Member profile - Yann Kemper

One of the more delightful aspects of working on the Australasian Fishes project is that through the iNaturalist software, one can meet interesting people from all over the world. Occasionally you come across someone who is extremely impressive in their focus and dedication to natural science, and that is the case with the project member highlighted in this article, Yann Kemper (in the photo, above, with Scott Loarie during a visit to the iNaturalist offices with his younger brother). Yann’s name should be familiar to many in the project, he is listed as Number 6 on the project Leader Board of the 1,691 people who are helping with the identification of fish for our project. I can recall numerous times loading observations into the project, late at night, only to find Yann’s identifications waiting for me in the morning. His name, as well as @maractwin, aka Mark Rosenstein, (https://www.inaturalist.org/posts/27243-member-profile-mark-rosenstein#summary ) often greets participants when they first open their software in the morning to check identifications for recent observations. They are often the first of the day. Yann’s dedication and stellar performance is even more noteworthy when we learn that Yann is actually a high school student, living in the very land-locked city of Cincinnati, Ohio in the United States!
When I first learned about Yann, I immediately recalled the practice of several news magazines which run annual features called “Young Leaders of the Future.” In these stories, the editors highlight young individuals, who by their actions, contributions and dedication to a worthwhile cause, demonstrate the qualities which will likely make them future leaders in their discipline. A quick examination of Yann’s work indicates he is worthy of nomination for the title of “Future Leader in the Natural Sciences”. Just through our project alone, we can easily see how dedicated he is supporting citizen science. For Australasian Fishes he has recorded 8,547 identifications. To further support his “Future Leader” status, Yann is also participating in 42 other iNaturalist projects, to which he has contributed a total of 111,669 identifications. If that was not enough, he also Curates a project on iNat called Moths of the World (https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/moths-of-the-world)
It is easy to wonder what drives this high school student to be so deeply engaged in the study of nature in general and Australasian Fishes in particular? Yann says, “I've shown interest in your project due to my love of Australasian fish. My extensive interest in the natural world stems from the fact that I enjoy finding things I've never seen before. I divide my time across nature and my other hobbies.”
Yann’s interested in nature is also supported by his interest in photography. Not having visited Australia or even living near an ocean, he has not been in a position to add to our project’s observations. He notes, “I don't collect fish images often, seeing as I don't live nearby any seas or oceans. I have snorkel dived in the Florida Keys, although this was prior to purchasing my Olympus TG-5.”
Although far from an ocean, Yann’s interest in nature still has a local outlet. He says, “As for non-aquatic subjects, I usually hang around in a specific spot and sift through dirt to find smaller organisms.” This looking for local, smaller organisms has resulted in a total of 9,097 observations for iNat, including taxa such as birds, plants, insects, and, of course, moths. He is serious about his photography, saying, “I'm a high-school student, typically I don't have time to take photographs, save for the weekend. During Summer and vacations, I have ample time for photography. I visit Germany every few years to see my family, while there, I'm often on the lookout for birds, I also visit California often, which is where I take most of my fish photographs. Outside of iNaturalist, I'm interested in watching foreign films, and archiving websites with Archive Team. I use a Nikon P900 as well as an Olympus TG-5, although I have used the latter less since my purchase of the former. I only have a simple light-ring on my TG-5 that subsides for aquatic photography.”
Like many of the project leaders, Yann follows other leaders on iNaturalist. He currently follows 96 people, across numerous projects and scientific disciplines. It is interesting to note Yann follows Ken-ichi Ueda, one of the software’s founders, see our article at: (https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/australasian-fishes/journal/archives/2019/05 ) and who currently co-directs iNaturalist (See: kueda's Profile · https://www.inaturalist.org/people/1). Ken-ichi has recoded over 40,000 observations and has helped with over 92,000 identifications. You can tell a future leader by the people they associate with in both the real and cyber-naturalist sphere. Yann points out, “I like to follow people as a token of appreciation. I'll typically follow someone when I like their photography or work in the natural field.”
