Welcome Scott Burgess - New SESubmitted by editor on 21 April 2021.
Scott Burgess is now a Subject Editor at OIKOS! We are very happy to have him join our team, welcome! He is an Associate Professor at Florida State University (USA). He has kindly answered some interview questions so we can get to know him better. Check it out!
Keywords: dispersal, evolutionary ecology, life history, phenotypic plasticity, transgenerational plasticity, local adaptation, adaptation in variable environments, marine invertebrates, experiments, quantitive and population genetics
1. What's your main research focus at the moment?
Broadly, our research is on adaptation to variable environments and centers on the role of phenotypic and genetic diversity in dispersal and reproductive strategies. We have two main themes at the moment. The first theme is on the coevolution of sperm and larval dispersal and life history strategies that underlie fitness variation and population growth. We’re studying how the relatedness and density of mates and competitors influence traits and fitness variation that underlies adaptive capacity of populations. Part of this relates to sexual selection in hermaphrodites. The second theme is on the degree to which cryptic species of coral exhibit synchronous or asynchronous patterns of dispersal and response to environmental gradients and disturbances. We’re interested in the causes and consequences of the degree of synchronicity on ecological dynamics and rapid adaptation. We tend to study things through the lens of quantitative genetics, and use molecular genetics as tools to infer quantities of interest, such as coancestry and parentage. We tend to focus on experimental approaches in the field and lab. We sometimes also dabble in theory.
2. Can you describe your research career? Where, what, when?
I started with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Sydney (Australia) in 2000, then worked for a year in a private eco-toxicology lab before moving to Townsville to do an Honors year in Marine Biology at James Cook University. After that, I worked at the Australian Institute of Marine Science for about 4 years as a coral biologist. In 2007 I moved to Brisbane and got my PhD in Ecology from the University of Queensland in 2011. I then moved to the US and spent three years as a postdoc at the University of California, Davis as the Center for Population Biology Postdoctoral Fellow. In 2014, I moved to Florida State University where I am now an Associate Professor.
3. How come that you became a scientist in ecology?
I think it was in my last year as an undergraduate where I took a field course in experimental ecology. I got hooked on designing experiments then collecting and analyzing the data to see if my hypothesis was wrong. I grew up on the water (surfing, sailing, diving etc) so have always loved the ocean, so studying marine ecology and evolution seemed natural.
4. What do you do when you're not working?
When not working, I do a lot of trail running in the forest, hiking, and kayaking in the local rivers and wetlands. If I lived near a beach, I’d be there all the time.