I’m a staff scientist at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory in Maine. I work at the intersection of research, education, and outreach to adapt DNA-assisted species identification (DNA barcoding and related techniques) for use in projects involving public participation in scientific research (citizen science). My aim is to use this combination of approaches to help scale up environmental research, conservation, restoration, and management.
With National Science Foundation support (DRL-1223210), I collaborate with Acadia National Park and the Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park to generate knowledge and resources for a planned region-wide citizen science initiative called “BioTrails”. Once implemented, BioTrails will engage some of the 2.5 million visitors to the Acadia region, primarily adults, in a range of citizen science projects. These projects will feature field research activities organized around hiking, biking and sea-kayaking trails. In addition to being popular recreational destinations, these trails will function as stable, long-term research transects for collecting observations, specimens and other data to address current ecological research questions. The BioTrails model will have the potential for expansion to other projects in Acadia National Park, other national parks and long-distance trails such as the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail.
I’m also co-founder and director of UK-based charity The HMS Beagle Trust. We are working together with our sister charity in Chile, La Fundación Beagle, to retrace the voyage of HMS Beagle – the little ship that carried a young Charles Darwin around the world and inspired his lifelong passion for science – with a new generation of scientists and students aboard.