Q&A with William Godsoe

Interactions Between Plants and Insects in the American West

Q: Where are you from?
A: I'm Canadian; I grew up in Ottawa Ontario.

Q: Why did you decide to study Biology?
A: Since childhood I've had a passion for understanding nature. Biology is just always what I've wanted to do.

Q: Why did you choose to study at the University of Idaho?
I came to the University of Idaho because my Ph.D. advisor, Dr. Olle Pellmyr has a sterling reputation as a scientist and a mentor. In addition, coming to the University of Idaho gave me a chance to do field work throughout the American west and to interact with biology minded mathematicians and statisticians

Q: What makes the University of Idaho a great place to study science in general and specifically biology?
The approach at the University of Idaho is unique in that faculty members greatly encourage extensive collaborations, within biology and between biology and other disciplines such as math, statistics, environmental science and computer science for example. This produces a strong sense of camaraderie and makes it far easier to pursue original new ideas.

Q: Can you tell me about your current research project?
I am currently working on two projects: First, I'm trying to find out if interactions between plants and insects (e.g. insects eating plants) are more important than other factors in the environment. Basically, I am interested in the role of insects in shaping the evolution of plants in nature. My work employs a combination of experiments, correlative studies and theory. This research also gives me an excuse to do extensive fieldwork in the American west from the Mojave Desert of California to the Blue Mountains of Washington.

Second I'm trying to develop a simple, but useful model for the relationship between an organisms environmental requirements and its distribution.

Q: Why is this research important?
A: We now know that the ecology of planet earth is changing rapidly but as scientists we have a limited ability to predict how those changes will affect individual organisms. I see my research as a way to ask which changes will matter a great deal, and which we should be less concerned about.

Q: What’s next for you?
I'm currently looking for a post-doctoral fellowship.

Q: How has the University of Idaho helped prepare you for what you’re doing now and other adventures in your future?
The College of Science and specifically the biology department has provided a nurturing environment that encouraged me to develop my own ideas. And then from there faculty members and my advisor have provided me with enough advice that I was actually able to follow through with some of them.