You could say that Scott Mangan began his ecology field work as a child, exploring the forest in his own back yard in rural Wisconsin. As a child, he was always fascinated by the multitude of species interactions that occurred in the small woodlot near his home. His early interests led him to complete undergraduate and master’s degrees in Biology at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. It was there where community ecologist, Dr. Gregory Adler, first introduced him to the extreme diversity of tropical forests of Central America and Southeast Asia. He completed his PhD at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana with Dr. James Bever. For both his Masters and doctoral research, he focused on determining the ecological importance of soil-borne fungi to tropical forest regeneration. Most tropical trees are dependent on the symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi. These belowground fungi colonize tree roots and effectively increase the surface area of the tree’s root system. The fungus provides the tree with the ability access scarce nutrients, whereas the tree provides the fungus with sugars.
I have just finished my first year in the Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior PhD program at Indiana University (Bloomington). I study the community ecology of infectious disease, using a zooplankton - fungus model system. I am interested in how community level interactions (different species interacting with each other and with their environment) can promote or prevent fungal epidemics in Daphnia populations in Midwestern lakes.
I just finished my summer training for Teach for America and am about to begin my first year as a high school math teacher. Environmental Studies gave me the foundation in applied math and science I need to bring the concepts I am teaching to my students.
I'm currently working as a blogger and science writer at Smithsonian Magazine. The courses I took as part of the social sciences track of the environmental studies major have been incredibly valuable for me in understanding science and environmental stories in a social context, and using these skills to relate hard science concepts and studies to the public as a whole.
I'm spending the summer working on an ecological field study in Tibet, looking at how climate change is affecting the grassland and the local nomadic herders. In the spring I will go to Hangzhou, China to start research under a Fulbright grant--I'll be looking at climate change effects on plant populations. My ecology classes and summer research experiences really gave me the perspective I needed to start developing my own interests, and I feel so lucky to have been part of such an encouraging research environment.
Since graduation I have been coordinating outreach for an energy efficiency program for homes and small businesses in Bellingham, Washington. My environmental studies thesis working with local businesses on sustainability is one of the key reasons why I was hired. The research skills gained at Wash U and support from outstanding professors also helped me succeed in my application for a Fulbright Grant. I am excited to say that for the 2010-2011 year I will be conducting independent research on Women and Environmental Leadership in Togo, West Africa.
After graduating, I worked for 6 months at Archbold Biological Station in Lake Placid, Florida collecting data on endangered plants and conducting an independent project on a local invasive grass. I also worked for 5 months as a technician at Washington University looking at the effects of climate change and habitat fragmentation on changes in pollinator behavior. I will be entering a PhD program at the University of Minnesota in the fall and will study the population dynamics of invasive species. The Environmental Studies major helped me discover my love for ecology and science in general. Classes like Experimental Ecology lab and Population Ecology gave me a wide breadth of knowledge across the field and an advantage for competitive internships and grad school.
I am currently an NSF fellow in Civil Engineering at the University of Michigan developing thermally adaptive materials to improve building energy efficiency. The EnSt program provided a comprehensive foundation in environmental science which has shaped my approach to sustainable design in engineering. As an EnSt student at Wash U, I loved the combination of creativity and mathematical modeling employed to study ecosystem dynamics in courses like Population and Community Ecology as well as locally-oriented ecological monitoring/protection projects in Senior Seminar. This coursework inspired my bachelor's thesis, one of my favorite experiences as an undergrad, which was made all the more enriching due to the time my thesis adviser, Dr. Jeff Catalano, and GIS analyst Bill Winston took to work with me individually on the project.