2018 Nominees


Stefano ALlesina





Stefano Allesina

We develop new mathematical, statistical and computational methods for theoretical ecology. Research topics include:

  • Ecological networks: species in ecological communities form tangled networks of ecological interactions. These networks differ from other social and technological networks in that the nodes are all different (i.e., they represent different species), rather than being of the same “type”.
  • Spectral methods: we want to characterize ecological networks using the eigenvalues and eigenvectors associated with their adjacency and Laplacian matrices. In this way, we can study very large food webs and other ecological networks.
  • Models for food web structure: given a series of balls and arrows, can we construct a network that resembles empirical ones? What are the “rules” we should follow? How can we evaluate the “goodness” of these models?

Website: http://allesinalab.uchicago.edu/


Rachel Silverstein

Rachel is part investigator, scientist, educator, and legal advocate, functioning as a public spokesperson for the Miami, FL Bay, protecting people’s right to clean water and empowering people to defend their waterways too. Rachel Silverstein joined Miami Waterkeeper as Executive Director & Waterkeeper in June of 2014. Prior to joining MWK, Rachel was a Knauss Sea Grant Fellow and Professional Staff for the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard in Washington, DC. She got SCUBA certified at 14 and has been an avid diver ever since. Rachel was one of the finalists last year, but was unable to come to OSU because her due date overlapped with the dates the committee had selected.

Website: http://www.miamiwaterkeeper.org/4768



Kevin McCann

Kevin is a professor in Integrative Biology department at the University of Guelph. He combines mathematical models, experiments, and field experiments to understand the structure, dynamics, and diversity of ecological systems, mostly focusing on food webs. In fact, he literally wrote the book on food webs: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9642.html (highly recommend by Kyle). His use of various approaches to answer fundamental biological questions makes him a great candidate for invited speaker

Website: http://www.mccannlab.org/


Emily Graslie

Emily is AMAZING! Her YouTube channel, “The Brain Scoop,” is something we all should watch and learn how to communicate our science better. Past examples of her seminars include, communicating science using museums and YouTube and the importance of science role models in the media. So not only will we get a really engaging and DIFFERENT seminar (come on, we can hear about molecular and theoretical ecology any old week!), we as grad students will get to hear about museum careers from an exciting young woman scientist! Graslie is now employed by the Field Museum as their first-ever Chief Curiosity Correspondent.

Website: http://www.fieldmuseum.org/science/blog/brain-scoop


Dan Bolnick

Our lab seeks to understand how ecological interactions affect the evolution of within-species trait variation. Research in the lab touches on a wide variety of species interactions, and combines theoretical models, natural history, field and lab experiments, and meta-analyses. Currently evolution of vertebrate immunity to parasites is a major, but not exclusive, focus of the lab.

Website:   https://bolnicklab.wordpress.com/



Gretchen Hofmann 

Work in the Hofmann Lab group focuses on the ecological physiology of marine organisms, in particular kelp, invertebrates and perciform fishes. Although the research projects in the lab are quite diverse, we are collectively interested in understanding the role of temperature and oceanographic features in setting species’ distribution patterns in the marine environment.

Website:   https://www.eemb.ucsb.edu/people/faculty/hofmann



Ayana Johnson

Ayana Johnson is a marine biologist, but would appeal broadly. She is AWESOME and is an amazing speaker. Biology, policy, conservation, social justice – she does it all. She co-directed the March for Science, she works a lot with conservation and social justice in the Caribbean…we need to meet her.

Website:   http://ayanaelizabeth.com/bio/



Julie Rushmore

Julie studies chimpanzee social networks and is an outstanding speaker (google her TED talk!). She was a postdoc in Anna’s lab several years ago and is now at UC Davis.

Website:   http://julierushmore.wixsite.com/diseaseecology



Damien Caillaud

Damien studies social behavior, ecology, and conservation of gorillas. He is an assistant professor at UC Davis and is an incredibly cool person as well. He doesn’t have a personal website, but here’s a link to his organizational profile at the Dianne Fossey Fund.

Website:   https://gorillafund.org/who-we-are/leadership/damien-caillaud/


Rosie Alegado


ROSIE ALEGADO leverages her training in classical microbial genetics with experience in evolutionary biology to model microbial community dynamics. The Alegado Lab carries out lab-based experimental modeling and field-based sampling of microbial populations in coastal environments to the impact of land use in fragile Hawaiian estuarine and marine wetland ecosystems. #NativeinSTEM

Website:   http://alegadolab.org/