Introducing “How Molecular Ecologists Work”


I’ve always been fascinated by how people get all their work done. Scientists in particular make for a great study of working habits for two main reasons: they typically juggle a variety of tasks and they largely determine their own work schedules. This results in a huge variety of work habits: night owls, early birds, multitaskers, focus-taskers, and on and on. This might be particularly true for a scientist who self-identifies as a “molecular ecologist”, someone who presumably combine aspects of fieldwork, the generation of molecular data, informatics/analysis, and communication.

North_Carolina_biologist_Gabrielle_Graeter_makes_field_notes_(8191316356)_2I’ve been a long-time reader of Lifehacker’s “How I Work” series, an interview format in which folks from various organizations detail the secrets behind their work habits, allowing the reader to get a peek into the habits of someone whose work they admire. As I’ve read more and more “How I Work” articles, I began to think that this format would work well for scientists. So, we are bringing you a series of interviews that showcase how scientists get stuff done. We’re calling it “How Molecular Ecologists Work”.

The first installment of this series contains interviews with eight diverse scientists: from postdocs to fresh assistant professors to established faculty. I’ll be rolling these interviews out once a week until throughout July and August, plus maybe some bonus interviews that will go un-announced (!).

Schedule for How Molecular Ecologists Work

7/13 – Brant Faircloth, Assistant Professor (Louisiana State University)

7/20 – J. Chris Pires, Associate Professor (University of Missouri)

7/27 – Tracy Heath, Assistant Professor (Iowa State University)

8/3 – Aaron Shafer, Assistant Professor (Trent University)

8/10 – David Toews, Banting Postdoctoral Fellow (Cornell University)

8/17 – Sarah Hird, Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow (UC-Davis) & Assistant Professor (University of Connecticut)

8/24 – Katerina Guschanski, Assistant Professor (Uppsala University)

8/31 – John McCormack, Assistant Professor (Occidental College)


9/7 – Hopi Hoekstra, Professor (Harvard University)

9/14 – Joel McGlothlin, Assistant Professor (Virginia Tech)

9/21 – Matt Fujita, Assistant Professor (University of Texas at Arlington)

All of these talented people have been more than gracious in conducting these interviews and the entire Molecular Ecologist team extends a huge “thank you” their way. I think you’ll really enjoy what they have to say.

If there is someone in your field who you admire and are curious how they get their work done, send me your suggestions for the next installment!

I know there are some Dennis Nedrys out there.

I know there are some Dennis Nedrys out there.


About Rob Denton

I'm a PhD Candidate at The Ohio State University in the Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology. I'm most interested in understanding the evolutionary/ecological consequences of strange reproduction in salamanders (unisexual Ambystoma). Topics I'm likely to write about: population and landscape genetics, mitonuclear interactions, polyploidy, and reptiles/amphibians.
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