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2016 NSF Graduate Research Fellow Alexander Borowicz

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Alexander Borowicz
Alexander Borowicz

Alexander Borowicz

Grad program: Ecology and Evolution
Undergrad: BA in Human Ecology, College of the Atlantic
Hometown: Cedarburg, WI
Advisor: Heather Lynch

How does it feel to earn an NSF GRF?
It’s very exciting to join an incredible group of scientists who produce amazing work. It’s been slowly sinking in since the award was announced.

What will this award allow you to do that you might not have done without it?
The fellowship will allow me to focus more of my time on research but will also undoubtedly open a lot of doors in the future both during graduate school and after.

What will you research and how might it benefit the world?
I’m interested in the idea of niche partitioning, where species or populations interact with their environment in differing ways that minimize overlap and competition. In the Antarctic where I work, the system is simplified, with a lot of species all targeting the same resource. I’m particularly interested in how these species are going to manage to continue to coexist under the rapidly shifting climatic conditions that are currently creating new patterns in the Antarctic peninsula area. This simplified system allows me to test some of the theories about niche differentiation, which can help us understand what will happen under climate change conditions in other parts of the world.

What sparked your interest in your research, or science in general?
I’ve been broadly interested in all aspects of spatial thinking since I first learned how to read maps as a kid, whether it’s fine scale questions of community within an urban space or broad-scale migrations of organisms or global-scale climatic patterns. The Antarctic is a fantastic place that is still partially unexplored, but more importantly, it provides the ability to tackle some really fundamental questions in ecology at the same time as it provides a really dramatic climate change laboratory. It’s hard to spend any time there without coming up with a dozen burning questions for which there are no good answers — yet.

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