Scientist Spotlight #4: Sander Denham

Welcome back to another Scientist Spotlight! Today, meet Sander Denham, a PhD student studying forest biology in Indiana.

Sander Denham - 2
Tell us about yourself!
I am a first year PhD student at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. I am interested in forest ecology and the roles of water and carbon cycling between the atmosphere and biosphere in forest ecosystems.
When and why did you decide to become a scientist? Why did you decide on your particular field?
I decided to become a scientist after many years of constantly asking questions that no one seemed to know the answer to. They didn’t know the answer because there was a gap in knowledge and one day I realized that I could potentially fill that gap. I decided on forest ecology because I have always loved the outdoors and plants (specifically trees) fascinate me. They are incredibly dynamic for seemingly being so stationary.
What does your day-to-day life as a scientist entail?
While much of my time these days are spent on a computer analyzing data Sander Denham - 1and number crunching, I still get to spend a surprising amount of time outside in the field, collecting data, making observations, developing new and exciting questions.
What was your favorite part about science when you were in middle school or high school? How did that carry forward to the work you do now? 
Experiments! Definitely conducting experiments and drawing conclusions based on observations. For me, learning science was the most interactive of subjects and the most comprehensive. Science encompasses so many different fields of study that come together, everything is connected.
Why did you decide to participate in LPS?
I think science in one of the most rewarding fields to pursue, but also one that receives very little appreciate from those outside of the field. It is one of those fields that can sometimes feel impossible to actually create a career from and can be easily dismissed. I think it is important to let the younger generation know that is is entirely possible to have a wonderful career in science, one that is fulfilling, engaging, and even fun.


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