SORTEE member voices – William Gearty

By SORTEE | September 26, 2022

[SORTEE member voices is a weekly Q&A with a different SORTEE member]

Name: William Gearty.

Date: 13 July 2021.

Position: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Research and/or work interests: The degree to which species diversify taxonomically and functionally varies dramatically across time, space, and the tree of life. This ultimately has resulted in the vast diversity and disparity that we see on Earth today. Numerous physiological, ecological, and environmental conditions have been implicated as the causes for this variation. I integrate tools and theory from paleontology, geology, ecology, and physiology to study how these components collectively drive and constrain diversity and disparity across time, space, and life. Beyond understanding how and why life diversified the way it did in the past, my research provides insights into how modern anthropogenic environmental shifts may ultimately influence the ecology and evolution of today’s biosphere.

How did you become interested in open research?
Early in my career, I noticed one of the most famous datasets in my field (paleontology) was never published online. From that point, I strived to make sure my research was open so others wouldn’t run into the problem of not being able to access my research or data.    

What’s an open science practice or topic that you’ve changed your views on within the last few years? Why?
As a graduate student, I was very supportive of preprint servers because it meant I got to read the newest research even sooner. However, now as a postdoc I’m more weary of utilizing them for my own research because of a fear of getting scooped.    

What do you see as the greatest challenge facing the open / reliable / transparent science movement at large or specifically in ecology and evolutionary biology?
Publishing open access is way too expensive.    

Do you have a favorite non-human organism? What is it and why is it your favorite?
Glyptodon. Sure armadillos are awesome, but what if you had an armadillo the size of a car?!    

What is something about your work in science that your friends outside of science (or the general public) would find surprising?
When I tell my friends that I study paleontology and paleoecology, they usually think that involves a lot of field work. In reality, I’ve only ever done paleontological field work once (during college) and most of my work is computational with large databases.    

Where to find you online?:

William Gearty