Submitted by editor on 13 January 2020.

We are excited to welcome our new subject editor, Jennifer Firn, a theoretical and applied plant ecologist, and Associate Professor at Queensland University of Technology, with expertise from grasslands to tropical rainforests! The picture above shows her working in the Central Deserts of Australia. Keep reading to learn a little more about who she is!

Personal webpage: https://jenniferfirn.wordpress.com/
Twitter: @Jennfirn

1. What's your main research focus at the moment?

I am a theoretical and applied plant ecologist who specializes in studying ecological theory and then linking these theoretical constructs to the practical management of grasslands and tropical forests. Over my career, I have come to realise that practical management also very importantly can feed into the theoretical constructs of ecology—there is so much ecological theory and applied research can learn from each other. Over the last few years, I have been working on helping local people control populations of high impact invasive non-native grass species like African lovegrass in the Bega Valley and Buffel grass in the Central Deserts.

Picture of a large new experiment I have just set-up in the Bega Valley of Australia where we are excluding herbivores all the way down to invertebrates in invaded and native grasslands across 12 sites. 

2. Can you describe your research career? Where, what, when?

I grew up in Canada and studied to be a forester. I worked for a bit in Malaysia and then decided to complete my PhD in Australia, then worked as a postdoc with CSIRO and fell hopelessly in love with Australian ecosystems—they are incredibly unique—and in my opinion, the greatest place on Earth to work as an ecologist.

3. How come that you became a scientist in ecology?

I wanted to devote my career to contributing as best I can to conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services. The driving motivation in my research is to work with local people to find smarter, cheaper and more sustainable ways of restoring degraded plant communities, whether that be grasslands or forests.

4. What do you do when you're not working?

When I am not working, I spend time with my family bushwalking, bird watching and botanising at our beach shack on the largest sand island in the world Fraser Island—it is made-up of all the ecosystems I love including rainforests.

Photo of the research we are conducting on finding culturally sensitive control strategies for controlling buffel grass working with the Tjuwanpa Women Rangers - the first all women's aboriginal ranger group in the Northern Territory of Australia.