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Graduate Student Directory

Title Description
Cory Allred

Research Statement: My research interests are in using remote sensing data and quantitative modeling to inform wildlife management. My current research at Virginia Tech is using remote sensing acquired data to create predictive models for the occurrence of Bachman’s sparrow (Peucaea aestivalis) and other at-risk avian species with the hope of better informing their management (Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Hunter).

Robert Alonso

Research Interests: I am studying the predation and scavenging ecology of black bears, bobcats, and coyotes as well as potential impacts these carnivores may have on white-tailed deer populations in the western mountains of Virginia. Broadly my research interests include predator-prey dynamics, carnivore ecology, and wildlife-habitat interactions (Advisor: Kelly).

Mahatub Khan Badhon

Research Interests: My PhD research at Virginia Tech will focus on the social and ecological aspects of provisioning fisheries in the Great Lakes. Provisioning fisheries, a subset of recreational angling, fulfill the social needs and dietary needs of poor and vulnerable people, many of whom are new migrants to North American cities surrounding the Great Lakes. This research is expected to improve fisheries management by quantifying provisioning fisheries catches and their potential impacts that are currently unrecognized, and to help local policymakers understand the importance of provisioning fisheries on the lives of vulnerable citizens whose numbers are expected to increase in the future (Advisor: Castello).

Madison Betts

Research Interests: am broadly interested in fish behavior and interspecific interactions among stream fish communities. Currently, I am applying selfish-herd theory to a nest building fish, the bluehead chub, by studying the feeding and vigilance behaviors of the chub and its associated species (Advisor: Emmanuel Frimpong).

Gabriel Borba

Research Interest: I am interested in climate change effects on Amazon fish catch. My research focuses on how climate changes affect hydrological aspects, fish traits and future potential changes over river-floodplain fisheries along the Amazon River (Advisor: Dr. Leandro Castello).

Samantha Brooks

Research Interests: am investigating if there is a cleaning, mutualistic relationship between snapping turtles and freshwater minnows, whereby freshwater minnows graze on the algae found on the snapping turtles carapace and limb's for nourishment, while the snapping turtle's health benefits from this cleaning (Advisor: Frimpong).

Joe Buckwalter

Research Interests: Joe is studying the effects of land use and conservation practices on stream fish communities, as well as the effects of livestock grazing on Bog Turtle wetland habitat. His MS research focused on long-term changes in the distribution of New River fishes. Before coming to Virginia Tech, Joe worked as a Habitat Biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, mapping the distribution of freshwater fishes across Alaska (Advisor: Angermeier).

Thomas Bustamante

Research Interests: I am broadly interested in understanding how organisms respond to disturbance and environmental fluctuation to further our understanding of how organisms may respond to anthropogenic change. My current research at Virginia Tech investigates the adaptations that bluehead chub possess for nesting in hydrologically variable conditions, and the tradeoffs that are associated with these adaptations (Advisor: Frimpong).

Mikayla Call

Research Interests: Broadly, I am interested in coastal ecosystems and wildlife management. My research is part of the Long-Term Ecological Research program in the Virginia Coast Reserve, which is dedicated to understanding how short- and long-term drivers such as storms and sea-level rise impact ecosystem state changes on the Virginia coastal barrier system. I am studying the factors that drive American Oystercatcher and Piping Plover breeding success on Virginia’s barrier islands and how geomorphic changes on the islands affect their populations (Advisor: Karpanty).

Caitlin Carey

Research Interests: My research focuses on the conservation and management of imperiled freshwater mussels and fishes, with an emphasis on assessing species distributions and population dynamics, monitoring T&E and non-game species, evaluating population restoration techniques and sampling designs, and conservation genetics (Advisors: Hallerman and Ford).

Brian Case

Research Interests: I am interested in the influence of anthropogenic activity on the health of wildlife populations, specifically amphibian reproductive biology. I am studying the reproductive physiology and paternity of Eastern hellbender giant salamanders across a habitat quality gradient (Advisor: Hopkins).

Houston Chandler

Research Interests: I am interested in using science to inform on the ground conservation and management actions for rare reptiles and amphibians, particularly in the southeastern United States. My research focuses on filling in gaps in our natural history knowledge of rare species, long-term monitoring of important populations, and identifying current threats and how populations will respond to them. At Virginia Tech, my research will focus on the effects of climate change on the breeding activity of flatwoods salamanders and the breeding wetlands that they depend on. I will examine how viable the remaining populations are to future changes in climate (Advisor: Haas).

Hailey Conrad

Research interest: I am interested in the intersection between reproductive ecology, evolutionary ecology, fisheries, and conservation. I hope to expand on our understanding of the reproductive physiology and life history characteristics of commercially important fish species in a way that will improve the accuracy of fisheries models by looking at "the female perspective" of fish reproduction (Advisor: Dr. Kindsvater).

Brandon Crawford

Sharon Dorsey

Research Interests: My research project involves monitoring the piping plover population on Fire Island, NY as it responds to increased habitat from Hurricane Sandy to better understand demographic trends as it approaches carrying capacity and beyond (Advisor: Jim Fraser).

