Alex Bajcz, Ph.D. 2016

Dr. Alex Bajcz earned a Ph.D. in EES from UMaine in 2016, advised by Dr. Frank Drummond. Prior to entering the EES graduate program, Alex earned both a B.S. in Environmental Science and an M.S. in Terrestrial Ecology from the University of Michigan.

For his Ph.D., Alex investigated the physiological consequences of reproductive effort and of flower removal for Maine wild blueberries. Briefly, how do blueberries “cope” with the costs of their flowers and fruits, and what happens when these costs are manipulated? After defending his thesis in October 2016, Alex went on to do a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with Dr. Nicolas Balster, assisting with a number of ongoing projects related to soil ecology, science education, and faculty development.

Currently, Alex is an Assistant Professor of Ecology and Environmental Science at Drew University in Madison, NJ, where his research focuses on the reproductive behavior of plants in the genus Rubus, including blackberries, black raspberries, dewberries, and wineberries. He teaches introductory and advanced courses in ecology and environmental science. Alex is grateful for his experience at UMaine, which he credits with helping him advance along his path to becoming a professor, which is something he is very grateful for. He also had a number of opportunities to present at conferences as a student at UMaine, which he says was “a great way to start building my ‘brand’ on a larger stage.” Follow Alex’s research and thoughts at his website and on Twitter (@Fruit_Ecology).

Alex shared a bit of advice for undergraduate students: “I would say be wary of anyone (including yourself) who tries to encourage you to take an easy, straightforward path through your course load in college. Your college experience can open a lot of doors for you and prepare you for a lot of different careers, but only if you make an effort to seek out diverse courses and to take courses that offer to teach you tangible, enduring skills. These include things like statistics, programming, plant/animal ID, lab methods, public communication, etc. Those are going to be the classes that actually advance you in the long run!”

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Alex summiting Norumbega Mt. in Acadia National Park, ME, and undergraduate student researchers in his wild blueberry experimental research plots in Maine.