The Gratton lab welcomes its newest lab member, Matt McCary! Matt joins us from the Wise lab at the University of Illinois in Chicago where he recently completed his PhD . Matt will be working with Claudio, Randy Jackson, and Tony Ives on projects related to understanding ecosystem linkages between aquatic and terrestrial environments in Iceland. I recently had a chance to ask Matt about his research projects, hobbies, and life at UW.
- Where are you from? Where did you do your PhD?
I am from the south suburbs of Chicago, IL. I received my Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
- What was your PhD about? What are your research interests?
My dissertation research examined the effects of invasive plants on soil food webs in metropolitan woodland ecosystems. Here, I adopted a multidisciplinary framework, which included a combination of meta-analyses, field experimentation, and Next-Generation DNA sequencing to profile soil microbial communities. In a nutshell, my dissertation findings show that invasive plants can severely alter the function and structure of woodland food webs, with the effect weakening as you move up trophic levels.
- What will you be working on in the Gratton lab?
The project I will be working on as an NSF postdoctoral research fellow will examine how vegetation productivity and structure alters feedback loops between above- and belowground food webs. This research will be conducted at Lake Mývatn in northeastern Iceland; a system known for its high production of aquatic insects (midges), which emerge, mate and die on land, thereby providing a resource subsidy to the surrounding terrestrial landscape. I will investigate how these midge subsidies change the energy flow of food webs in subarctic heathland (low productivity) and grassland (high productivity) ecosystems. Because of the structure and low production of heathlands surrounding Lake Mývatn, I expect these ecosystems to exhibit the most pronounced feedback-loop changes in response to midge subsidies.
- Where can we find you when not at work?
You can find me at the gym working out, playing computer chess games just about anywhere, or watching Netflix at home.
- What are you looking forward to doing in Madison?
Going to a Badger football game!!
- What is your favorite 90s TV show or song?
Favorite 90s TV show: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
- What’s your favorite insect?
Although it is technically not an insect, the zebra jumping spider (Salticus scenicus) is my favorite!