Austin Yantes

Hello. This week’s featured scientist is Austin Yantes, a graduate student at the University of Minnesota studying restoration ecology. Austin is a part of the Montgomery Lab and in the Department of Forest Resources.

Austin’s interest in science happened unexpectedly during her freshman year of college when she met a researcher in need of help. Ever since then she had gotten her Master’s in Natural Resources Science & Management, and is now pursuing her Ph.D. and working with oak savanna restoration.


How did you get into the work that you do?

I stumbled into the world of ecological restoration almost entirely by chance. During my freshman year of college, I met a researcher in need of fieldwork help, and before I knew it I was out working in restored wetlands. I continued working on wetland restoration during my master’s and then made the transition to oak savanna restoration when an opportunity arose for my Ph.D.

What is one of your favorite aspects of your work? What is the most challenging?

The best part is spending all day outside and getting to interact with all the different kinds of plants and animals. However, that’s also the worst part. Sometimes the weather is miserable, and I’m getting attacked by thorny branches, ticks, and mosquitos.

If you could study any one topic or idea, and money/time/equipment/ were not an issue, what would you study?

I think I would move to Scotland or Canada and work on peatland restoration. Peatlands are incredibly important for trapping and storing carbon, which is what we need to do to mitigate climate change.

Outside of your scientific studies, what other subjects or interests do you enjoy?

I love science communication, trivia, traveling, and volleyball.

What is a fun fact that few people would guess about you?

A fun fact is that I’m obsessed with shopping secondhand. I shop for clothes, furniture, and other household items secondhand. I could talk your ear off about how important it is to reduce consumption and waste.

Header Photo by Jeremy Bezanger