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Rosie and Riff Talk to Lief Sigren, a Wetland Ecologist

Dr. Lief Sigren

Dr. Sigren, what do you do?
I am a wetland ecologist. I study the release of methane gas from rice paddies, which are a type of wetland, since they are flooded during the growing season. We are interested in methane because it is a greenhouse gas, like carbon dioxide. This kind of gas traps heat in the atmosphere and adds to global warming. We would like to find ways to grow rice so that the fields give off little methane and produce as much food as possible. This is very important because the population of the Earth is growing.

How did you decide to do this kind of work?
I was a high school teacher for 10 years before I decided to go back to school and get my Ph.D. (a doctor's degree in science). I always have been interested in the environment, and I chose tis kind of research because it affects the whole world.

Have you always been interested in science?
Yes, I always enjoyed science. At first I thought I would study physics, but I decided that I liked biology better, especially ecology.

What do you like most about your work?
I like knowing that my work is important to the well-being of everyone, all over the world. I also find it fun! We work hard in the rice paddies and in the lab, but we have fun at the same time. here are many birds, frogs, snakes, and even alligators in our rice paddies.

Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?
Science can be fun! For your life's work, choose something that you really like doing. Then you will enjoy working as hard as you can.

My Health My World Explorations for Children and Adults are publications of the Center for Educational Outreach at Baylor College of Medicine, made possible by a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. For more information, contact Center for Educational Outreach, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX.
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