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Whalen Dillon at an overlook in Linville Gorge Wilderness, NC

Whalen Dillon at an overlook in Linville Gorge Wilderness, NC

I have long had a fascination with the interconnected pieces that make up nature​, starting from when my age was in the single digits and continuing to this day. In large part this led me to an undergraduate degree in Biology, during which I studied watershed and disturbance ecology, and got my first introduction to the power of GIS. Some years after completing my bachelor’s degree I was presented with the opportunity to work as a field technician collecting data on a tree disease (sudden oak death) that was ravaging forests where I lived in California. Hiking around beautiful landscapes looking at trees all day sounded like a good deal to me! Little did I know at the time that this would directly lead me to the opportunity to study of this disease full-time as a graduate student. I went from Research Technician in California to PhD student in North Carolina in 18 months. Four years later, I know more about the connections between this disease and the environment than I ever thought I would.

Area of research

I studied the landscape epidemiology ​of the pathogen that causes sudden oak death to understand the relationships between the hosts, pathogen, and environment across multiple scales.

Career goal:

​I am aiming to attain a position, whether academic, public, or private, where I continue to conduct applied and theoretical research in disease ecology, as well as provide education and outreach opportunities to ​broad audiences.

Previous degrees and where earned:

​Bachelors of Science in Biology, The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA​

Other interests/activities:

​I enjoy hiking and backpacking, cooking, brewing beer, traveling, and taking pictures.

Whalen completed his PhD in May 2017 and is currently a post-doc at the University of Florida.