Applied population ecologist joins the CABNR team
Kevin Shoemaker, PhD, one of the newest additions to the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science faculty, is eager to get started on his research and teaching. Shoemaker works in conservation biology and studies ecological data, in order to help other scientists make stronger management decisions. Shoemaker completed his Ph.D. in Conservation Biology from the State University of New York at Syracuse, with a focus on bog turtles and Galapagos giant tortoises.
Shoemaker first became interested in ecology during his undergraduate years at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, where he completed a bachelor’s degree in Biology. Shoemaker always enjoyed working in the outdoors and with animals. He found his passion in conservation and helping at-risk species after graduating, while volunteering in Massachusetts.
“I started volunteering with an environmental consulting company that specialized in wildlife issues, doing their surveys. I loved being outside and I loved doing work that was immediately relevant to the conversation. The work we were doing was influencing how development occurred in Massachusetts,” Shoemaker said.
This work inspired Shoemaker to continue his education and receive his Master’s degree in Conservation Biology and eventually led to him pursuing his Ph.D.
Shoemaker loves working to find solutions to local problems and is excited to begin working in the Great Basin, the Sierras and beyond. His projects range from population ecology of pygmy rabbits and the effects of removing pinyon-juniper on insects, bats, and reptiles in the Great Basin to better understanding the population explosion of starfish on the Great Barrier Reef and unraveling the evolution of plague resistance in black-tailed prairie dogs.
Shoemaker is teaching a course in applied population ecology, which explores the mechanics of population growth/decline in the real world, where uncertainties create risk rather than certainty. Shoemaker is also teaching a graduate seminar “Advanced Analysis Methods in Natural Resources," which will be a course focused on population simulation modeling.
When he isn’t working on research or teaching, Shoemaker enjoys music, playing the guitar, skiing, biking, running and hiking and hopes to get involved with the local music scene here in Reno. “There’s just so many interesting opportunities out here in the Great Basin and the collaboration potential here in the department. I’m so excited to work with the folks at UNR and putting together some pretty neat long-term conservation programs,” Shoemaker said.