Centennial Mentoring Program at #ESA100

Conferences provide unique opportunities for biologists to interact with others in their field; however, these opportunities are rarely structured to promote meaningful interactions between the next generation ecologists and more senior scientists. Access to strong mentors both within and outside of their main institution is critical to support early career ecologists and to help them gain the necessary skills to become good mentors themselves, while moving towards the next career stages.

This year the Early Career Ecologist Section has organized a semi-formal mentoring program that pairs early career ecologists (advanced graduate students and recent post-graduates) with established ecologists across career pathways during next week’s ESA Centennial Meeting. Mentors and early career ecologist pairs will attend each other’s talks and plan to meet one-on-one during the meeting to provide feedback on the mentee’s presentation, discuss broad research, teaching, mentoring and work-life strategies, and potentially continue communication or collaboration after the meeting is over. We hope that this opportunity  provides a valuable networking connection to provide feedback, share ideas, discuss ecology careers, and bridge generations of ecologists within ESA.

Look for a poster in the convention center of the ESA annual meeting featuring our mentees, and on our section’s website.  This mentoring program was made possible by a Centennial award to the Early Career Ecologist Section from ESA and with thanks to the team that helped organize the program (Sarah Supp, Dan Scholes, and Daniel Stanton from the Early Career Section; Winslow Hansen from the Student Section; and Scott Collins from ESA Leadership).

More than 30 ESA members volunteered to be potential mentors for the program (Thanks!) and we paired 10 of them with the 10 early career ecologists chosen from the applicants to the program. We’d like to take a moment to introduce this year’s mentor and mentee participants to you! Congratulations!


Katie Stuble

Katie is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Dept. of Plant Sciences at University of California, Davis. Her research focuses on two of the main drivers of global change: climate warming and species invasions. She primarily studies shifts in foraging behavior and competitive interactions as potential agents of change, using natural and manipulative experiments with ants and plants. Her Early Career Mentor is Jessica Hellman.

Jessica Hellmann

Jessica is a population ecologist and conservation biologist who studies how to manage natural and human systems under climate change. Her recent work includes revealing the importance of local adaptation in species’ responses to climate change and building a global index of climate change adaptation. In August, 2013, she began as Director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of Minnesota as the Russell M. and Elizabeth M. Bennett Chair in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior.





Daijiang Li

Daijiang is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is broadly interested in community ecology, global change ecology, biodiversity, and is increasingly interested in using quantitative approaches to understand long-term and large-scale ecological patterns. His research focuses on long-term effects of fire suppression and climate change for taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic diversity of pine barrens in Wisconsin. His Early Career Mentor is Ethan White.

Ethan White

Ethan is an Associate Professor and Moore Foundation Investigator at the University of Florida. He studies ecological systems using data-intensive approaches and is actively involved in open science and computational training.






Seema Sheth

Seema is a Postdoctoral Associate studying evolutionary ecology at Sheth-Seemathe University of Minnesota, and will be starting as an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow January 2016 at UC Berkeley. Seema combines quantitative genetics, field and greenhouse experiments, and phylogenetic methods to examine the processes that promote or hinder adaptation across biological scales. Her Early Career Mentor is Brian Enquist.

Brian Enquist

Brian is a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona. He is a broadly trained plant biologist and ecologist, and his lab group takes integrative, quantitative approaches to link biological measures across spatial and temporal scales in ecology and evolution. His research involves field work, big datasets, scaling, developing theory and informatics infrastructure, empirically measuring numerous attributes of organismal form and function, using physiological and trait-based techniques, and assessing macroecological and large-scale patterns.





Jenica Allen

Jenica is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and will begin as an Assistant Professor at the University of New Hampshire in January 2016. Her research in global change ecology uses large datasets, field studies, and statistical modelling to forecast plant phenology and invasive species distribution responses to climate and land use change. Jenica has a strong interest in teaching quantitative and field methods. Her Early Career Mentor is Deborah Goldberg.

Deborah Goldberg

Deborah is the Elzada U. Clover Collegiate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan. She studies community ecology of plants, with a focus on the roles of species interactions and on clonality in determining community dynamics. She is closely involved in several programs to increase participation in science of underrepresented groups in science at both student and faculty levels.



Colin Donihue

Colin is a Ph.D. candidate in the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies working with Oswald Schmitz and an exchange scholar at Harvard University with Jonathan Losos. He is generally interested in understanding the effects of human land use on ecology and evolution. His dissertation research focuses on the functional ecology of the Aegean Wall Lizard (Podarcis erhardii).

