Sitting in my office in Durham after an afternoon of wading deep into data analysis, I often find myself daydreaming about fieldwork in COMATSA, a community-managed protected area in northeastern Madagascar. I reminisce about evenings sipping ranon’apango (Malagasy burnt rice tea), roasting plantains over the campfire after a sweaty day hard at work, and joking with the team over dinner. While I love field research for the science, many other aspects of camp life are what bring me the greatest joy. Undoubtedly, my favorite part of research is being part of a team.
In COMATSA, I am privileged to work in a large, multidisciplinary field team with colleagues who have become dear friends. We are composed of students and researchers from the local forest management association, University of Antananarivo, Centre Universitaire Régional de la SAVA, expert consultants and guides from nearby Marojejy National Park, Duke Lemur Center, and Duke University.
Due to the interdisciplinary nature of our work and the large size of our team (~20 people), we conduct research in several subteams:
Everyone on the team contributes a tremendous amount of expertise. We all work together to ask interesting questions, collect data, and think critically about ecological problems. Importantly, we also share laughter, support one another through challenges, and celebrate successes. Research is a team effort, and I am grateful for the community we have built together.