Prof. Jake Ferguson
Check out the interview with one of our newest faculty members!
1. Where were you working before joining the University of Hawai'i at Manoa Biology Department?
I was at the University of Minnesota as a postdoc in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology where I studied one of the world's most invasive species, the zebra mussel.
2. Can you explain your new jobs in the Biology department? What are your roles?
I was brought in to develop and teach an undergraduate course in biostatistics. Undergraduate biology training gives students an excellent background for understanding how to think about complex problems, such as those in industry and healthcare. I am very excited about this new course because adding some basic quantitative skills to that training will open up exciting new career opportunities for students.
3. What has been your research focus leading up to this point in your career?
In my role as a quantitative biologist, I have worked on a wide variety of projects, but a common theme in all these projects is using quantitative methods to learn from biological data. A core part of my work at UH Mānoa will be trying to understand better our fundamental limitations in forecasting complex ecological systems. This work addresses how we can take data collected at great expense and turn it into meaningful predictions about the future of economically important fisheries and species at risk of extinction.
4. What brought you to the field of Biology? What is your favorite part about your job?
I came to Biology after completing a Masters degree in Physics. My motivation for switching fields was in part personal, I wanted the opportunity to spend more time in nature, and in part philosophical, I was concerned about the rapid changes occurring in our ecosystems.
My favorite aspect of my job at UH Mānoa is the freedom to focus on projects that I think are both intellectually exciting and important to society.
5. What type of things are you looking forward to being a new part of the UH Mānoa faculty?
While I am looking forward to working with, and learning from, all my great colleagues in the new Life Sciences department and across campus, I am most excited about helping students get the same chances I had to pursue their scientific dreams.
6. Any closing thoughts? Plans for new research? Projects?