While I greatly appreciate the work Yann does for me and the project, I find it amazing that his knowledge of antipodean fish is so vast, especially for someone who lives 15,000 kilometres from Australia, in a landlocked part of the US. Yann explains, “I developed my skills in species identification through hours of reading old scientific documents and papers, as well as emailing different professors and meeting with some in person. One trick for identification I've grown fond of is comparing species to identification keys (this works particularly well on insects). Sci-Hub may be of use to you if you can't find an article anywhere. I think what specifically first interested me in iNaturalist, and by extension nature, was that my photographs could be used in research data and field guides. I kind of branched out and just overall became interested in Nature from there. My moth project is mostly a collection project. I noticed there wasn't any easy method to sort moth observations from butterfly observations, so I decided to create that project to fill that gap. I guess I could see a lepidopterologist using some of that data to show population systemics, for example, maybe showing the amount of moth observations in a particular area.”
So where does a future leader in Natural Science go after high school? Yann responds, “I'd say my career plans are currently either an entomologist, preferably a hemipterologist (leafhoppers, planthoppers, etc) or an ichthyologist. Ichthyology would be my preferred field, but I don't live anywhere near an ocean and freshwater fish are not my specialty. Ohio State University or the University of Cincinnati would likely be ideal, but a California University or perhaps a foreign one may be an option as well.”
Yann reflects on some of the challenges of taking the path of natural sciences. He notes, “Frankly, it's quite hard to find young people my age who share my interests in my area. I go birdwatching every other Sunday with a group of (mostly) senior citizens, but a few younger college students occasionally join in. Most of my photography adventures are in and around my neighbourhood as we have a large back forest and field. I do make many other observations in and around Cincinnati as well, though.” He reminds us that nature photography can be challenging as even more so, in a climate which experiences cold winters. He recalls, “I'd say my worst nature photography incident would probably be around January, at Burnet Woods (a local urban park). I'm rather skinny, and on top of that, I didn't exactly dress for the frigid weather, and my hands were going numb from the cold. Despite that, I did preserve and took plenty of photographs.”
Many project participants have been attracted to Australasian Fishes, as it has been an excellent learning tool to self-teach fish identification. This is an advantage of iNaturalist, as if you have an interest in any taxa of the living environment, there is probably a project which can act as a classroom for the ID of life on the planet. Yann reminds us, “I discovered Australasian Fishes around the time I started getting active on iNaturalist. My first category of taxa which I often identified and got to know was fishes, and I enjoyed focusing on fish of the Greater Caribbean and Australia.
Trying to identify future leaders is not easy, and there are many examples where news magazines, got it wrong, Their nominees were famous one day, then never heard from again. In natural sciences, future leadership is extremely important. It is easy to see that many of the current discipline leaders, in the research and academic communities, are, to be polite, getting older. There is a clear need for the next wave of scientific leaders to arrive on the scene, as the current crop heads toward retirement. It is motivating to find people like Yann in our project, who are willing to assist those with less experience and share their observation and experience with the rest of the iNat community. This is excellent training for a future leader and I see a future where such skills and dedication will benefit projects like ours and science in general.
This journal post was written by Australasian Fishes member, Harry Rosenthal.
Lähettänyt markmcg markmcg, 14. tammikuuta 2021 02:34

Kommentit

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Very well done bio! Thanks for writing it up, Harry.

Lähettänyt kemper 14 päivää sitten (Lippu)
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My pleasure Yann, we are VERY grateful for your assistance and support for our project.

Lähettänyt harryrosenthal 14 päivää sitten (Lippu)
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I really appreciate your involvement in iNaturalist, Yann. Best of luck in your future studies!

Lähettänyt desertnaturalist 13 päivää sitten (Lippu)
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Incredible! Through iNaturalist I have met many amazing passionate people. So inspiring

Lähettänyt sharejosie 13 päivää sitten (Lippu)
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Great write-up about a fellow Cincinnatian!

Lähettänyt mangoverde 13 päivää sitten (Lippu)
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Impressive! Keep it up, Yann!

Lähettänyt quick3beers 13 päivää sitten (Lippu)
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Great bio! 👏

Lähettänyt biniek-io 7 päivää sitten (Lippu)

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