Postdoctoral researcher Hillary Glandon joined the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) Lake Michigan Biological Station in May 2021. She’s excited to get out in the field and learn about the Lake Michigan ecosystem!
Hillary has studied a wide range of aquatic animals—from herring to oysters to whales—in a variety of systems across the world. And her interest in these underwater creatures started young.
“I have always been inquisitive,” she said. “It sounds cliche, but childhood trips to the Shedd Aquarium solidified my interest in the aquatic realm.”
Hillary earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Emory University and her master’s degree in marine biology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
She then spent 10 years working in the Chesapeake Bay, investigating the ecological and physiological effects of large-scale oyster restoration on the Chesapeake ecosystem.
“The importance of animals that live on the floor of lakes, rivers, and the ocean is often underappreciated,” Hillary said. “My work in the Chesapeake Bay showed me that these creatures are often critical to the health of aquatic ecosystems.”
These experiences inspired Hillary to pursue a PhD in marine, estuarine, and environmental science from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. Her dissertation work focussed on how climate change is impacting blue crab populations in the Chesapeake Bay.
After graduating, Hillary returned to the University of North Carolina Wilmington as a postdoctoral researcher. There she investigated the mechanism behind the susceptibility of certain species of marine mammals to stranding in response to anthropogenic sonar activity.
Now we’re excited to say Hillary has joined the INHS team at our Lake Michigan Biological Station!
People are often curious about Hillary’s career as a marine biologist. Their top question: has she ever hugged a dolphin?
“I have not, BUT I have helped rescue harbor porpoises (smaller versions of dolphins) from fishing nets in the Bay of Fundy,” Hillary said. “I wouldn't call wrangling a scared, wild animal into a boat the same thing as a hug, but it is pretty close!”
For Hillary, one of the biggest challenges in her career has been balancing her research interests with the types of things that funding agencies are willing to support.
“It can take some creativity to come up with scientifically interesting, fundable science,” she said.
In general, Hillary wishes that more people understood that “science is all about asking questions rather than providing answers.”
“When a scientist ‘changes their mind’ it simply means that new information has become available that allowed for a better understanding of the system in question,” Hillary explained. “The best science leads to more questions, not answers.”