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Karen Abbott is a theoretical ecologist in the Department of Biology at Case Western Reserve University. Her research interests are broad, with areas of emphasis in: (1) consequences of random variation in the processes that govern ecological populations and communities; (2) spatial synchrony and the spatial scaling of ecological patterns; and (3) the interplay between positive and negative feedbacks in ecological communities. Dr. Abbott’s work often straddles disciplinary boundaries between biology and math or physics, and integrates empirical observations with theory. She enjoys learning about new systems from her students and collaborators, and has published papers on plants, herbivores, pollinators, seaweed, birds, turtles, soil microbes, gut microbes, social mammals, and more, recognizing that good basic theory transcends taxonomic categories.
Dr. Abbott received B.S. degrees in Biology and Mathematics from Vanderbilt University, then got a Ph.D. in Ecology & Evolution from the University of Chicago. She worked at the University of Wisconsin as a postdoc and Iowa State University as an assistant professor before joining the faculty at CWRU. She was named an Early Career Fellow of the Ecological Society of America in 2015. Before joining the External Advisory Board at SESYNC, Dr. Abbott served as a member of the Scientific Review Committee.