Gideon Deme Gywa: The story of a black ecologist growing up in an environment with limited interest in ecology

For Black History Month, the British Ecological Society (BES) journals are celebrating the work of Black ecologists from around the world and sharing their stories. The theme for UK Black History Month this year is Time for Change: Action Not Words. Gideon Deme Gywa (PhD)—a Postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Biology at Case Western Reserve University, OH, USA—shares his story below.

How did you get into ecology?

Mountain ranges showing the northern borders of Ganawuri community where Gideon grew up (Photo credit: Gim Gala).

My name is Gideon and my main research interests in ecology are macroecology, macroevolution, and climate change. I grew up in Ganawuria small rural communityin Plateau State, North-Central Nigeria. Ganawuri community is surrounded by mountains and sits between an altitudinal range of 1000m at its lowest point and 1400m at its highest point. The mountain ranges which delaminate Ganawuri from the northern, eastern, and southern borders make Ganawuri one of the biodiversity hotspots of Plateau State. With fun memories of growing up with my grandparents in a community that is rich in biodiversity, I became more interested in understanding the important role the environment plays in shaping adaptation of species at different geographical gradients over time and space.

What are you researching/working on right now?

Gideon clearing the field and making his mesocosms at Inner Mongolia, China (Photo credit: Mi Chong Rong).

Currently, my research focuses on understanding the physiological (thermal tolerance and metabolic rate), morphological, and dispersal range shifts of butterfly species due to climate change across geographic ranges of North America. Currently, I am enjoying the fact that my work may help to contribute to our understanding of the important role environmental changes could play in shaping the adaptation of species for policy makers to make informed conservation policies.

Looking for?

As an early career researcher, I am looking forward to collaborating more with established researchers with similar research interest like me. Also, I am looking for more opportunities to build my research career by reviewing articles for scientific journals in my area of research interest.

Who are your role models—within ecology and beyond?

Gideon during fieldwork trying to catch female Eremias argus lizards at Inner Mongolia, China (Photo credit: Mi Chong Rong).

I would like to specifically give a shout out to Dr. Shane Campbell-Staton, of Princeton University, whose awesome work makes me love being a black ecologist. Although I haven’t met Shane, either in person or virtually, Shane’s numerous published works helped to shape my ideas during my doctoral studies. I met Dr. Scott V. Edward of Harvard University virtually at the Avian Society of China hybrid international conference and his talk expanded my understanding of how environmental changes can influence the genotypic and phenotypic traits of species. I would also like to commend Dr. Barnabas Daru, of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi who is moving to Standford University in January 2023—Barnabas’ awesome biogeographic analyses makes me love macroecology. Barnabas is always encouraging me and providing guidance through our many email conversations!  

Beyond this, I want to give thanks to Dr. Nicholas Wu who has helped to improve my skills in using R scripts for my analyses. I want to send my shout out to Aaron Akpu Philip who is a doctoral student at Queensland University of Technology, Australia; Dr. Bashir Bolaji Tiamiyu, a lecturer at University of Ilorin, Nigeria; and my last shout out goes to Dr. Ryan Martin and Dr. Sarah Diamond who are both Associate Professors at Case Western Reserve University.

Enjoyed the blogpost and want to reach out to Gideon? Contact him via Twitter here!

2 thoughts on “Gideon Deme Gywa: The story of a black ecologist growing up in an environment with limited interest in ecology

  1. Great work Dr Gideon. The sky is your limit.l know you will continue to make a Aten Nation proud.


  2. We Ganawuri people we are proud of our son
    Because he is naturally talented
    Keep it up 💪👍👍


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