We are an all-women team from the University of Colorado, Boulder traveling to NamibRand Nature Reserve to research how fairy circles are created. As active members of 500 Women Scientists, in our blog we will not only cover cool information about fairy circles and Namibia, but also our experience as an all-women field team. Our goal is to help empower women in science, across all age and career stages and across national borders.
Lauren Shoemaker is currently a graduate student at the University of Colorado, Boulder and will soon be moving to the University of Minnesota to start her postdoc. Lauren uses a combination of models, small, and large scale experiments to study the processes that maintain biodiversity. She focuses on the role of spatial structure in promoting coexistence and how complex phenomenon (like fairy circle patterns) emerge from relatively simple processes. She is excited to combine field measurements from this trip with her previous work on spatial population and community modeling to help explain how fairy circles are created and maintained in the Namib desert.
Nichole Barger is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. For the past 20 years Nichole has working as a scientist to support sustainable land management and restoration of ecosystems throughout the world. Her focus as an ecologist is how desert ecosystems work and the resilience of these ecosystems to human activities. Nichole has been working with collaborators Michael Cramer (University of Cape Town) and Walter Tschinkel (Florida State University) to set up experiments to test different hypothesis on why fairy circles form in these grasslands of Namibia. In addition to the fairy circle project, Nichole has worked with international research teams in Inner Mongolia, Venezuela, South Africa and now more recently in the Namib Desert of Namibia.
Holly Barnard is a professor of geography at the University of Colorado’s Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research. Her research is focused on investigating how vegetation processes affect water flow dynamics and pathways in soil and streams, and conversely, how water flow paths affect vegetation function in mountainous terrain. The ultimate goal is to improve our knowledge of how changes in land-use and/or climate will affect water resources and ecosystems. This interdisciplinary research uses state-of-the-art techniques to reveal patterns and processes at scales ranging from the leaf to the watershed to the Namibian fairy circles.