New Team Member Spotlight: Adam Siders
Adam is an aquatic ecologist broadly interested in resource subsidies, the role of animals in ecosystem function, and food webs. When he's not doing science, Adam enjoys hanging with his dog, fishing, hiking, paddling, and birding.
What research are you currently working on?
I am studying the functional role of breakwaters as a tool to prevent salt marsh degradation and how breakwaters and environmental stressors may interact to influence salt marsh structure and function. I am also collecting data for a project studying how salt marshes may be used as a nature-based solution to prevent compound flooding around Mobile Bay.
What are you looking forward to most about conducting your research?
I am looking forward to working in salt marsh ecosystems. They are very interesting ecosystems at the water-land interface so I’m looking forward to expanding on my understanding of how they function. I am also interested in the possibility of studying ecosystem function along the freshwater to marine continuum.
What research have you worked on previously?
My dissertation research focused on the effects of manatees on spring-fed ecosystems when they make annual migrations from marine to freshwater ecosystems in winter for thermal refugia. During this research, I was locally known as “the manatee poop guy” and found that manatee feces function as a food source for invertebrates, subsidizing invertebrate secondary production. I have also studied the effects of drought on emergent adult aquatic insects and fluxes of carbon and nitrogen from isotopically enriched leaf species to aquatic invertebrate consumers.
Why did you decide to join the Jones lab?
I was excited about diving into coastal ecology and learning about salt marsh ecosystems, and the many opportunities involved with the project. When I visited, the good vibes from the folks in the lab and Nate’s down-to-earth nature made me know it was going to be a good decision. I should mention that I am co-advised by Julia Cherry and everything I said applies to her lab too!
What are your overall career goals?
I hope to continue conducting basic and applied research and to get more involved with teaching, mentoring, and outreach. My goal is to make science accessible to the public and I believe it is my job as a scientist to inform the public about my research and the importance of aquatic ecosystems as a whole.
What advice do you have for anyone interested in graduate school and/or a degree in STEM?
For those interested in graduate school, I’d strongly recommend finding an advisor who you will get along with well, especially when the times are tough, and not one who is simply well-known in your field. The best way to find out about this is to ask direct questions about the advising style to current and former graduate students of the potential advisor. If the potential advisor has had few or no prior graduate students, you can get an idea of this by asking honest, direct questions about how they see their role as an advisor and what are their expectations of you as a student. It’s best to be direct and intentional about questions to make everything clear and to answer questions posed to you honestly. Graduate school is a big commitment not only for yourself, but also your advisor so it’s best to have a good working relationship since graduate school may last 5+ years and you will eventually rely on your advisor for letters of recommendation. I’d also strongly recommend finding a lab or department in which you will have a good community and be surrounded by like-minded people. This may be secondary to finding a good advisor, but it may also have equal weight especially in large labs where you will be reliant on others to teach you new sampling methods or analytical techniques. For those interested in a degree in STEM, I’d recommend finding as many ways to get involved with hands-on experience as possible and to meet others with similar interests. This may be through joining on-campus clubs such as The Wildlife Society or American Fisheries Society, or through getting involved with a research lab. Try to attend a local or regional scientific meeting to meet others in the field who have jobs similar to one you may like. Do your best to get work experience in your field during the summers. This will be very valuable down the road. Check out websites like the Texas A&M job board.
Name 3-5 artists or bands that you’re really into right now.
The Killers, Milky Chance, Red Hot Chili Peppers (all bands I’ve seen in the last year!)
If you could vacation anywhere, where would it be?
Which 4 famous people (alive or dead) would you invite to a dinner party?
David Attenborough, Steve Irwin, Teddy Rosevelt, Robin Williams
If you won the lottery right now, what would you do with the money?
I’d buy a large tract of land which includes streams and coastal access, set up my own lab, and invest the rest of the money to self-fund my own research program on investment returns!