Matthew Tryc is a Master’s student at New Mexico State University. His area of expertise includes plant and insect identification. Studying at NMSU has given him the opportunity to work with interesting plants and insects in the largest desert in North America: The Chihuahuan Desert. One of his favorite stories from his work includes the Creosote (Larrea tridentata) shrub and a professional bag shredder. To examine rates and success of self-pollination in the Creosote shrub he covers the flowing plant with a bag. This allows him to collect and identify insect visitors to the flowers as well as working on a protocol to determine the viability of the seeds. During one of his trips back to examine the bagged shrubs, Matthew was surprise to find one of the bags ripped off and torn to shreds nearby by a mysterious predator! Matthew is also working on investigating how pollinator networks in the desert change in response to precipitation driven changes in flowering plant composition.
Matthew’s dream experiment would be a long term succession project in different habitats to see how different aspects of the ecosystem arise (insect, plant, etc.) and how differing initial conditions can lead to diverse end states. In addition to this, he would utilize data science and machine learning to help predict aspects around this in order to aid in optimizing diversity in land restoration efforts.
Matthew first realized he wanted to be a scientist at the early age of 5. He was enamored with dinosaurs and his love for science continued to grow into a love for plants and insects. If he wasn’t a scientist he would be working in a greenhouse growing plants. A trusted mentor encouraged him never to be afraid to ask for help when needed.