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Introducing .... Dr. Yolanda Wiersma
Kerri Green
Dr. Yolanda Wiersma

What is your name?

Yolanda Wiersma

What do you do at Memorial?

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology. My main research area is Landscape Ecology. I teach undergrad courses in Ecology, Landscape Ecology, and Conservation Biology as well as a graduate course in GIS for Landscape Ecology and Conservation Biology.

What is your favorite aspect of your profession?

I like interacting with students. I get really excited when I can help undergraduates find a topic that interests them. Motivated undergraduates are so much fun to teach; they have tremendous energy, enthusiasm and idealism. I also really like working with graduate students and helping them to establish their scientific careers. My favorite aspects of the research side of my profession are planning/conceptualizing the problem, and writing up the results. I like the front- and back-ends of the process best, although I enjoy getting out an visiting my grad students at their field sites.

If you weren't doing this job, what do you think you'd be doing?

When we were still in grad school, my husband I had several "Plan Bs" if we couldn't land academic jobs. They included running a B&B, starting up an environmental education and resource centre, and living in my mother-in-law's basement making pickles to sell at Ontario farmer's markets.

What other interesting jobs have you held?

I was a junior high school teacher in science and math in two fairly different settings – a small Dene/Métis town of 500 in the Northwest Territories, and an "Alternative" school in downtown Toronto with over 400 students from many cultural background (we estimated there were over 80 different languages spoken in the homes of the students).

What are you reading at the moment?

I usually have a few books on the go at once, plus chapter books we read with our kids. With my youngest son, I am reading "the Hobbit" (about the 5th time through it for me), and with my oldest we are working through the Harry Potter series (just finished book 3 – Prisoner of Azkabahn). To try to improve my German (while we are in Munich on sabbatical), I am reading the 2nd Harry Potter (Chamber of Secrets) auf Deutsches. I am also reading John Doyle's "the World is a Ball" to try to better understand the crazy Euro Fussball culture, and for academic reading, I am working through a book a colleague and friend recently co-edited titled "Expert Knowledge and its Application to Landscape Ecology". I just finished a really interesting academic take on photography in Jasper National Park; "Manufacturing National Park Nature" by J. Keri Cronin.

What do you like to do when you are not working?

When the weather is nice, I like to go hiking, camping and canoeing with my husband and two boys. In winter we are a crazy ski family, and go cross-country skiing every chance we can (with a bit of downhill mixed in). I am also learning to play piano and I enjoy having friends over for casual meals.

What historical figure(s) would you like to have lunch with and why?

Every biologist would want to have lunch with Darwin! Actually, even better would be to be at lunch after the July 1, 1858 meeting of the Linnean Society, where Darwin and Wallace's work was first read. Darwin and Wallace weren't present at the reading of their work, but it would have been fascinating to sit in on the reactions of their contemporaries.

What is the one thing you can't live without?


Any other quirky facts that we should know about you?

I used to be a big baseball fall, and once played the national anthems at a Blue Jay's game at Skydome (in my high school band). I also saw the 1992 World Series game 4 there (the Jays won).

Jun 13th, 2013

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