Welcome new SE - Jiri Reif

Submitted by editor on 9 March 2018.

We are happy to welcome Dr. Jiri Reif, Charles University, Prag, Czech Republic, to our Editorial Board. Get to know him in my interview below and read more at https://www.natur.cuni.cz/fakulta/zivotni-prostredi/lide/zamestnanci/jiri-reif

What's you main research focus at the moment?

I focus on drivers of avian population dynamics, processes responsible for bird community assembly and impacts of plant invasions on animals. My study organisms are birds and I mostly use data collected by volunteers within long-term monitoring projects. However, I cannot survive without fieldwork which we perform in Central Europe and formerly also in Africa (Cameroon, South Africa). A part of my working capacity I reserve for cooperation with my wife Radka in her research on bird speciation and evolutionary genetics.

Can you describe your research career? 

I have studied masters in Ecology and Conservation science at Charles University, Prague, Czechia, from 1998 to 2003, and obtained Ph.D. in Zoology at the same university in 2008. In both master and doctoral theses, I studied bird community ecology and macroecology using own field-collected data and enjoyed excellent supervision of Prof. David Storch. After obtaining Ph.D., I went for a post-doc to Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, focusing on the analysis of drivers of bird population changes in various European countries. Although the stay took only a couple of months, it remains inspiring up to now, largerly due to friendly atmosphere in the team led by Prof. Katrin Böhning-Gaese. After coming back to Czechia, I worked for two years as a researcher for an NGO studying biodiversity in abandoned military training areas. Since 2010, I started my academic career as a head of a biodiversity research lab at the Institute for Environmental Studies, Charles University, Prague, and became an associate professor in 2014.

How come that you became a scientist in ecology?

I was fascinated by birds since my childhood - at the age of ca three years I "decided" to work as an ornithologist after becoming adult. Due to several lucky events, such a child wish realized after some 25 years. The first event took place in late 1980s when I met an excellent zoologist, Lubor Urbanek. He was displaced from the university to work with small children by the totalitarian regime which governed in Czechia in that time. He showed me how to study birds in a systematic way to improve my skills of species determination, knowledge of their ecology, work with literature and writing simple reports based on field observations. The second lucky event was meeting David Storch at the university. He opened my mind for ecology and I learned how to work in science following his example.

What do you do when you're not working?

I mostly spend free time with my family. We are doing some sports and hiking with our two small sons and we try to show them how the nature is beautiful. I am also trying to encourage them for bird watching, although it seems they are currently more interested in off-road vehicles...

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