Morgan Ernest

Morgan is an associate professor at the University of Florida. She is fascinated by understanding how and why populations, communities, and ecosystems change through time. Her role as a mentor is to encourage young scientists to tackle challenging scientific questions and help them achieve their career goals, where ever those goals may lead them.





Caroline Devan

Caroline is a Ph.D. Student at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and Rutgers University-Newark. In fall 2015, she will be an Instructor of Biology at NJIT. Her research focuses on how bee communities are shaped by ecological and anthropogenic forces including tropic cascades, invasion, climate change, and urbanization. Caroline is strongly interested in education, mentoring, citizen science and public outreach. Her Early Career Mentor is Julie Reynolds.

Julie Reynolds

Julie is an Associate Professor of the Practice in the Biology Department at Duke University, and also serves as the Director of Undergraduate Studies. In addition to teaching, Julie has an active research program focused on pedagogies that promote science literacy, particularly Writing-to-Learn strategies. Julie is the Vice President for Education and Human Resources of the Ecological Society of America.





Clare Fieseler

Clare is a Ph.D. candidate in Ecology at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and in fall 2015 she will be based in Panama for a Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Fellowship. Clare has a Master’s in Coastal and Environmental Management from Duke University and served as an Ocean Fellow for Duke’s Nicholas Institute of Environmental Policy Solutions. She blogs, speaks, and provides public media and education as a National Geographic Explorer. Her Early Career Mentor is Maria Dornelas.

Maria Dornelas

Maria is a Lecturer at the School of Biology in St. Andrews University, Scotland. Her research focuses on quantifying biodiversity and understanding the processes that shape it, often in coral reefs and tropical freshwater fish. She combines ecological theory, synthesis of existing data, and fieldwork in her research and tends to work on intermediate spatio-temporal scales (communities and networks of communities over time-scales of years to tens of years).





Sara Kuebbing

Sara is a Gaylord Donnelly Environmental Postdoctoral Fellow at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies working with Mark Bradford on understanding the impacts of multiple plant invaders and nutrient cycling in forested ecosystems . Sara received her PhD the University of Tennessee and her B.S. from the University of Delaware. Her Early Career Mentor is Amy Zanne.

Amy Zanne

Amy is an Associate Professor at George Washington University in Washington, DC. She is interested in the ecology and evolution behind how plants are constructed and how that construction affects how they decay and release carbon back to the atmosphere. This work has led her to study the interactions between plant construction and various decay agents, namely termites and fungi.








Ginger Allington

Ginger is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Michigan. Her professional background includes academic research and applied, hands-on management of natural resources across multiple spatial scales. Ginger uses data and techniques from ecology, biogeochemistry, remote sensing, and GIS to identify mechanisms of ecological patterns and change with a goal to inform policy. Her Early Career Mentor is is Debra Peters.

Debra Peters

Debra is currently the Senior Advisor for Earth Observations in the Office of the Chief Scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC. She is also a research scientist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service at the Jornada Experimental Range in Las Cruces, NM. She has been the lead principal investigator of the Jornada Basin Long Term Ecological Research Program (LTER) since 2003. She has extensive experience working in grasslands and shrublands of western North America with a focus on cross-scale interactions, alternative states, catastrophic events, and ecosystems modeling.





Fiona Soper

Fiona is a Ph.D. Candidate at Cornell University. She is broadly interested in nitrogen cycling in plants and soils, especially nitrogen fixation and novel stable isotope applications. Her research focuses on how woody encroachment of leguminous trees into savannas affects nitrogen fixation, accrual, and trace gas flux from soils. She is also interested in science leadership, management, and mentorship, and hopes to pursue a research career with strong emphases in these areas.

Jill Baron

Jill is an ecosystem ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, and a Senior Research Ecologist with the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University. She is founder and Co-Director of the John Wesley Powell Center for Earth System Science Analysis and Synthesis, a synthesis center supported by USGS and NSF. Baron was Lead Author of the US Climate Change Science Program report on Climate Change Adaptation Options for National Parks, has given testimony to Congress on western acid rain and climate change issues, was Editor-in-Chief of Issues in Ecology, and served as ESA President in 2013. Her interests include applying ecosystem concepts to management of human-dominated regions, and understanding the biogeochemical and ecological effects of climate change and atmospheric nitrogen deposition to mountain ecosystems.




We think mentoring is really important for early career ecologists, and we’d like to thank everyone listed above for taking the time to participate! We hope mentoring continues to be discussed broadly among members of ESA during the Annual Meeting and throughout the year.