. However, another cause relates to conflicting interests among stakeholders about preferred interactions with ecosystems. Thirdly, relevant knowledge to optimize human-ecosystem interactions is also often inexistent, due to ecosystem complexity and low priority given to ecological research.
While some people support ecological studies for their philosophical significance, it is ecologists’ challenging responsibility to all of society, to make relevant knowledge accessible where it can optimize human-ecosystem interactions. To this end, ecological research needs to integrate closely with social research to elaborate which stakeholders affect, and are affected by, which ecological phenomena. Ecologists should continuously re-examine such interactions to account for the dynamic nature of underlying processes and facilitate regular incorporation of this knowledge into societal decision making.
Besides scientific publications, I intend to also continue contributing to media accessed by relevant stakeholders, conferences, workshops, problem-based and stakeholder-based networks, e-forums, and educational resource centers. In particular, I propose to further develop my contributions to participatory research, involving potential beneficiaries during prioritizing, running and application of forest restoration and successional agroforestry research. For example, farmers, scientists, extension workers, conservationists and students share agro-ecological problem-solving in rural workshops in Peru. I will continue making such experiences accessible through aforementioned means, and facilitate communication between local and international scales, for instance, between Brazilian agroforestry networks and SER-International.
Finally, I plan to continue making my research results and their social context visible to policy makers. For instance, I am currently writing a Policy Implications Summary on forest restoration, requested by our Queensland state government.