Priscila Powell – The Applied Ecologist


In this latest installation of Journal of Applied Ecology’s Meet the Editor series, we’re joined by Associate Editor mentee Priscila Powell.

1. What are you currently working on and why is it important?

I am working as a researcher at CONICET (Argentina’s main public research institution), studying the ecology of invasive alien species and co-developing management actions to tackle the negative impacts of invasions in native ecosystems. In Argentina, we face many issues with biological invasions, and challenges are higher than in other countries due to the low availability of economic resources. Nevertheless, there is a solid individual willingness from different stakeholders to conserve and restore native ecosystems. I am happy to be one of the connecting pieces between the ecology and ongoing management experiences.

2. What’s your favourite species and why?

Trichocereus atacamensis in Amaicha del Valle, Tucumán, Argentina © Priscila Powell

What a difficult question! I admire long-lived plants from deserts and high mountains. They had only one chance to move in their lives, and then they spent centuries growing and surviving under extreme conditions. I always try to figure out all the different scenes from history in which those plants have been!

For example, Trichocereus atacamensis is a cactus that can live more than 400 years in Andean deserts. It has been part of ancient local human communities, the European colonisers, and now I am studying it! 

3. Why did you decide to apply for the Associate Editor mentoring scheme?

It is a fantastic opportunity to learn, connect, and contribute to the ‘great leagues’ where applied science is growing and spreading. Participating in ‘building’ science from a different position is precious.

4. If you could wake up tomorrow with a new skill, what would it be?

Definitely, I would like to sing well! Now, despite the lyrics, it is impossible to tell what song is it when I try to sing a song. Also, it would be fantastic to play with my voice, transmitting different feelings by just playing with tones.

5. Outside of academia, what do you enjoy getting up to? Do you have any hobbies?

Yes, I love to walk in nature. I enjoy a peaceful walk in the mountains, inside a forest, or on a windy coast, where all my senses are awake, and I can taste the different colours, scents, and sounds of the wilderness. I also love horses. Any bad moment can be forgotten if I am on a horse’s back!

Priscila Powell visiting the Antofagasta Volcano in the Andes, Catamarca, Argentina © Priscila Powell

6. When you were growing up what did you want to be? Does this relate to your career in ecology now at all?

Absolutely, yes! When I was a child, I wanted a job that allowed me to spend most of my time in nature and also to travel a lot.  My dad was a palaeontologist, and I used to participate in some of his campaigns, so I knew at the early stages of my life that biology could be a good option. A little later, I added to my aims that I wanted to protect the nature I loved. Of course, after graduation, I had a ‘disappointment stage’ when I discovered that most science is needed, but sometimes it is a little far in time from direct actions. Now I feel more comfortable with the topics that I am abording as a Researcher. 

You can learn more about our Associate Editor mentees here, as well as view our whole Editorial Board here.

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