Being a geoscientist is not just a career, it’s a way of life. We ask many of the big questions that young children ask, but then put those questions through rigorous testing to understand the world around us. Many of our questions are complex and require a combined knowledge of physics, chemistry, biology, computational methods, and more. But that’s what keeps us going. We each specialize in a particular field of geoscience and collaborate with other scientists around the world to get meaningful answers. Then we apply that knowledge in ways that are useful to support day-to-day and long-term decision-making for all of us.
To ensure scientific integrity, both the tests we use and our interpretation of the results are critically assessed by experts in the field. Only after this process, are the tests, results, and interpretations recognized and recorded in the scientific literature. Due to the complexity of geoscience, this information is often presented to the public as levels of risk or the likelihood of a potential event or effect. It’s not possible to determine that an earthquake will happen on a specific date or that climate will change by an exact number of degrees (at least not yet!). Individuals, organizations, businesses, and policy-makers can then use this information to make informed decisions about risk, which resources we use, where and how we build infrastructure, how to avoid costly disasters, as well as how we affect Earth’s biosphere and ourselves.
As an evolutionary paleoecologist in the geosciences, the research I do investigates the role diversity plays in evolution. I ask questions like: “How do we measure diversity?” “How do we observe and test diversity in the fossil record?” “When is diversity resistant to change and when is diversity vulnerable to change?” When we consider that two-three million years is the average mammal species lifespan and that we (Homo sapiens sapiens) have only existed two-three hundred thousand years, we begin to understand the importance of these questions. We still have at least one million seven hundred thousand years to go just to be average!
My interest in science communication is to make scientific research more accessible to those of us who don’t have the time or inclination to read the literature and to help those without a science background decide for themselves when someone is not telling the whole story or twisting the facts to suit their cause. This is why it is also important to foster young minds in the sciences so that there is always someone to help future generations test the data and share results so that the public can make informed decisions.
Please enjoy quick science insights and adventures in science posted on this page. Access to my research and efforts in science communication are also available through this site. Have a question? Send it to me by email (email@example.com), and I’ll try to answer it or find an expert who can!