Name: Kelly R. Zamudio
Education: B.A. University of California, Berkeley; Ph.D. University of Washington, Seattle
Home Institution: Cornell University
Research Experience/History: I work on diversification and conservation of vertebrate lineages, and have particular interests in historical processes promoting the origin of biodiversity. I am also interested in the emergence of infectious diseases in wildlife. More on my research program can be found at my Cornell website.
NSF Experience/History: I am a rotating Program Director in DEB, in the Systematics and Biodiversity Studies Cluster. Before starting my position here I served on panels for Dimensions of Biodiversity, Evolutionary Processes, AToL, and provided ad hoc reviews for multiple clusters in DEB. I also participated in post-doctoral panels a couple times.
Competitions I currently work on: Systematic And Biodiversity Science core competitions (both full proposals and DDIGs), Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease, and Dimensions of Biodiversity.
Q & A
Biggest surprise you’ve encountered coming to DEB from the academic world:
More than anything else I have been surprised by the complexity of the Foundation, and how all the offices have to fit and work together to fund excellent, interdisciplinary, and cross-cutting science. In addition to the science and education directorates, there are offices that work on legislative and public affairs issues, offices that oversee grant management, offices that interface with congress to get our budget in and approved. This takes a huge number of people with a vast array of expertise. Every one of them works to get research dollars from Congress and in to your research accounts.
One thing you wished more people understood about DEB and why:
I wish more people realized that DEB is composed of a group of service-oriented science advocates. The feeling I get here in the Division is that we all feel a great responsibility for doing a good job at funding basic science, for identifying the fields and ideas that should be encouraged to develop, and for keeping our community of bio researchers active. The National budget, and the current funding regime make that job painfully difficult sometimes, because we all know that we could do so much more for science with more money. A previous program officer summed it up perfectly when she said: “DEB: a smart group of people, all the right intentions, and not enough money”. My experience here has made me realize the importance of communicating your science to those holding the funding purse strings (very few of us do that enough). It has also reinforced my perception that if you complain about DEB and NSF, you should probably do some service here, and contribute yourself to the improvement of our system.
What would someone find you doing in your down time?
I am making a point of using my time here to take in all that DC has to offer. I try to visit one museum, monument, or special DC place each weekend. I have not done it yet – but before my time here is up, you can bet I will take a Segway tour of the National Mall!
Where should someone go to eat when they visit NSF?
Food trucks! They line up outside of NSF on N. Stuart St. Everyday there are at least 4-5 varied and delicious options. I recommend La Tingeria for Mexican, Brandon’s Little Truck for gourmet sandwiches, Pho Wheels for Vietnamese Pho, and ArepaZone for Venezuelan Arepas.
Think of it as “surprise@lunchtime”—you never know who will be out there… what will it be today?