Victoria Engler

Research Statement: My research interests center around how forest management impacts salamanders. Certain land use activities such as timber harvesting are often criticized for their impact on wildlife, but timber is a valuable commodity and is the basis for many local economies. I would like to develop methods to mitigate the negative impacts of harvest on salamanders so that people can continue to extract valuable timber while also conserving salamanders (Advisors: Dr. Carola Haas, Dr. Nick Caruso).

Samuel Freeze

Research Interests: I am fascinated with the natural history, ecology, and behavior of bats. My research interests focus on understanding these mysterious and cryptic creatures, always with a link back to conservation and effective wildlife management (Advisor: Ford).

Holly Funkhouser

Research Statement: I am broadly interested in the conservation of threatened species with respect to climate change. In particular, I love working with herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians), because they are some of the most vulnerable species in future climate predictions. I am currently working with hellbenders, a giant salamander species, and studying how climate change may impact their egg viability (Advisor: Bill Hopkins).

Alissa Ganser

Research Interests: My current dissertation project is assessing the distribution, abundance, and genetic diversity of three species of freshwater mussels. These species are the Tennessee heelsplitter (Lasmigona holstonia), the Cumberland moccasinshell (Medionidus conradicus),and the Fluted kidneyshell (Ptychobranchus subtentus). The Fluted kidneyshell is currently listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the other two species are both candidates for listing. The goal of my research is to provide information on the need for listing the Tennessee heelsplitter and the Cumberland moccasinshell as endangered under the ESA, and to determine if our current management efforts for the Fluted kidneyshell are appropriate (Advisors: Hallerman & Jones).

Phillys Njambi Gichuru

Research Interests:Occupancy, density, and co-occurence of a number of predators and prey in Bale National Park in Ethiopia (Advisor: Kelly).

Lisley Gomes

Research Interests: I am broadly interested in the human dimensions of natural resource conservation. My current project at Virginia Tech examines the effects of urbanization and rural to urban migration on wildlife use in the Brazilian Amazon (advisor: Chaves).

Katie Gorman

Research Interests: For my research I will be documenting social dynamics, roosting habits, and climate/landscape effects on northern long-eared bat maternity colonies. Additionally, I will assist in the organization, curation, and digitization of the department's mammal specimen collection. (Advisor: Ford)

Rachael Green

Research Interests: My research focuses on the human dimensions of conservation on private lands. I'll be working with private landowners and citizen scientists in order to better understand the variables that drive private landowners’ perceptions of and engagement in conservation behaviors (Advisor: Dayer).

Mariana Castaneda Guzman

Research Interests: I am studying data-driven ecological niche modeling methods that can reconstruct environmental conditions where the occurrences of data-limited organisms are more likely to occur. My main interests revolved around using data analytics, including remote sensing and big data analysis, to optimize the decision-making process regarding ecosystem management and climate change adaptation. As well as programming and R statistics to capture patterns from ecological data and develop simulations to test “what-if” scenarios of landscape and climate change (advisor: Escobar).

Aida Bagheri Hamaneh

Research Interests: Broadly, I am interested in environmental justice, social-ecological systems, and policy implementation to support stewardship of the environment and human well-being. My project at Virginia Tech focuses on understanding factors that support Black, Asian, and Latine participation in outdoor recreation and environmental civic engagement (Advisor: Chaves).

Madison Harris

Research Interests:I have a vast interest in threatened and endangered species conservation, mostly pertaining to freshwater fish species. My research interests also include spatial ecology and how anthropogenic factors play a role in stream fish distributions (advisors: Angermeier & Frimpong).

Lindsay Hermanns

Research Interests: My interests revolve around wildlife conservation and management, specifically with in coastal ecosystems. My research explores the demography, breeding dispersal, and site fidelity of shorebirds, specifically Dunlin (Calidris alpina arcticola) within the Alaskan Arctic and Austral-Asian Flyway. I am also interested in using citizen science and outreach to connect people with their local ecosystems on a scientific level (Advisors: Karpanty, Catlin, Fraser).

Brogan Holcombe

Research Interests: I am interested in behavioral ecology and how animals utilize the landscape. My research will analyze the behavior of black bears in Virginia Appalachian Mountains, likely focusing on feeding ecology and species space use. Additionally, I hope to incorporate education through the mentoring of undergraduate students and public outreach (Advisor: Kelly).

Charlie Holguin

Research Interests: Overall, I'm interested in the variation of life-history traits of salamanders along elevational gradients. My current research aims to determine how environmental conditions at early life stages influence the growth of the Northern two-lined salamander (Advisor: Kindsvater).

Emma Hultin

Research Interests: My research is focused on the complex community level interactions of stream fishes. I study the reproductive phenology of bluehead chubs and their nest associates and am interested in the impacts of climate change on the phenology of spawning (Advisor: Frimpong).

Kelsey Jennings

Research Interests: My research revolves around the human dimensions of support and engagement with state agencies. I work with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' Nongame Wildlife Program (NWP) to determine who supports them and why, as well as how the NWP can support their constituents, especially those who are historically underrepresented in community science and outdoor recreation (Advisors: Dr. Ashley Dayer and Dr. Willandia Chaves).

