I am an ecologist studying the dynamics of natural systems, from local communities of plants and animals to ecosystem function to the combined imacts of life at the continental scale. I am particularly focused on how natural systems respond to human actions, such as climate change, accidental introduction of exotic species, fragmentation, and active management. I use experimental, observational, and mathematical and computational modeling methods, as these approaches are complementary. kosmala_headshot

Technology advancements in the past decade have facilitated new directions in ecological research. The decreased cost of automatic sensors allows for wide-spread collection of high frequency environmental data. Meanwhile, computational power has increased, increasing our ability to search and optimize over large data sets. I use quantitative methods to harness the power of such sensors and computational power, in order to answer nationally and globally pressing challenges centered around biodiversity, ecosystem function and resilience, and sustainability.

I also enjoy expanding the sphere of science to include those who are not professionally trained as scientists. Along with Ali Swanson, Meredith Palmer, and Dr. Craig Packer and in collaboration with the Zooniverse, I run the Snapshot Serengeti citizen science project. Volunteers help us identify¬†African animals in images taken by camera traps in Serengeti National Park. We are using the results to study large mammal community dynamics in one of the few places left on earth that has a relatively low human footprint. You can follow the project’s progress on its blog, on Facebook, and¬†on Twitter.

I am currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University in the lab of Dr. Andrew Richardson. We are using a network of automated cameras deployed across North America to better understand tree and plant phenology (seasonal changes) in response to climate change. I am designing a citizen science project that uses the images taken by these cameras and asks volunteers to help us identify specific phenological events. The results will lead to a continental-scale understanding of the seasonal dynamics of the carbon cycle.

Current and Past Affiliations