Islamiat Abidemi Raji

High IMPACT Biology Postdoctoral Fellow
Islamiat Abidemi Raji

Dr. Islamiat Abidemi Raji joined the Bonier Lab in the Department of Biology at Queen’s University in October 2021 as a Postdoctoral Fellow. Fondly called Abi, she brings a wealth of knowledge and a diverse academic background, spanning forestry and wildlife management (BSc), conservation biology (MSc), and ecological sciences (PhD), to the lab and the Queen’s community. Her research interests encompass various topics, including plant and animal interactions (Frugivore-Seed dispersal), landscape and urban ecology, the human dimension of conservation, climate change, and citizen science projects.

In her role as a Postdoc, Abi is currently coordinating the Global Urban Bird Surveys project in the Bonier Lab, collaborating with local experts and community members using an innovative community science approach to survey birds in five different countries: Brazil, Canada, France, Kenya, and Senegal. The project aims to develop a standardized method to survey birds globally, providing a comprehensive understanding of the impact of urbanization on bird diversity. This initiative seeks to promote coexistence between humans and wildlife while addressing geographical, methodological, and spatial biases and research gaps in previous ecological studies. Abi recently presented a method and preliminary results poster titled: “The Global Urban Bird Survey: An Innovative Community Science Approach” at the Society for Integrative Biology (SICB) conference held in Seattle, Washington, from January 2nd to 6th, 2024. "I am thrilled with the engagement our poster received; many researchers visited and showed interest in our research," shared Abi. She expressed gratitude to the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (SGSPA) and her supervisor, Dr. Fran Bonier, for approving her travel grants, which made it possible for her to attend the conference. Abi added, “SICB was the largest conference I have attended, featuring over 1900 scientific presentations, 26 workshops, 11 symposia, and seven plenaries. The conference provided an excellent opportunity to connect with researchers from around the world and stay updated in my field.”

Beyond research, Abi is dedicated to mentoring the next generation of ecologists, particularly those from underrepresented groups. Actively involved in mentoring youth, she strives to instill a sense of curiosity and responsibility for the natural world. Her efforts extend into the community, where she works to foster engagement in conservation initiatives. To further develop her teaching skills and prepare for academic positions, Abi participated in the graduate credit course SGS 902: Teaching & Learning in Higher Education, organized by the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at Queen's University for graduate and postdoctoral scholars who aspire to become skilled, thoughtful, and confident post-secondary teachers. “In this course, I was trained on how to facilitate learning using the learner-centered approach,” said Abi. As a requirement to complete this course, she also conducted a teaching practicum and engaged in microteaching activities, participating in conversations that explored important elements of inclusion, diversity, and anti-racist practices in university classrooms.

Abi was one of six postdoctoral researchers recently recognized as an IMPACT Fellow by the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA). NPA, a charitable and educational nonprofit organization, works to improve the postdoctoral experience by supporting a culture of inclusive connection. The recognition as an IMPACT Fellow not only underscores her dedication to advancing scientific knowledge but also marks a milestone as the first IMPACT fellow to be selected by the NPA at a Canadian university.

The IMPACT Fellowship Program, launched in 2021, has Abi as part of the 3rd cohort. This 16-month program provides exceptional early-career researchers from underrepresented communities with opportunities for professional and personal achievement. Fellows work with experts in their field, network with peers, and make mentoring connections to build professional relationships. Fellows use the knowledge, tools, and resources gained to create and implement an IMPACT project that benefits their communities. These projects are discussed, and further professional training and education take place during the NPA and IMPACT annual summit scheduled for March 14-16, 2024, in Seattle, WA, USA. Abi’s IMPACT Project aims to amplify the voices and experiences of international scholars pursuing education and research opportunities in foreign countries, showcasing their journeys, challenges, and triumphs. The project emphasizes the value of cultural diversity in academia and promotes inclusivity.

Dr. Islamiat Abidemi Raji's journey as a Postdoctoral Fellow embodies the spirit of scientific exploration, growth, determination, and community engagement. Her multifaceted research pursuits, ranging from her previous research projects to her postdoctoral research, the Global Urban Bird Surveys project, and her commitment to advancing knowledge and fostering inclusivity in academia through the IMPACT fellowship showcase her dedication and impact in the field.