The work of CT and his colleagues has really had an impact. They take data based on non-invasive environmental DNA surveys and produce results with tangible uses in the real world. This is a noticeable difference from the more traditional academic experience, where the ‘real world’ doesn’t feel so close. Having an open and collaborative team also helps, especially because the NatureMetrics team shares CT’s passion. With such a dedicated team, it’s no wonder that they go above and beyond to produce high-quality work at increasingly higher throughput rates.
It takes time to develop and finetune these methodologies, but the team reap the benefits of watching their work spread to projects in a range of ecosystems and geographical regions. The environmental DNA methods are typically difficult to explain, and their benefits and limitations sometimes appear to be quite abstract. I asked CT what he wishes everybody knew about environmental DNA surveys, and he pinpointed two main things. Firstly, we have the potential to revolutionise how biodiversity is monitored if we can properly understand these DNA molecules in the environment. At the same time, his second call to action is that we should all appreciate that there are inherent biases and limitations of using this tool, much like with traditional biodiversity monitoring methods. He thinks that with increased use, people are beginning to appreciate the power of environmental DNA methods, and are beginning to notice how it stacks up against conventional techniques.
Outside of work, CT is an avid climber, confessing that he may not be particularly good but he’s very keen. He expressed an interest in climbing El Capitan or at least visiting the world-famous rock formation. It’s an impressive granite wall in Yosemite National Park which reaches heights of almost 3,000 ft. Looking at his work ethic, it’s no surprise that CT also bears such ambitious qualities in his personal life. We’ll all be looking out for (the first?) environmental DNA samples to be taken atop El Capitan- if it happens then you heard it here first!