Mickey_B_Pre-Course Blog Post

My name is Mickey Boakye, a Ghanaian, studying for my Ph.D. in the Department of Environmental Science Policy and Management, University of California Berkeley. I study plant functioning and interactions with their environment including their physiological response to climate change. Though I am interested in whole plant functioning I am fascinated with what occurs with plants at the leaf level, particularly for tropical forests. I am curious about how this intricate leaf vein network architecture affects the function of plants. From this perspective, I ask questions related to how different leaf network forms at different scales relate to different functions within the plant. I am also interested in the mechanisms involved in how plants are able to recover after damage attack (resilience) at the leaf level.
My overall goal for this Plant Functional Trait Course (PFTC5) is to learn about plant – plant interactions, both at the plot level and at the community scale. Though I have prior experience with collecting traits data, I have never had the opportunity of working on an elevational gradient to predict how climate drivers influence plant performance; I will like to gain an understanding of how abiotic factors playout in the functioning and distribution of plants in the ecosystem. I believe my goal will be met after I have the experience and procedures involved in data collection at the plant community level, processing it and making meaningful interpretations out of it.

I have a peculiar fascination with and affection for tropical environments so hosting the course in Peru added to the excitement. Moreover, as someone passionate about ecological and biological diversity and travel, this course is tailormade for me. Unlike many other places, Peru is unique, in that the Andes Mountains and it’s prevailing weather conditions provide a wide array of geographical characteristics adding more flavor to species richness and distribution. Professionally, it is an exciting opportunity to meet and network with scientists doing cutting edge work in the field of ecology, particularly to understand and define the rules of excellent fieldwork planning, data collection through to publication. As a scientist I am driven by curiosity and this course presents a myriad ways to fulfill this drive; through providing the platform for asking questions and offering diverse channels to solving them. This course creates an opportunity for learning, sharing ideas and improving content knowledge. I am excited to have the ear of scientists to communicate to and develop skillset than can be passed on to the next generation of science researchers.

Climate change has increasingly gained much attention therefore I have the perception the inhabitants of Peru will at least be familiar with the general concepts relating to its causes and eventual consequence. Though many people believe that indeed, the planet is changing (warming), a section of people do not attribute this to climate. I would be curious to know what the inhabitants of Peru think, perhaps there may be divergent views.
In my home country, Ghana, climate change awareness is on the rise and has contributed immensely to the general public’s perception and approach to it. Majority are advocating for afforestation and forest restoration programs as measures to pacify climate change. This mindset stems from climate change learning strategies that was put in place to sensitize the public about its implications. Moreover, traditional cultural practices outlaw the felling of trees and vegetation clearance in general, which has contributed in part, to the vast majority of forested areas in the rural settings.
I am poised for more knowledge and adventure!

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