Working in aquatic science is a dream come true for Matthew Wilson, the Entomology Group’s new staff scientist. Growing up, he thought he wanted to study primates. But his path took a fateful turn after a high school aquatic ecology class.
“I grew up around streams and fishing in rural northeastern Ohio. And I love water. After taking that aquatic ecology class, I realized I could spend my whole life in streams and around water. It was my ah-ha moment,” he recalls.
Wilson earned his bachelor’s in biology from Hiram College and his Master of Science from Bucknell University, where he studied patterns in the structure of invertebrate communities in the Susquehanna River.
“While at Bucknell, I learned about Stroud Center and its reputation for high-quality research.” On a fellowship at the University of British Columbia, he studied how the structure of food webs in streams affect interactions between streams and their riparian ecosystems.
AS FATE WOULD HAVE IT
“When I left Vancouver, serendipity was on my side as this position at Stroud Center was advertised shortly after I came back to the States. I was watching Stroud Center’s employment page pretty closely, and happened to check right after the position was posted. I doubt any applications were expected within the first two hours! I was elated when I was offered the position, and I’m still thrilled to be here,” he says.
“I’m pleased to have Matt on our team,” says John Jackson, Ph.D., head of the Entomology Group. “He has a solid background in invertebrates and was able to hit the ground running.”
YOLO (YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE)
Wilson is an outdoor adventure enthusiast who enjoys fishing, kayaking, hiking, backpacking, snorkeling and hunting for wild mushrooms. He’s also a certified scuba diver. “Scuba certification was required for a study-abroad trip, ‘Biomes of the World,’ during which we traveled around the globe looking at different ecosystems, many of them in marine areas.”
As for the mushroom hunting, “It’s something I’d always wanted to do, and when I was at Bucknell, a friend who knew about local species showed me the ropes,” he says. “He and I now have an ongoing competition to see who can eat the most species. So far he’s winning, but I’m catching up.” Wilson’s love for the hunt has produced an abundance of edible fungi, and fortunately, only one minor stomachache, which taught him “there are some species that are good when growing under certain trees but not when they grow under others.”
The moral, according to Wilson: “It’s fun-gus to study mushrooms, but you shouldn’t take a lichen to all of them.”