Increasing demand for food, energy, and raw materials is driving rapid environmental change with profound impacts on biodiversity around the world. Xingli Giam, a new assistant professor in EEB, focuses on characterizing and mitigating anthropogenic impacts on the environment with a particular emphasis on tropical and freshwater ecosystems.
Giam combines fieldwork with the development and application of cutting-edge theoretical, statistical, and meta-analytic modeling tools to conduct interdisciplinary research that has real policy impact. Giam joined the EEB faculty in February and since then, he and his team have been developing research projects spanning different ecological and human systems.
These projects include uncovering climate change impacts on the unique fish fauna of Southern Appalachia, identifying hotspots of rare fishes to inform conservation priorities in the Upper Tennessee drainage, and examining the impacts of coal mining on aquatic biodiversity and local communities in two of the five largest producers of coal in the world – the United States and Indonesia.
In addition to developing his research program, Giam is excited to mentor undergraduate and graduate students at UT. Despite the increasing economic inequality in the United States and other countries, Giam still believes that education is the great equalizer in society.
“Growing up in a modest family, I benefitted from having excellent teachers and research mentors, and I want to pay it forward,” says Giam, who was first in his family to graduate high school. “I hope I can contribute by being a thoughtful teacher and mentor here at UT.”
Coming from a postdoctoral research position at the University of Washington, Giam is thrilled to join EEB because of its very special community.
“There is an amazing, warm, and inclusive group of faculty and graduate students whose research interests complement mine and with whom I can form exciting collaborations,” Giam says. “In the interview process, I was really impressed by the friendly, helpful, and efficient administrative staff. Since coming here, I have become even more of a fan.”