“If I have seen further, it is by standing on ye shoulders of giants” is a quote that I begin with each semester of General Biology at the University of Wisconsin‐Madison. Famously penned in the late 1600s by Isaac Newton to convey an already‐known metaphor—that we, contemporaries, realize more not merely by our own ability, but because we are lifted by the intellects and insights that preceded us—it is a useful reminder to young biologists that, at its core, science is a progressive accumulation of knowledge.
I am a field ecologist. So, my greatest insights have come from being outdoors, watching organisms interact with one another, and with their environment. Spending time in the wilds of nature also provides me with the opportunity to experience what animals are doing firsthand and have a more complete understanding of the challenges they face. So, while my personal observations and experiences are the raw material, insights of scholars before me hone and bring them into a larger context.
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