2018 Recap for Simona

New Year’s Day is the time to look back at the year that just ended and do a little recap. 2018 was a pretty eventful year for me, so here’s a very condensed timeline!


I started off the year with a fun, exciting presentation of my research to the Audubon Chapter of Manatee County. I had a great time explaining my research on Wood Storks to such a passionate bird-lovers audience. I am looking forward to doing it again this year in Sun City Center!

Also in January, I was invited to give a demo about movement data handling and analyses for the MoveGroup, a student organization from the UF WEC Department attended by students interested in movement and spatial ecology.


I was invited to give a presentation and hands-on mini-workshop within the R Meetups series, a student-organized seminar series on various aspects of science applications in R.


I organized and ran the first-ever Carpentries workshop at an REC (specifically, FLREC), which marked the beginning of the UF Carpentries Club Off-Site Program targeting satellite campuses. Besides UF students from four different RECs, the workshop was attended by employees of state and federal agencies, such as USGS, USDA, and FWC, as well as by students from other universities in south Florida, including FIU and FAU. Read the full post about the workshop experience here.

I was also awarded a Graduate Student Scholarship from the Florida Wildlife Federation (read more here).

I attended the Florida The Wildlife Society 2018 Spring Meeting in Crystal River and won the best student presentation award. Find out more at this link.


My first paper on Wood Storks, my PhD study species, was published in the Caribbean Naturalist. The paper presents the first evidence of Wood Stork dispersal from the US to Mexico. Read the full story here.


Thanks to being sponsored by the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and the ESA Long-Term Studies Section, I attended the 2018 ESA Meeting in New Orleans. Besides presenting my research on Wood Stork migration, I was involved as a mentor in the SEEDS program and gave a presentation and live demo at the Environmental Data Initiative Data Help Desk. Here is a full account of my 2018 ESA experience.


Two of the most remarkable events of my 2018 happened in this month. First, I was awarded a $13,000 ForEverglades Graduate Scholarship by the Everglades Foundation for my doctoral research project, “Quantifying Effects of Hydrology on Movements and Fitness of Wood Storks”. This funding will support me in the final stages of my PhD, when I will be working on predictive models of Wood Stork population performance in response to scenarios of hydrological change. Being sponsored by the Foundation has the added value of exposing me to a network of Everglades experts in different disciplines, and it sparked important collaborations that will bear their fruits during 2019. I am extremely honored and proud of having the Everglades Foundation as a sponsor of my research.

Second, my paper “Movement Responses of Roe Deer to Hunting Risk” was published in the Journal of Wildlife Management. This paper includes work I carried out during my MS at the University of Rome La Sapienza and Edmund Mach Foundation. We compared movement rate of roe deer in and outside of protected areas and during and outside of the hunting season, and we demonstrated that roe deer respond to hunting pressure by slowing down their movements when exposed to it. This finding complements a larger body of literature on anti-predator responses of roe deer and related game species, which mostly focused on vigilance, flight, or habitat selection responses. You can find the full-text of the paper here.


Together with Joe Andreoli, Geraldine Klarenberg, Sergio Marconi, and Kristina Riemer, I was one of the instructors that co-taught the first-ever Carpentries GeoSpatial Workshop at UF, organized by Justin Millar. Being involved in piloting this curriculum was very exciting and the workshop was a success, as testified by the good feedback we received from students.

In October, the UF Carpentries Club also held their elections for the 2018-2019 academic year, and I am happy to have been re-elected as a Board Member. Looking forward to all the activities we’ll plan for 2019!


I presented an award-winning poster at the 2018 Florida Ornithological Society conference in Davie.


I received a UF/CALS James Davidson Graduate Travel Scholarship which will fund my participation to the Gordon Research Conference and Seminar in Movement Ecology of Animals in Lucca, Italy, in March 2019. What better way to end the year than with a look on to what the next will bring?