Episode 035: Meet a Wildlife Biologist: Tyus D. Williams


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Wildlife biologist Tyus D. Williams shares with us his research on sea turtles, and jaguars. We also learn about the challenges and obstacles he faced in becoming a scientist. And indirectly, there are many connections to the NGSS 5 innovations that highlight the value of NGSS designed teaching.

Note: Tyus has asked to acknowledge and correct two mistakes made during his statements in this episode:

1. Statement: Felids are apex predators in almost every major biome.

Correction: Felids can be found in every biome on Earth and many are apex predators utilizing resources from ocean and freshwater systems as well. They are also found throughout Alaska and Canada, where some parts of the geography veer into the Arctic circle. An example of this species would be the Canada lynx.

2. Statement: There are 47 cat species.

Correction: There are 38-40 species of wild cats that are recognized.

Continue the discussion in our Facebook Group.

And remember, you’re phenomenal!

Show Highlights

  • 01:15 - 05:30    Introduction to Tyus' research
  • 05:45 - 11:00    From reptiles to mammals & all about jaguars
  • 11:00 - 14:30    Misconceptions about science and scientists
  • 14:50 - 25:00    Improving representation in science education
  • 25:00 - 41:55    Changing research topics & more about jaguars
  • 42:00 - 46:40    Working as a park ranger
  • 47:00 - 51:50    #SciQFriday
  • 52:00 - 60:00    Resources for teachers & important skills for scientists

 Show Quotes 

"I think one of the biggest things when it comes to the misconceptions of a scientists is what a scientist looks like and what a scientist acts like. ... I am a person of color, and I am a minority. And it's 2019, and people are still completely bewildered by the idea that I study animals and I don't play for a basketball team." [11:15 - 11:40] Tyus D. Williams

"How do you find representation of yourself when there wasn't a precedent there in the first place? How do you navigate through a world where there was never an original example for you? And if there was it was completely washed over by our K through 12 education system." [11:55 - 12:10] Tyus D. Williams

"I wish I knew half the things I know now about minorities and sciences when I was growing up as a kid, because it might have really changed the way I saw myself in this field." [13:33 - 13:40] Tyus D. Williams

"You don't have to be a scientist, but you should understand how science works. Understanding science is a fundamental principle that allows you to comprehend the world in a certain way." [19:55 - 20:05] Tyus D. Williams

"And I think one of the most beautiful parts of science is that it's not just having teachers lecture or reading something, it's when you can go outside and conceptualize something on your own, and you can answer it. And I still do that, and I get so happy when I can look at something. And I can take everything that I've learned in be able to draw a,  at least I think, a concise and deductive conclusion on something and go, I understand this, because of the elements on how these are all tied together. " Tyus D. Williams

"Population dynamics is one of two parts. One is understanding the ecosystem-the study area, and then figuring out how to ask the right question, to get proper abstraction that allows you to make better sense of something that you don't understand in nature. And that's what I love about ecological models, because it's just an abstraction of reality, you're just playing around with certain fundamental variables that will exist in nature, to better understand some of these extremely complex and intricate, systems that are occurring every single day." Tyus D. Williams



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