“I didn’t have any doubts about who to pick,” says Dr. Catarina Ferreira about choosing Trent for her postdoctoral research. Originally from Portugal, Dr. Ferreira was drawn to the Integrative Wildlife Conservation Lab at Trent, which is led by Canada Research Chair in Terrestrial Ecology Dr. Dennis Murray.
“Trent is well-known for wildlife conservation and Dr. Murray is a leading authority on mammal population ecology who has first-hand experience with the research topics I am addressing,” she says.
While Dr. Ferreira is benefiting from the opportunity to work with one of the leading researchers in her field, the University is also benefiting from her choice to study at Trent. Most recently, Dr. Ferreira was awarded the prestigious Marie Curie Fellowship which provides much-needed funding for her research project.
“A fellowship like this opens doors,” says Dr. Ferreira. “It will enable me to work for the next three years in Canada and Germany and to establish an international network for collaboration.”
According to Dr. Murray, working with a postdoctoral scholar of Dr. Ferreira’s calibre gives Trent the chance to create important international connections that will help to further its role as a world leader in the fields of ecology and conservation biology.
“The Marie Curie Fellowship is a very prestigious award given to rising stars in their respective field and it is evident that Catarina is most deserving of this award given her incredible scholastic accomplishments during her career,” says Professor Murray. “Trent University is very fortunate to have a scholar like Catarina working on campus.”
Research of International Importance
Dr. Ferreira’s research at Trent looks at integrated approaches to protecting what are known as “umbrella species”, or species whose protection also serves to protect the habitat and many other species within their ecological community. While her research is of international importance, her focus is on the challenges and impacts of landscape fragmentation, which is of particular relevance in highly developed regions such as Europe. Ultimately she expects her research to be used to establish guidelines to maintain and restore connectivity in these fragmented landscapes through the use of green corridors that allow genetic exchange between populations and ensure species’ viability.
Using the bobcat and the Canada lynx, Dr. Ferreira will study their ecological tolerance to fragmentation in order to develop a model for the Eurasian lynx as well as the Iberian lynx, the most threatened species of cat in the world. According to Dr. Ferreira, Trent will play a pivotal role in that research: “Trent offers state-of the art facilities and it has one of the most active and dynamic research communities in ecology and conservation biology,” she explains.
Also integral to the success of the project is the lab run by Dr. Murray, which Dr. Ferreira credits with a novel approach to the challenge of gathering the vast amount of data needed to build effective models.
“The Murray lab is unique in that it collaborates with the fur industry to get access to fur samples from virtually every fur-bearer that is captured in North America,” she explains, adding: “This is something that is very distinctive about Trent and the Murray lab in particular, and the success of the project depends on that.”
In the last year of the project, Dr. Ferreira will travel to Germany where, using data collected at Trent, she will work on developing models that can be used to create guidelines for species conservation and policy-making. Along with the expertise she will gain from working in the Murray lab, Dr. Ferreira is excited by the international connections she will make with scholars both in Germany and here at Trent – connections that she plans to maintain when she returns home. “I will gain a huge amount of technical skills from this project as well as an international network which will strengthen my career,” says Dr. Ferreira, “which I hope will hopefully bring more opportunities to learn, to collaborate, and to tackle new challenges in conservation biology in the future.”
About the Marie Curie Fellowship
Marie Curie Fellowships provide European placements for pre and post-doctoral researchers, usually up to the age of 35, and for experienced researchers. Fellowships are available in any scientific discipline that contributes to the objectives of the European Fifth Framework Programme (FP5). Applicants to this activity are young and experienced researchers and host organizations in academia and industry.
Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014.