Wiess School of Natural Sciences
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Biochemistry & Cell Biology
Earth Science
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Physics & Astronomy

Nick Rasmussen

Graduate Student
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Rasmussen largeNebraska native Nick Rasmussen is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

When Nick Rasmussen is not on campus doing research you will probably find him in the Davy Crockett National Forest. Rasmussen is interested in the importance of colonization history for the assembly of ecological communities. For this research, he studies the wildlife found in forest ponds, in particular insects and amphibians. He explains: “I perform experiments that manipulate the order in which these organisms colonize pond habitats as well as the amount of time between colonization events. These differences in colonization history can affect the dynamics of species interactions such as competition and predation. By studying community assembly processes, we can gain a better understanding of the patterns of species abundance and diversity that we see in nature as well as insight into the consequences for anthropogenic effects on nature such as climate change, invasive species, and habitat destruction.”

Volker Rudolf, assistant professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, speaks enthusiastically about Rasmussen's research. "It is really novel in the way it connects seasonal variation in the life-history of species to the dynamics and structure of natural communities. We know very little about this connection. Yet, understanding it, is particularly to link climate change to the structure of natural communities. Conducting this research is highly challenging, and Nick has to deal with a lot of variation and uncertainty, which requires ingenuity and hard work, but Nick makes it seem easy. He is an excellent natural historian and scientist, and I interact with him more like a colleague than a student."

Rasmussen says he was surprised by the high number of graduate students that make up the student population at Rice. What’s more, he was impressed by the concentration of outstanding young faculty in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Rasmussen finds his advisor, Volker Rudolf, to be a great source of inspiration for him and represents the type of scientist he would like to become—talented, hardworking, and always willing to take the time to mentor both undergraduate and graduate students.

When not doing research Rasmussen enjoys running, sampling the rich variety of unusual foods in Houston’s restaurants, and getting non-scientists excited about biology.