LIVE: PhD defense on climate change, mega-fauna and plants

July 5, 2012 • 4:30 am

by Matthew Cobb

While Jerry is in Canada, Greg Mayer and I are home alone at WEIT, so we get to look in Jerry’s cupboards and stuff, as well as posting. PhD student Jacquelyn Gill from the Univeristy of Wisconsin-Madison is an ace science communicator – she has a blog (NOT a website)  The Contemplative Mammoth, somewhere over there in the WordPress jungle, and she is on Twitter (@JacquelynGill),which is where I bumped into her.

*Today* 5 July, Jacquelyn takes her commitment to science communication to the highest and boldest level, by streaming her thesis defence over the interwebs! In the US (as in many countries apart from the UK), PhD thesis exams are preceded by a public lecture, explaining the science. Jacquelyn’s talk will be on-line, *live* at 1pm CDT (which I think is 6pm UK time – the rest of you will have to work it out). [JAC: it’s actually 7 pm UK time, I think]. Go here to see the presentation.

It’s on a fascinating topic that all WEIT readers will be interested in: “The Biogeography of Biotic Upheaval: Novel ecosystems and the end-Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions”.

In other words, what happened as all those giant mammals and birds disappeared at about the time humans popped up in their environments?  This is a big question, with implication not only for our understanding of the past, but also for trying to see into the future, and to understand what will happen in the coming decades through climate change and direct human activity. Jacquelyn’s research looks particularly at the role of plants in disturbed ecosystems, as indicated on this neat poster for her talk, made by Jeremy Parker.

Good luck to you Jacquelyn! WEIT readers all over the world will be watching! Other students might want to take note of this great intitiative.

Finally if you want to know the next installment, Jacquelyn will be moving to Providence, RI in August to begin a position as a Voss Postdoctoral Fellow at the Environmental Change Initiative at Brown University.

15 thoughts on “LIVE: PhD defense on climate change, mega-fauna and plants

  1. That’s a courageous thing to do.

    I’m not quite sure if I mean that in the Sir Humphrey Appleby sense or not.

    1. “The National Trust said that the exhibit gives recognition to the fact that, for [members of the flat earth society], the debate about the [shape] of the Earth is still ongoing.”

      1. The debate about whether Atlas holds up the firmament is still ongoing…

        Makes the Higgs Boson seem light years away.

  2. How long now? 51 minutes.

    Damn clocks, yesterday I had worked on a project for about 10 minutes and the clock moved ahead almost 2 hours. Today I’m wanting to watch this thesis and have waited almost 2 hours, the clock has only moved 17 minutes. Can’t do anything now for fear of the clock moving so that I miss the whole thesis. Life was probably a lot less frustrating before; “Oh and, by the way, time will now be relative”. Thanks a lot Einstein!

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