Dr. Amy Erickson is IEA's Newest VP
Following the 27th International Interdisciplinary Conference on the Environment, Dr. Amy Erickson was nominated for the Vice Presidency of the Interdisciplinary Environmental Association. She will serve as Vice President for the 2023-2025 term. Dr. Erickson is a marine ecologist and Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Louisiana State University Shreveport in Shreveport, Louisiana, where she has been teaching, conducting research, and performing service for the past 15 years.
She is particularly interested in chemical ecology and has worked in mangrove, seagrass, and coral reef ecosystems. Dr. Erickson’s research has been published in The Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology and The Journal of Chemical Ecology. She is the recipient of multiple grants from the LA Board of Regents Support Fund, the most recent of which advances studies in GIS. Dr. Erickson has served as Graduate Director of the MS in Biological Sciences Program at LSUS, a member of the Science and Education Advisory Council for the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, and a research associate/collaborator of the Smithsonian Marine Station in Fort Pierce. Currently, Dr. Erickson is working on the control of the invasive, freshwater fern Salvinia molesta, which is particularly problematic in Louisiana and Texas.
To learn more about the IEA’s newest VP, check out the Q&A below!
Q: How did you get involved with the IEA?
A: I saw a post on Facebook by IEA’s President Greg Cronin about the 2021 IICE meeting and thought it would be a great venue to present my environmental research.
Q: What are your objectives as vice president?
A: The primary responsibility of the vice president is the scientific program of the IICE. Beyond that though, I think that the IEA can play an important role in promoting sustainability and stewardship.
Q: How do you plan on executing these objectives?
A: I will work with IEA leadership and KAO chapters to identify key issues we feel are important to highlight at the upcoming IICE. Regarding sustainability and stewardship, we can help by making science accessible to a greater audience, generating awareness about key environmental issues, and educating people on the value of our planet and its resources. What is most important though, and this is where an interdisciplinary approach is crucial, is getting people to cultivate a greater appreciation of our planet so much so that they will be willing to protect it.
Q: How has your career shaped your research interests and what are some future professional goals that you have?
A: I was first inspired as an undergraduate to go into marine biology by Dr. Phillip Sze. I completed a senior thesis under his direction which related to marine feeding ecology. I continued to explore the subject across a variety of marine habitats while under the direction of both Drs. Susan Bell and Clinton Dawes, who served as my Ph.D. advisors, and Drs. Valerie Paul and Candy Feller, who served as my postdoctoral advisors. All of them provided me with transformative professional opportunities, encouraging me to study questions and test hypotheses using a variety of methods, and the ability to do so across several locations throughout Florida and the Caribbean. I hope to provide similar, transformative research opportunities for students under my direction as well.
Q: What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing our planet?
A: This is two-fold. First, climate change, and second it being politicized. Trying to get people to 1) understand the science and 2) care enough to do something about it was difficult to start with. Now, however, the task seems even more daunting, which simply means we need to be even more creative when trying to promote sustainability.
Q: What are the biggest consequences of climate change from your perspective?
A: There are so many, it’s hard to choose. From the perspective of the planet though, I think it would be the loss of genetic biodiversity that provides resiliency against environmental change. From the human perspective, we too will need to be more adaptive in behavior than in the past.
Q: How do you define interdisciplinary and in what ways do you practice interdisciplinary work in your research?
A: To me, interdisciplinary means bringing together knowledge and experience from different areas of study. Doing so provides us with a means to better understand and solve problems we encounter on a daily basis by incorporating multiple perspectives. Right now, my research is interdisciplinary within the sciences. I have worked with different types of biologists and chemists.
Q: What are your expectations for this year’s IICE?
A: While a face-to-face format has been the cornerstone of scientific meetings for decades, I expect that the IICE will continue to be online this year. This format has the ability to foster greater participation by removing economic barriers associated with travel. It also enables participation for those individuals who may not yet be comfortable traveling due to COVID.
Q: In what ways do you want to see the IEA grow?
A: I would love to see the number of our KAO chapters increase, as well as participation in existing chapters. I also would love to see greater international participation in the organization.
Q: How do you prepare students who are entering such a critical and relevant field of work?
A: It is critical that students who want to pursue a career in environmental science gain knowledge, skills, and experience. This means they should take lecture and laboratory courses in the sciences and mathematics but because this field is interdisciplinary relevant coursework in business, the humanities, social sciences, human and behavioral sciences, and education also will be useful. Gaining skills frequently relates to the use and application of scientific equipment and computer software. The above should be supplemented with relevant research, volunteer, and internship opportunities. These opportunities provide students with real-world experience, making them more marketable when searching for employment. Individuals or organizations with which students volunteer or intern also provide valuable career advice. Finally, students are encouraged to look at job ads early on to gain an understanding of how they can best prepare for a successful career.
Dr. Erickson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org