Originally from Montreal, Québec (Canada), I’m an ecologist and conservation biologist. My research has largely focused on urban wildlife. Indeed, that’s what I studied for my PhD (on bats) and MSc (on raptors) projects. Since joining NUS in 2012, I have helped out on a project that investigates bats as reservoirs of emerging infectious diseases and the reasons why they seem immune to these diseases. And I recently completed a collaborative study (with University of Queensland) of street dogs in Singapore (SG).
But my interests have broadened. The more I teach interdisciplinary courses, the more I am convinced that we must tend the human aspect if we are going to solve the environmental crisis and live more sustainably, which is what I care about more than anything. Indeed, recently, I was lead author on a study identifying the 100 most vital research questions for conservation in SE Asia.
So, although most of my honours students have tackled topics related to the biotic impacts of urbanisation, they increasingly study the links between urbanisation and (1) human-Nature relationships and conservation attitudes & behaviours, and (2) ecosystem services. Last year, two of my students completed environmental footprinting studies and one studied invasive snails and their potentially pathogenic parasites. You can read more about my teaching and research here.
However, how much time I can devote to research at NUS has largely been limited because so much of my work has revolved around building ENV 3102 from scratch and then running it. Because experiential education is my preferred mode of teaching, taking students overseas every year to evaluate solutions to environmental challenges in the field is very satisfying, and it’s my favourite teaching activity at NUS.
As for ENV 1101, this is my fourth time teaching it, and the experience has taught me so much about the environmental impacts of human activities, in particular honing my ability to examine these issues from the perspectives of multiple stakeholders and to think holistically. To some extent, this happens as I prepare weekly lessons, but it also happens through my conversations with my awesome students and through reading their blogs (definitely check those out).
When I’m not teaching, doing research or otherwise being a tree-hugger, I indulge my passions for music, dance, skiing (OK, maybe not in SG), SCUBA diving, hiking, tattoos, reading and traveling as much as possible. And maple syrup… on everything, please. But please no bananas (as in, cannot even stand to look at).
One of my favourite quotes, by Frank Lloyd Wright. “I believe in God, only I spell it ‘Nature'”.
The hashtags I wish were trending…
JOANNA COLEMAN, PhD