New CW Team Member: Matt Wilkins, PhD

Hello there condor fans!

I’m Matt Wilkins, the newest addition to the Condor Watch team. I’m an evolutionary biologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, matt-wilkins-croppedworking as a postdoc with Dr. Dai Shizuka. My PhD work at the University of Colorado focused on complex mate choice in barn swallows. That is, I study how different song and plumage features provide information to different receivers (i.e. potential mates or competitors). I’m also interested in how divergence in female mate preferences can lead to the formation of new species. For my postdoc research, I’ve been extending this work to a new study system–species of Schizocosa wolf spiders. Spideys are cool, too–and require waaay less paperwork! You can read more about me and my research here.

As a scientist, it’s very important to me to make an effort to encourage curiosity and critical thinking among the general public. I’m very excited about the work being done by the Condor Watch team, including all the amazingly dedicated citizen scientists making the project possible, and I want to be part of it! I think this work is good for science (improving our knowledge about the social dynamics and survival risks of endangered condors); it’s good for the public (by directly involving them in this process of discovery); and it’s good for society as a whole (by raising awareness about the beauty and fragility of the natural world). Going forward, my goal is to help increase the project’s productivity through increased social media engagement. Since October, I’ve been running the Condor Watch Twitter feed (@condorwatch) and occasionally posting to the Facebook group. If you haven’t liked or followed yet, please do. We can also use your help to retweet and share our posts with your networks. A project like CW requires a tremendous, sustained effort by a lot of people, and you can all support the project by being advocates in your individual communities.

In addition to staying active on Twitter, my first undertaking as a new team member was to create a short, emotive video summarizing the history of California Condor conservation and the purpose of the Condor Watch citizen science project. I hope this video can be circulated widely to help inspire others to start tagging. Please share it with anyone you think will be interested!

My second task was to start producing a biweekly leaderboard recognizing our most productive photo taggers (check out mapat–whaaat?!). I will post these regularly on the Facebook & Twitter feeds, as well as this chat board in Condor Watch Talk. If you want to be recognized, don’t forget to sign in when tagging 🙂

leaderboard_jan-15-to-jan-28-2017

Well, that’s all for now. If there’s anything (like a cool photo or album) you want me to push out to Twitter or Facebook, let me know. Keep up all the great work!

Cheers,

Matt

ps-you can follow me on Twitter @mattwilkinsbio

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About hirundocosa

I am a postdoctoral research fellow in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I study the evolution of animal communication systems. I want to know what traits are important to males when sizing up rivals and females when choosing mates, how these traits vary across populations, and how divergence in mating and competitive traits relates to the formation of new species. I currently try to address these questions using barn swallows and wolf spiders as study systems. I'm also a huge fan of great TV and cinema, a runner, photographer, climber, and foodie. Among other science outreach projects, I run the Lincoln Nebraska Chapter of Nerd Nite--an international collective that organizes monthly fun events featuring talks on diverse topics around the world.

One response to “New CW Team Member: Matt Wilkins, PhD”

  1. Brian Smith says :

    Greetings, and thank you for your good work! I was recently in the Sierra San Pedro Martir in Baja California, and had a close encounter with a condor. Do you know of any way to report the sighting to them, or get more-detailed info on the Baja project?

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