ARBRE Interview — Yan-Shih Lin

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Yan-Shih Lin

Postdoctoral researcher

24 June 2016








Yan-Shih Lin is an ecophysiologist and a modeler. After spending almost a decade conducting research in Australia, she moved to France earlier this year to begin working with the Joint Research Unit for Forest Ecology and Ecophysiology (EEF) at the INRA Nancy-Lorraine Center in Champenoux. She is currently executing the INTERDROUGHT project, funded by LabEx ARBRE and conducted in partnership with researchers from INRA (Nancy), the University of Lorraine and WSL in Switzerland.

Yan-Shih Lin was kind enough to talk with us recently about her science and her path as a researcher.



Where are you from originally? And where do you live currently?

I was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan. Before moving to Nancy where I am currently based, I lived in Sydney, Australia and in Auckland, New Zealand for about nine years.
Tell us about your science — what is your specific focus at the moment and why is it important?

I am interested in understanding how terrestrial ecosystem may respond to climate change, in particular the responses to elevated temperature and drought. I use both ecophysiological experimental methods and modeling approaches to study this topic at leaf, whole tree and ecosystem scales. Given that the global temperature is projected to rise and the drought events are predicted to be more frequent in many parts of the world, I think to understand how our ecosystem may respond to these changes is one of the many pressing issues at the moment.

Take us through your career path and what brought you here specifically to work at INRA with the INTERDROUGHT project and the EEF team?

I completed my undergrad and master studies at National Taiwan University in Taiwan, where I had a mentor who always encourages his mentees to pursue their academic career overseas. With his encouragement and help, I spent three months at Oregon State University in the United States during my masters studies and that was when I had my first taste of studying abroad and decided to continue on this path.

After I completed my masters degree, I worked as a research assistant in the Research Centre for Environmental Changes at Academia Sinica, the most prestigious national academy in Taiwan, where I had the privilege of meeting many excellent scientists from around the world. This reinforced my determination to pursue a higher degree overseas.

18 months after worked at the Academia Sinica, I was very fortunate to receive a full scholarship with three years of stipends for my PhD studies working in the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at the Western Sydney University in Australia. During my PhD work, I was trained as an ecophysiologist, supervised by Prof David Ellsworth and I focused on studying how Eucalyptus trees, the most dominated tree genus in Australia, may respond to elevated temperature and CO2. During that time, I met Dr. Erwin Dreyer and Dr. Daniel Epron from INRA and that was when I was made aware of the existence of the INRA Nancy-Lorraine center and the numerous high quality research outputs from this institute.

After completing my PhD degree, I jointed the Climate and Forest Ecosystem Modelling group at the Macquarie University led by Prof Belinda Medlyn. Since then I have had the privilege to work closely with many exceptional modelers, and have since worked on progressing my programming and analytical skills using both Python and R.

In 2015, I entered into a new stage of my life—motherhood. I gave birth to my lovely baby girl and enjoyed the joy of being a full-time mother for 10 months before I resumed my research career at INRA-Nancy. The post working with the INTERDROUGHT project was made available at the perfect time for me and my family, so I applied for it, got it, and we moved to France.

Could you comment on the idea of collaboration in science and how that has played a role in your own work?

From my personal experience, I believe collaboration in science is the essential ingredient to a successful project and here is an example:

During my time in the Climate and Forest Ecosystem Modelling group at the Macquarie University, my research focus was about a global synthesis study on the optimal stomatal behavior  (i.e. the optimal theory on how plants trade water for carbon at the leaf scale) so that we can improve our ability to model carbon and water cycling at both regional and global scales. This work was only possible through the collective efforts from scientists around the world. In fact, we persuaded more than 50 scientists to participate in this project and to make their data available to the greater scientific community.

Collaboration in science allows us to focus on using our time and resources to make progress in science instead of reinventing the wheel.


Tell us more about the INTERDROUGHT Project..

The main goal of the INTERDROUGHT project is to exam the effect of species interactions/competitions on drought response in both a mesocosms controlled environment and in a field experiment settings. In particular, we are trying to disentangle the underlying mechanisms which can be attributed to the differing drought responses between the growth conditions where the species interactions/competitions are present or absent. To do this, we employed a range of ecophysiological measurement techniques, including leaf gas exchange measurements, carbon and water isotope labeling and plant allometric measurements, to help us answer key questions relevant to the underlying mechanisms.

This project is being carried out collaboratively between INRA Nancy-Lorraine and our Swiss partner, the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), which has allowed us to share and exchange our expertise and resources.


Lastly, what advice would you give to young people just launching their careers in science?

Set your goal and try your best to equip yourself with skills that could open the doors and paths to your goal. Opportunities are only there for those who are prepared.



Learn more about Yan-Shih Lin and her research ..


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