Assistant professor and chair in environmental studies leading research into changing habits of butterflies in warming climate, with help of citizen scientists
Sarah Diamond, an assistant professor in biology and the George B. Mayer Chair in Urban and Environmental Studies, has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Early Career Development (CAREER) grant for her ongoing work with butterflies across the Midwest.
“Species are on the move, appearing in places they never
used to be and disappearing from areas where they once were common,” Diamond
wrote in her grant application. She noted that while many butterfly species are
moving toward the poles or up mountains, some do not and that “ecologists are
trying to understand these differences.”
This research, with help from observations from “citizen scientists,” including grade-school students and their science teachers, will explore “whether traits unique to different butterfly species explain each species’ range shifts over the last several decades,” Diamond wrote.
While Diamond will work with “a diverse array of
early-career researchers and students, including post-doctoral researchers and
graduate students,” she will also include undergrads and high school students
in the work—as well as K-12 students and their teachers.
“It’s absolutely thrilling to have the opportunity to
share the scientific discovery process with so many people,” she said. “I’m
really looking forward to these collaborations to solve the biological puzzle
of why some species move in response to climate change while others don’t.”
Diamond’s lab is focused on evolutionary ecology and global change biology: “From ants to butterflies, we use basic principles of physiological ecology at micro- to macro-scales to develop ecological forecasts of ectothermic species responses to recent climate change,” according to her webpage.
This NSF award of $724,998 is
aimed specifically at the work with butterflies.
The NSF’s CAREER Program is considered the most prestigious award in
support of early-career faculty who have “the potential to serve as academic
role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of
their department or organization,” according to the agency.
Recipients are then considered for
Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in