KRISTA N OSWALD
Ecologist studying anthropogenic change
me in a nutshell
"Help! I'm in a nutshell! How did I get into this bloody great big nutshell?"
I'm a postdoctoral scholar studying affects of human development on a desert bird in Israel. My main interest lies in studying how animals (mostly birds) are coping with the insane amount of changes we are doing to this planet. From climate change to land development, humans are having a dramatic effect on biodiversity. Throughout my career, I've been studying these effects in a variety of ways: noise and swallows in Canada, climate effects on a mountain bird in South Africa, and my current studies on the Arabian Babbler in Israel.
me outside the nutshell
Throughout my research career, I have been an active participant in diverse collaborations and communities and have developed a deep understanding of the interactions between birds and their environments. I initially graduated with a BA in World History (University of Calgary) with the aim of studying environmental law. I have always been obsessed with experiencing different areas of the world, and I took a year to work abroad in Australia as I applied for law schools. While on an overland trek from Cape Town to Nairobi, I realized my true passion was to focus more directly on environmental conservation through STEM research. As I often put it, as a child I wanted to wear the red of Star Trek command, but it turns out my heart wanted to wear the blue shirt of a science officer. I thus returned to studies and achieved a BSc Honours in Biology (Dalhousie University).
My undergraduate work looked at how noise effects food delivery in nestling Tree Swallows and led me to appreciate birds both as intrinsically wonderful and also as ambassadors for scientific study. I then did a short internship with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (Washington, D.C.). While at the Smithsonian I applied to graduate programs abroad, first looking into South Africa as the place where I had first realized my true interest in biology and conservation. Success! I found an amazing team and research project trying to figure out why Cape Rockjumper populations were declining in their limited mountain range in South Africa. I stayed five years in South Africa, where I attained a MSc (Nelson Mandela University) and PhD (Rhodes University) in avian ecology.
I am currently a postdoctoral researcher studying interactions between birds and their modified environment at Ben-Gurion University's desert campus in the Negev. Working with Profs. Uri Roll and Oded Berger-Tal I am using a new high-tech tracking system (ATLAS) to look at how modified habitats affect the behaviour and reproduction of desert birds, amid a matrix of human-altered habitats. It's already yielded some amazing insights, and I will spend the next year getting all this information out to the world while looking for the next steps.
In my free time I love travel, photography, and travel photography (see my instagram), my cat (Lieutenant Nyota Uhura), occasionally my other cat (Hyperion), my new cat (Endymion), good food, camping, and knitting sweaters.