Ecologists have been fascinated by the vast diversity of nature for years. Since the first expeditions in the mid-19th century, these tireless explorers have observed, surveyed and collected any individual being in a quest to find any pattern, rule or law that could help to order the indomitable complexity of wilderness. Thus, this prevalent edge between differences and commonalities is at the very heart of any ecological research.
Soon after we began our work at Functionalecologists as editors, both of us realized that this duality between what is different and what is common not only holds true for ecology, but also for ecologists! There is clearly large diversity present in ecological researchers: high diversity in study topics (physiology, evolution, behavior, communities, ecosystems, etc.) and taxa (animals, plants, microbes, etc.), but also an enormous diversity in the researchers themselves (gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, culture, etc.). However, it is evident their shared love for nature and their passion to shed light on how our environment works.
With this idea in mind, we decided to explore the diversity behind student researchers to understand a bit more about the “person behind the ecologist”. Completing a PhD is a key moment for scientists that strongly determines the path of any ecologist, and we believed that moment is a great way to explore the diversity of the future generations of scientists. Importantly, there are a number of challenges and triumphs associated with PhD candidacy that are unique to every country; requirements for completion, access to research sites or funds, and personal experiences can be highly variable and bound by differences in societal expectations or norms specific to each region. Thus, we are proud to announce a new series of posts in Functionalecologists, ‘PhDs from around the world’. In this series, young ecologists from anywhere in the world tell us their first steps in ecology, the road to complete a PhD in their country, and where they see themselves after finishing this first stage in their scientific journey. The posts in this series from PhD candidates verify that, independent of our enormous diversity, there will always be ecologists willing to improve our understanding of nature.