Rob Nipko – Secretary

Who are you? What do you do?
Hi! I’m Rob and I’m a PhD student in the Wildlife Habitat and Population Analysis (WHAPA) lab. I use data from non-invasive camera traps to study the population dynamics and movement patterns of jaguars in Belize, Central America. I’m particularly interested in understanding how these dynamics are influenced by environmental factors or human activities.

What’s your favorite aspect of your research?
There are so many things! Getting to work with a large, long-term (over 15 years!) data set is an incredible opportunity for a researcher, and has the potential to provide many key insights into jaguar ecology and conservation. Of course, it also doesn’t hurt to have a reason to make regular trips to the tropics throughout my graduate program! But really the best part is the incredible team of people it’s given me the opportunity to work with. From Belizean friends who help us with fieldwork and other logistics to the small army of undergrads and technicians who help us both in the field and with data processing, to fellow grad students and researchers, each person brings unique perspectives and experiences and makes our project richer because of it (and a lot of fun, too!

Your favorite Blacksburg activity!
There are so many great opportunities in the area for hiking and other outdoor recreation! I never manage to find as much time as I’d like for those sorts of activities, but even in the immediate Blacksburg/Christiansburg area, spots like Pandapas Pond, Mid County Park, or the Huckleberry Trail provide easy opportunities to get outside for some fresh air and some exercise. And, of course, there are even more incredible trails, etc, throughout the Blue Ridge that are still in fairly easy reach from here.

Departmental bio here.