Welcome Si-Chong Chen - New SE

Submitted by editor on 30 November 2020.

Location: Wakehurst, UK

Personal webpage, Google Scholar, ResearchGate

Twitter: @SichongChen

Keywords: macroecology, biogeography, plant ecology, seed ecology, species interaction


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

I work on the macroecological patterns in plant ecology, with a focus on seeds. My research aims to contribute to our understanding of ecology in three key ways: 1) by narrowing the gaps between data, intuitive ideas and theories; 2) by enhancing the integration of replicated studies at a macroecological scale; and 3) by extending understanding from a local scale and a small number of species to a global scale spanning many biomes and taxonomic groups.

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

I am an ecologist working at the Millennium Seed Bank of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (UK). I received my PhD in 2016 from the University of New South Wales (Australia) and a postdoctoral fellowship in 2016-2018 at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (Israel). Through these geographically diverse appointments and associated travels, I have done research work in regions spanning a wonderful range of ecosystems and research cultures, such as the temperate and tropical forests in East and Southeast Asia, the central desert and east coast woodlands in Australia, and the arid grasslands and deserts in the east Mediterranean. With these experience and knowledge, I have continuously built my interests and strengthened my career in macroecology and relevant disciplines.

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

Well triggered by stories of science and scientists, I determined to be a biologist since high school time. Although I was born and grown up in the biggest metropolitan in central China, I was fascinated by the nature and desired to dive into it. After my undergraduate study in Wuhan University where I was trained as a molecular biologist and virologist, I finally realised my passion for science was actually rooted in those times when walking in bushes, swimming in lakes and climbing mountains. Thus, I relocated to the remote area in southwestern China and studied the tropical rainforests at the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanic Garden. From there, I recalled my childhood passion in the Mother Nature and became an ecologist.

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

Besides science, I am also enthusiastic in art. I learnt several forms of art for ten years when I was young, and now I still paint or do handcraft in my spare time. Science and art are not polar opposites, but work together well for us to view the world and decipher the nature. Thus, I have also been keen to work with visual artists to deliver science to the public via art events. Also, I love travelling. My mother brought me to many interesting places since I was only a two-month-old infant. Sometimes we just wandered around, observing the nature or people. This develops to be a good habit and an important skill for an ecologist. My nomad life in academia these years gives me many opportunities to travel around countries and meet with people.