James Klarevas-Irby - Master's student at University of Konstanz
When I was six years old, I wanted to be an entomologist. To this day, I have no idea why (or who even taught me the word), but I do know it was the first step in my stumbling path towards biology. By age ten, I had abandoned entomology altogether, and by thirteen I simply knew I was going to study birds one day (again, not that I could have told anyone why at the time.) That time, however, the notion stuck. By the time I was in college, I was a thoroughly average bird watcher with no idea about what it was about birds that I wanted to study, but with a volunteer position in the ornithological collection of the Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science. I was far from where thirteen-year-old me had imagined, but it was my foot in the door to an amazing community of researchers and conservationists. My own research ideas have since shifted away from the taxonomic and evolutionary research of those at the Museum who helped guide me in those formative years, but the time I spent there was invaluable. I’m now in the company of an amazing group of researchers, at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and at the University of Konstanz, who have continued to guide me in my pursuit of a fascination I couldn’t put to words as a child. I still can’t tell you the one thing that makes birds so enchanting to me, or what facets of their biology may occupy my thoughts in the years to come, but I know I’m getting closer with every step.