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ABOUT ME & SCIENTIFIC INTERESTS:
I have always been interested in the links between ecology, conservation, and policy. As an undergraduate student, I studied biology and political science in Hope College in Holland, Michigan. I continued pursing these interests as a graduate student at Indiana University, Bloomington, where I earned a M.S. in environmental science. After finishing my graduate studies, I served as a natural resources volunteer in the Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras. My graduate studies and subsequent Peace Corps experience stimulated my interest in freshwater ecology and conservation in Latin America. After Peace Corps, I entered a Ph.D. program in ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University.
I am broadly interested in the community and ecosystem ecology of freshwater systems. Specifically, I study the effect of aquatic organisms on the structure and functioning of stream and river environments. My dissertation research focuses on an invasive group of armored catfish (Siluriformes: Loricariidae) and their impacts in the Usumacinta watershed in Chiapas, Mexico. These fishes, commonly called plecos or algae-eaters, are popular in the aquarium trade and have been introduced and become established in freshwater ecosystems throughout the globe.
I am very passionate about educating the public about aquarium-release fishes, especially plecos, so I launched, PlecoInvasion.org (www.plecoinvasion.org) to educate the public about this problem and create a venue for people to document new invasion sites and obtain contact information for people studying these fishes.
kac98 (at) cornell.edu