Lei_PictureI am a Ph.D Candidate in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution at Tufts University, a member of the Reed Research Group and a doctoral fellow in the NSF IGERT program in Water Diplomacy. My primary academic interest is studying how animal behaviors like habitat selection and dispersal modulate the impacts of human activities on animal populations. I am also keenly interested in wetland ecosystems for their great diversity, complexity, abundant ecosystem service value, and role as a primary nexus between human and natural water needs.

My research in the Biology department at Tufts has focused on using mark-recapture studies, radio telemetry, and population genetics to understand the movement and landscape ecology of the Hawaiian gallinule (Gallinula galeata sandvicensis), an endangered, endemic Hawaiian waterbird, and integrating detailed knowledge of its movement behavior into quantitative, predictive models of population viability and extinction risk.

As a Water Diplomacy Fellow, I work to enhance the role that ecologists and ecological science play in decision-making in complex, especially transboundary water management issues. Because water is an essential, dynamic, and increasingly limited resource, and both societal (human) and natural (ecological) domains are tied closely to one another through the nexus of water, new interdisciplinary frameworks are required to manage increasingly complex water management issues in the 21st century. My research presents new conceptual frameworks for integrating ecological information in existing water management decision making processes.

I am currently the advisory ecologist for the Livable Hawaii Kai Hui, a grassroots cultural and environmental conservation non-profit in eastern Honolulu, Hawai`i, and formerly worked as a visiting conservation scientist at the Center for Large Landscape Conservation in Bozeman, Montana.

The majority of my free time is devoted to learning about natural history (right now, working on my entomology, botany and field geology skills!) and practicing martial arts (I am presently studying Aikido, Muay Thai, and Brazilian Jiujitsu). I also have a deep and abiding love for America’s National Parks and Wildlife Refuges, and have been trying to visit as many as possible in my travels.