Meet DEB: Steve Dudgeon

Name and Cluster:  Steve Dudgeon, Population and Community Ecology

Education: Earned a B.A. degree in Biology from the University of California, Berkeley and a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of Maine

Home Institution: California State University Northridge

Tell us about your research:

What I enjoy most about ecology is how much we learn from integrating information across different levels of biological organization, from molecules to ecosystems, and across disciplines. I am an ecologist working primarily at community, population and organismal scales of organization. My interests in ecological communities lie in studying how an environment, at different times, can support different community assemblages; an increasingly frequent and concerning theme in the 21st century. Our work shows that variability in the interactions between species and their environment through time, as well as the tempo of ecological dynamics, enables switches between community states and influence the resilience and persistence of different communities.

This same idea of a single system having multiple states permeates my other research interests as well. I am fascinated by clonal eukaryots that have complex life cycles having more than one free-living stage. I study red algae with multiple free-living stages, including both sexual and asexual individuals, to learn how species generate and maintain variant life cycles and the ecological benefits they afford. At the organismal level, I study colonial hydrozoans to understand how physiology regulates morphological plasticity in colonial invertebrates.

Why do you want to serve with NSF?

I have always enjoyed reviewing proposals and serving on panels when I have been given the opportunity. The intellectual stimulation of reviewing and discussing ideas at the forefront of research has provided a much-needed balance in my career development as scholar, teacher and mentor. It is important to me that I put my skills to their best use. Serving at NSF provides an opportunity to put my strengths as a scientist scholar to greater use at a larger scale than my individual research by contributing to the collective effort of advancing research in the nation.

What are you looking forward to in your tenure here at NSF?

I am looking forward to many things while at NSF, but 4 top the list: (1) I am excited to work with my colleagues in DEB as part of a team to advance knowledge in ecology and evolution. (2) I look forward to meeting many new people from the broad spectrum of ecological sub-disciplines studying different ecosystems and assisting with their efforts to advance knowledge in ecology, (3) how NSF operates to deliver its mission (from the outside, seemingly so smoothly!), and (4) how much I will learn about all of the fascinating research happening in ecology and evolution!

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