Phone: 306-585-4255 or 306-585-4562
An interview with Mark Brigham (published in International Innovation).
I am interested in the behaviour and ecology of free-living animals under natural conditions. My own work focuses on the roosting and feeding ecology of temperate insect eating bats and nocturnal insectivorous birds called goatsuckers. I am also keen to understand how these animals employ heterothermy (e.g., torpor) to cope with food shortages. My students and I study how these organisms cope with environmental constraints (e.g., cold, drought, loss of habitat). This includes addressing questions about prey selection, prey detection abilities, the influence of moonlight, habitat selection and the nature of torpor use. There are obvious natural comparisons between goatsuckers and bats. Students in my lab are currently working on diverse projects including: the use of torpor and hibernation by Australian owlet nightjars and Common Nighthawks and the use of torpor and social behaviour by tree-and crevice roosting bats.
I strongly believe that students should gain more than just a formal education during the course of their degree. Most of the graduate students working in my lab are from outside of Saskatchewan and bring a mix of personalities and interests to the lab. Weekly lab meetings offer a forum for discussing a diverse range of topics ranging from experimental design to the philosophy of science. I strongly encourage students to become involved in community Science activities. We regularly visit classrooms to talk about our research and the animals we study. Not only is this good outreach, it also enhances oral communication abilities. I encourage students to give talks at professional meetings to both hone their communication skills, but also to learn about aspects of how Science is done and communicated. I pride myself in trying to balance the various demands on a scientists' time, including trying to conduct quality research, teach well, provide community service; all while maintaining a sense of humor.