Jordan Hartman joined INHS and the Collaborative Conservation Genomics Laboratory on January 1 as a Postdoctoral Researcher with Dr. Mark Davis. She did her undergraduate work at the University of Missouri in Fisheries and Wildlife. She then moved to Tennessee to get her master’s in biology studying habitat suitability modeling for freshwater mussels. She recently completed her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois under Dr. Eric Larson where she studied the process of the invasion of Eastern Banded Killifish in Illinois using different genetic and genomic techniques.
We sat down with Jordan to ask her a few questions about her work, how she got started in the sciences, and what advice she has for other scientists.
What is your background before coming to work at the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS)?
During my undergrad at the University of Missouri, I had a very taxonomically broad research career – from picking macroinvertebrates out of water samples to studying fecundity in clownfish to assessing the impacts of neonicotinoids on tadpole behavior. For my master’s research, I studied how large geomorphological environmental features impacted habitat suitability for multispecies assemblages of freshwater mussels. And, for the past four years, I have been working on my Ph.D. at UIUC studying invasive Eastern Banded Killifish in Illinois using multiple conservation genetic/genomic techniques.
What are you looking forward to the most in your new role at INHS?
I am really looking forward to starting research on a new group of organisms and a whole new ecosystem with my project on Little Brown Bats across the United States. I am hoping to learn new skills while integrating skills that I already have in order to help make recommendations for conservation and management.
How old were you when you first became interested in science? What sparked your interest?
I first became excited about science in the 2nd grade when I took a field trip to the zoo and saw the penguin exhibit! From that moment on, I wanted to be a penguin trainer... and while my research interests have changed over the years, penguins are still my favorite animal.
Who or what drew you to study conservation genomics?
My research so far has been very taxonomically broad - I have always been interested in and curious about a lot of different species but I have always wanted my research to matter. One thing that I love about conservation genomics is that you can use similar techniques to answer a lot of questions about many different taxa. This research can then be used to recommend conservation actions and policies.
What are common misconceptions about your career? OR What question do you get asked most frequently about your career or the subject you study?
I think a common misconception about fish and wildlife careers is that there is only one real career path but there are so many different options that can satisfy a wide variety of people and personalities – there are people who love being out in the field doing fieldwork, others that like more policy-focused work, or some (like myself) that enjoy being in the lab and all this work can take place within agencies, academia, and industry.
What are some challenges you’ve faced in your career?
Some of the biggest challenges I have faced have come from my struggles with mental health. Being in graduate school is hard, exhausting, and can push you to your limits – and it is especially difficult when you struggle with things like anxiety and depression. Having a good support system (whether it is family, friends, or lab mates) is so important.
What do you wish more people understood about science or being a scientist?
I wish people knew that not all scientists look like the ‘typical mad scientist’ closed up in a laboratory by themselves. We are moving away from that stereotype and more and more scientists are becoming an extremely diverse group of people who actually like to collaborate and work with each other (in my experience).
What advice would you give to future scientists?
Don’t be afraid to pursue what you are passionate about. The passion you have for a topic is what will help you get through the tough times and make the good times even more rewarding!
Jordan can be found in the genomics laboratory at the Natural Resources Annex located at 1910 South Griffith Dr, 61820 Champaign, IL. Jordan can be reached by email at email@example.com.