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, working 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 🙂
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!
ps-you can follow me on Twitter @mattwilkinsbio