Field work is an inherently place-based activity; regardless of research topic, the researcher becomes implicated in that place and its human histories and dynamics. We work in places with a very real and recent (/ongoing) legacy of colonial activity, and scientists played active roles in perpetuating harm. We are committed to working with communities to address questions of interest to them and to provide meaningful opportunities for training from a foundation of trust.

We recognize that conservation in the past explicitly excluded people from “wilderness” and instead, we use our research to re-contextualize humans as part of nature (as they have been for millennia), and celebrate the biodiversity of human landscapes (e.g, cities).

Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of students and community members. We actively work to build local museum collections rather than removing specimens from their context and repatriate material when possible.

Land Acknowledgement

Middlebury College sits on land which has served as a site of meeting and exchange among indigenous peoples since time immemorial. The Western Abenaki are the traditional caretakers of these Vermont lands and waters, which they call Ndakinna, or “homeland.” We remember their connection to this region and the hardships they continue to endure. We give thanks for the opportunity to share in the bounty of this place and to protect it.

For more information, please see this page about Middlebury’s continuing engagement with the Western Abenaki. We place this Land Acknowledgement here as a first step in engagement.

Our Values & Actions

As we build our lab, new members will collaboratively develop a compact of conduct and values to replace this text. But for now, we will be clear: we believe that Black Lives Matter and have laid out steps for action (and accountability) with the Biology Department. We take diversity, equity, and inclusion seriously and believe that actions speak louder than words; hence, we conduct community engaged research, co-produce knowledge (rather than promote a savior complex) and use our resources to train, support, and encourage members of underrepresented groups in STEM (see our work with high school students and in the Caribbean), while also stepping back to listen and learn.

From Chaudhary & Berhe 2020, PLoS Computational Biology

We participate in Unlearning Racism in the Geosciences (URGE) and encourage all lab members regardless of discipline to review and engage with their curriculum.

We strive to practice the Ten Simple Rules for Building an Antiracist Lab. We recognize the different risks for our team in the field and follow the guidelines of Demery & Pipkin 2020.

If you have an idea for how we can better engage, articulate, or take action, please don’t hesitate to reach out.


We are a community of scholars, investigators, explorers, and communicators. We are an interdisciplinary lab group, which means that sometimes it may take more effort to understand each other’s work, and students may need to seek outside expertise. Students are expected to be independent and take charge of their own learning, but should know they have the support of our community behind them. Conservation problems in the real world cannot be addressed with a single discipline or tool – they require collaboration in all things, from abstract to applied research, to engagement with the public and policy. We apply this same philosophy in the lab.

Commitment: We typically do not accept students unless they can commit to a full year of work – exceptions may include specific outreach initiatives or writing projects. Students hoping to pursue summer research will need to begin the prior spring.

Funding: We expect students to pursue funding opportunities where relevant and available, particularly those available through Middlebury College.

Advising: Students entering the HEDGE lab will work with Professor Mychajliw to develop an Individual Development Plan (IDP) that centers student goals and addresses ways that both mentor and mentee can work to meet those goals, while also fitting within lab research and engagement priorities. Click here to learn about IDPs.

See this helpful post on what to bring to a meeting with your advisor.

Community Engagement: students are expected to share the results of their research with relevant communities through science communication endeavors, such as public lectures, creating informational materials, contributing to a museum exhibit, K-12 classroom visits, and/or developing a grey literature report.

Field Work: student expecting to participate in international field work will require at least one semester of work in the lab prior to their intended field season. This is to ensure you have time to establish a relationship with a local partner, collect all necessary permits, and develop appropriate communication channels with the PI. Students expecting to work in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean must demonstrate basic proficiency in Spanish, including scientific terminology. No exceptions! This is for your safety and out of respect for our local colleagues.

Authorship: In general, we feel that authorship is commensurate with contributions, whether from a postdoctoral researcher or a high school student. We follow the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) guidelines on authorship:

  1. Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
  2. Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
  3. Final approval of the version to be published; AND
  4. Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

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