In the Spotlight: Dr. Alex Moore

Dr. Alex Moore is an Assistant Professor at UBC, jointly appointed to the Faculty of Forestry and the Faculty of Science. Their research focuses on how predator-prey interactions impact the health and functioning of coastal wetland ecosystems and explores the role that cultural values and knowledge play in ecosystem restoration and conservation.

Tell us about yourself

Dr. Alex Moore

I moved to Vancouver this past summer to begin my UBC career as a professor serving the Dept. of Botany in the Faculty of Science and the Dept. of Forest and Conservation Sciences in the Faculty of Forestry.

Previously I was living on the east coast of the United States where I worked at Princeton University’s High Meadows Environmental Institute as a postdoctoral research associate.

Prior to my position at Princeton, I completed 3 years as a postdoctoral fellow through a program with the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. It was during this time that I began to really appreciate teaching and how I might be able to make a difference. The postdoctoral position resonated with me because it called for both research and teaching conservation biology to high school students in the museum’s after-school program. After reviewing the museum’s science curriculum for opportunities to incorporate diversity, equity, inclusion and justice narratives and activities, I was eager to take part.

Can you give us an overview of your research? What excited you about this work?

I try to ensure that my research calls for a more holistic appraisal of ecosystem health, which includes important ecological features as well as the consideration of how social and cultural elements impact those landscapes.

What drew me to this line of research was that it allowed me to not only explore coastal wetland ecosystems but also directly engage with communities that have been historically marginalized in STEM fields as well as conservation practice. It’s a significant undertaking that I believe starts with an acceptance of the reality that the knowledge I hold is inherently incomplete and a commitment to developing long-term relationships with the marginalized communities that should be uplifted by this work.

How can principles of inclusivity, equity, anti–racism and justice help us to better understand the work of conservation, restoration and knowledge?

The field of conservation has a history that is rooted in anti-Indigenous and anti-Black practices, including those based on The Doctrine of Discovery and the enforcement of laws that stripped Indigenous and Black communities of their access to land. In order to equitably engage in conservation and restoration practice today, it is essential to interrogate this history and the modern-day practices derived from it. One way to do this is by allowing people to reconnect with places. If we want to truly understand and protect ecosystems, we need to include the knowledge and values of the communities that have historically shaped and interacted with these environments.

What kind of topics/questions will the Moore Inclusive Conservation Lab address?

In our lab, we plan to conduct applied community and ecosystem ecology research and practice conservation at various scales while incorporating the values and needs of local communities directly into our work. Our lab will begin setting up in Fall 2023 and is already open for applications from students interested in being part of our group.

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