KRISTA N OSWALD
Ecologist studying anthropogenic change
Zuckerman Postdoctoral Scholar
me in a nutshell
"Help! I'm in a nutshell! How did I get into this bloody great big 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. One year turned into five as I bounced back and forth between Canada and abroad, as I determined law was not quite where my future lay. 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 science. I thus returned to studies and achieved a BSc Honours in Biology (Dalhousie University).
My honors project examined the effects of anthropogenic noise on nestling Tree Swallows and led me to appreciate birds both as intrinsically wonderful and also as ambassadors for scientific study. Near the end of my degree, I applied for an internship with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (Washington, D.C.) which involved both field research for PhD student Desiree Narango, and demonstrations (both impromptu and planned) of data collection for the community as part of their Neighbourhood Nestwatch program. Desiree hired me mainly for my passion, as at the time I had little of the required experience. This was my first experience communicating science to the public, and I loved it. 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. I spent 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 environment at Ben-Gurion University's Department of Desert Ecology in the Negev. Working with Dr. Uri Roll and Prof. Oded Berger-Tal I am using a new high-tech tracking system (ATLAS) to look at how habitat-use alters 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 (hey, Smith or Liber Ero, I'm coming for you!)
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.