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Where The Wild Things Are: Visualizing And Analyzing Biodiversity

Where The Wild Things Are: Visualizing And Analyzing Biodiversity

Monday, January 18 - Friday, January 29, 2021 EST

Online Course

Presented By

The New York Academy of Sciences


Where The Wild Things Are: Visualizing And Analyzing Biodiversity
Where The Wild Things Are: Visualizing And Analyzing Biodiversity

Have you ever wondered how scientists discover and study the diversity of living organisms on Earth? Do you have a passion for exploring biodiversity? Are you worried about the risk of extinction of wildlife on our planet? If you said yes to any of these questions, this course is for you!

We will be immersed in the current tools that biologists use to assess biodiversity and determine what makes a species vulnerable to extinction. Your new toolkit will include making compelling species distribution maps, identify relationships among species based on evolutionary principles, and discern how ecological parameters, such as climate, elevation, and/or accessibility to water impact the geographic distribution of a species.

We will explore several exciting case studies, ranging from viruses, to insects, to mammals, that will allow you to integrate and apply your new biodiversity skills, while learning how evolutionary principles such as natural selection shape past, present, and future geographical patterns. By the end of this course, you will build a set of analytical tools to think like a conservation biologist!

$495/student for this two-week camp

Week 1: January 18-22

Week 2: January 25-29

Online via Zoom. Two hours of in-person teaching time with intermittent group breakout sections Monday through Friday. Students will be assigned work outside of class to be completed independently and in small groups.

Daily Monday through Friday, 4:00-6:00PM EST

Chloe Nash: Hello! My name is Chloe Nash, and I’m a 5th year PhD Candidate in the Committee on Evolutionary Biology (CEB) at the University of Chicago. Growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I have always been fascinated with the ocean realm, especially the extra weird looking fish. After receiving my undergraduate degree in Biology and Environmental Studies from Wesleyan University, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career that combines research and teaching. This brought me to Chicago, a conveniently non-coastal city, for my PhD work. My current research interests are on how we can bridge the gaps among the evolutionary history, geographic distribution, and feeding modes of different species to more accurately predict where species will persist in the future. Most of my research is focused on coral reef fishes in warm, tropical places, in an attempt to answer the question of why some fish can live everywhere while others cannot. Outside of research, I enjoy traveling, scuba diving, playing piano, and spending time with my cat!

Ryan Fuller: Hi everyone! My name is Ryan Fuller and I am a 5th year doctoral candidate in Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago. I grew up in the high-elevation desert of western Colorado, USA where I fell in love with mountain exploration and wildlife observation. I pursued my interest in science at the University of Northern Colorado where I received a bachelor’s and Master’s Degree. In between those degrees, I also worked as a zookeeper caring for endangered and extinct populations of amphibians from around the world! Additionally, I have designed and taught college biology courses while mentoring undergraduates in laboratory and field research. Here in Chicago, my work focuses using genetic and morphological analyses to understand how whole genome duplication originates in alpine flowering plants from China and its impact on evolutionary patterns. When I am not working on science, I enjoy coffee, concerts, fly fishing, bird watching, and playing video games!


  • Students will be able to analyze and interpret species occurrence data using distributional maps.
  • Students will be able to collect genetic sequences from publicly available databases and visualize evolutionary relationships using phylogenetic trees.
  • Students will be able to distinguish among key theories and principles in evolution and apply them to other biology-related fields.

Species distributions are defined as the geographic space that a species occupies. Usually, this is determined by plotting all of the latitude and longitude coordinates where individuals of a species have been observed.

An exploration of evolutionary processes gives us insight to how and why patterns of biodiversity have changed over the course of many millions of years. This information is extremely valuable when assessing hotspots of biodiversity, the impact of a changing climate on current species distributions, and can be used to make informed predictions about where species will be found in the future.

Only an interest in biodiversity and conservation!

Absolutely! Students will be given an introduction to the basics of scientific coding using a computer program called R, which is frequently used in many STEM fields. Throughout the course, we will work through a variety of real world examples where students will learn how to import data, run various analyses, and create visually appealing plots.

Online sessions will meet weekdays, Monday to Friday from 4:00-6:00pm EST. Additionally, students can expect to spend between 5-10 hours outside of class on activities and projects.

Our STEM Camps are for high school students (grades 9-12) only.

The ideal student is self-motivated and eager to deepen their understanding of STEM-related subjects.

There are no prerequisites other than an interest in STEM-related subjects.

Select the camp that you are interested in and scroll down to register.

Payment is due immediately upon registration. The deadline to register is Wednesday January 13.

The two-week camp costs $495/student.

Unfortunately, discounts and scholarships are not available at this time. We hope that this is something we can offer need-based students in the future.

All registrations and payments are final and nonrefundable. Families are not able to reschedule or transfer into a different camp, once registered, so please consider course choices carefully. The Academy has the right to cancel the camp for any reason. If for any reason the Academy, cancels or postpones camp, registered participants will have the option to receive a refund or credit.

Students will earn a certificate from the Academy for successfully completing a STEM Camp.

The courses will be delivered via Zoom. A laptop or computer (Macs &amp PC’s both ok) with access to the Internet is required. In some cases, access to mobile devices will also be required. Additional software requirements vary by camp - please see individual STEM Camp details for more information.

If you are experiencing issues for any reason, you can contact

You can share feedback directly with the instructor or by emailing Families will also be invited to complete a survey at the conclusion of the program, to provide additional feedback.

Images and Documents

Where The Wild Things Are: Visualizing And Analyzing Biodiversity

A visualization of genetic data used to understand the differences between populations of species across wide landscapes.

Where The Wild Things Are: Visualizing And Analyzing Biodiversity

Collecting plants from the Hengduan Mountain biodiversity hotspot, Sichuan, China.

Where The Wild Things Are: Visualizing And Analyzing Biodiversity

Chloe recording underwater footage of fish behavior in a coral reef off of Moorea, French Polynesia.

Where The Wild Things Are: Visualizing And Analyzing Biodiversity

Ryan prepares to ride a donkey to the alpine reaches of Haba Snow Mountain (Yunnan, China) in search of plants from the genus Rhododendron. Collecting specimens for scientific research is often the first step in biodiversity analyses.