Zoë Zilz

Ecology, Evolution & Marine Biology

Research Interests

Broadly, I study how organisms interact with each other in the coastal ecosystems on our coastline. This broad statement covers many fields, so I get to do many different types of research! Currently, I am primarily focused on the connections between coastal marine and coastal terrestrial habitats, and how large land animals (think coyotes, bears, mountain lions, deer) facilitate those connections by eating marine wildlife and then transporting those nutrients inland. I'm particularly curious about how human activities and infrastructure like roads and buildings change these connections. I am also interested in how diseases interplay with these connections, and if coastal mammals have different diseases than their inland counterparts because of their more marine-based diet.

Mentoring Experiences

I've been mentoring undergraduates since 2015 when I began doing research for my master's thesis. I've always enjoyed providing young scientists with the opportunity to get their hands dirty. Because I work with diseases this is often a literal experience! I enjoy the constant challenge of finding the element of my research (or sometimes someone else's!) that fits best with my mentee's interests. I never want these students to do research that doesn't spark their curiosity. This can be tough at times because we don't all start out knowing what we want to do, but seeing a student finally find that thing that makes them tick is such a cool and rewarding experience!

Meaning of the Award

It feels very special to be recognized for all of the mentoring I've done over the past decade, but mostly it just reminds me to thank all of the undergraduates and high school students who have put up with my craziness over the years! They are the ones who truly deserve awards. Winning an award like this just reminds me how important it is to keep engaging with students and really trying to make a difference for each individual. Thanks so much for the honor!