Welcome Gregor Kalinkat - new SE

Submitted by editor on 7 June 2019.

We are very happy to welcome Gregor Kalinkat to our editorial board! Read more about him in this interview!

What's you main research focus at the moment?

I just started a new position as a senior researcher in Franz Hölker's lab at the Leibniz-Institute for Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) Berlin. In this long-running (6 years!) interdisciplinary project funded by the German Federal Agency for Environment Protection (BfN) we are going to investigate ways to reduce negative effects of street lighting on insect communities. At this point I'm new to light pollution research but as it adds one more anthropogenic factor affecting food webs and ecosystems it integrates well with research I've been doing over the past years on climate warming and biological invasions. Notably, my new colleagues have published a very cool paper on how light pollution affects invertebrate food webs last year in Oikos https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/oik.04696.  

Can you describe your research career? 

I started as a PhD student in the lab of Prof. Ulrich Brose in 2008, back then at the Technical University Darmstadt, Germany. We combined extensive laboratory experiments looking at feeding rates (i.e. functional responses) of cursorial invertebrate predators. We combined insights from these experiments with food web modelling to investigate the effects of body size on the structure and stability of terrestrial communities. One key paper of my PhD thesis was published in Oikos in 2011https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1600-0706.2010.18860.x. After I finished my PhD in 2012 I applied at my current institution in 2013 to bring my expertise in functional response experiments and methods to a project examining within-species variation in behavioral traits in fishes led by Dr. Max Wolf. After I spent a first short term postdoc at IGB and simultaneously tried to secure longer term funding for this research I then spent one year as a postdoc in the lab of Dr. Carlos Melián at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (eawag) where I started an investigation into temporal resolution and variability in a Baltic Sea food web based on a historical data set. In fall 2015 I returned to IGB with my own research project funded through the German Research Foundation (DFG) where since then I have been active in two broad research topics: (1) within-species variation in behavioral traits and its effects on predator-prey interactions and food webs as well as (2) the dire state of global freshwater biodiversity and what climate warming and biological invasions mean for it. 

How come that you became a scientist in ecology?

When I started my undergraduate studies in biology my actual goal was to become a science journalist. But somehow I was so fascinated by lectures and practical courses on organismal biology and food web ecology that I decided to enroll as a PhD student in Uli Brose's group. I also guess some of the blame for me taking this route goes to the spectacular field trips organised back then by Prof. Stefan Scheu and Dr. Mark Maraun (the picture showing me with the sea star at night is from one of those field trips to the Mediterranean island of Giglio many years ago). 

What do you do when you're not working?

Whenever possible I try to spend time with my family, I have two boys aged six and nine. I also love cycling, it's such a great way to get around, do your little workout and at the same time feel connected to nature. 

Photo credit: The starfish photo is by Dorothee Sandmann and the soil sampling photo by Roswitha Ehnes.