Jeremy Jenrette

Research Interests: By combining citizen science, big data, and elasmobranch macroecology, my research attempts to structure large clouds of unstructured data. As part of the web application sharkPulse, my research focusses on developing shark population indices by using machine learning and data science routes. I am looking at social medias such as Instagram and how to extract viable shark sightings from them (Advisor: Ferretti).

Nicholas Kalen

Research Interests: My primary research interests are wildlife ecology and conservation with focus on mammals. I am currently studying bats in Virginia in response to the impacts of the disease white-nose syndrome and have specific interest in northern long-eared (Myotis septentrionalis) and eastern small-footed bats (Myotis leibii) (Advisor: Ford).

Amber Litterer

I am broadly interested in endangered species conservation and management. For my research, I will be looking at the post-white nose syndrome populations of bats on state and federal lands in Maryland. I am also interested in effective outreach and engagement that is beneficial to conservation efforts. (Advisor: Ford)

Sami Livingston

Research Interests: I am interested in the human dimensions of wildlife and conservation communications. My research addresses the threat of human disturbance to shorebirds along the Atlantic Flyway by implementing Community Based Social Marketing strategies (Advisor: Dr. Ashley Dayer).

Jonathan Low

Research statement: I am interested in all things fish and fisheries ecology and my current research is focused on characterizing early growth and maturation of Blueline Tilefish. We hope to improve future Blueline Tilefish stock assessments and examine the effects of using early life history information from other species on stock assessments (current Blueline Tilefish stock assessments use early life history information from similar species). Advisor: Yan Jiao

David Lugo

Research Interests: I am broadly interested in carnivore ecology and community dynamics . My research will be focused on predator-prey relationships and how land management might influence those populations in Belize, Central America (advisor: Kelly).

Darby McPhail

Research Interests: Hello, everyone, I am in Dr. Marcella Kelly’s lab. I have worked in Belize, Central America conducting field work since 2016 leading me to research the beautiful pumas in the area. I will focus this research on the population dynamics of pumas by estimating occupancy and puma density using spatially explicit modeling techniques from remote camera data and then linking these parameters to habitat features, prey, and potential competition with jaguars! (Advisor: Kelly)

Quentin Montgomery

Megan Moran

Research interests: Megan's research focuses on the effect of white-nose syndrome on the ecology and population genetics of the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) throughout the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic United States (Advisor: Ford).

Joshua Mouser

Research Interest: My research focuses on the ecology and conservation of stream ecosystems. Currently, I am studying the efficacy of agricultural conservation practices for protecting aquatic species via the reduction of sediment and nutrient loads to streams (Advisors: Angermeier & Ciparis).

Vance Nepomuceno

Research Interests: Continuing the long term study of Jaguars in Belize through the use of camera traps(Advisor: Kelly).

Robert Nipko

Research Interests: I study jaguars and other Neotropical felids in Central America. My research interests include carnivore ecology, parameter estimation, community ecology, and international conservation. I am also interested in creative pedagogy and helping students get the most out of their learning opportunities, both inside and outside the classroom (Advisor: Kelly).

Josephine Oakley

Research interests: My research interests are in understanding fish population dynamics. Specifically, I am interested in quantitatively modeling populations within the context of climate change to inform fisheries management.

Becca O'Brien

Research Interests: I am broadly interested in the human dimensions of conservation and using animal behavior research to inform conservation. My dissertation focuses on the social and ecological aspects of hellbender conservation (Advisors: Hopkins & Dayer).

Katie Ortiz

Research Interests: work with three freshwater mussel species in the controversial genus Villosa: V. ortmanni of the Green and Red River systems in Kentucky, and V. iris and V. vanuxemensis of the Upper Tennessee River basin. I will be using mitochondrial DNA, nuclear DNA, and morphological characteristics to answer questions about the taxonomic validity and population structure for these species. (Advisor: Hallerman & Jones).

Iman Pakzad

Luciana Pereia

Research Interests: I am studying the migration, genetic population structure, and growth of the catfish Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum in the Amazon Basin. My research interests are fish migration ecology, isotopic ecology, and population genetics. (Advisors: Leandro Castello and Eric Hallerman).

Braiden Quinlan

Research Interests: My research focuses on establishing new survey methods to evaluate population dynamics and herd demographics for the restored elk herd in southwest Virginia. My broader research interests include large mammal ecology, habitat use, population dynamics, and predator-prey interactions (Advisors: Ford & Cherry).

Chris Satter

Research Interests: My research interests are primarily focused on estimating population sizes of wild cats. These animals are usually very secretive by nature and often times very difficult to study. This type of research is being done though population modeling incorporating non-invasive camera-trapping techniques with a mark-recapture framework (Advisors: Kelly & Cherry).

Brendan Shea

Research Interests:My research interests generally center around the ecological role of sharks, particularly risk effects and predator-prey dynamics, and investigating the ecosystem consequences of removing large sharks from the ocean. I’m also very interested in large marine protected areas and evaluating their benefit to global shark populations. My research incorporates mechanistic, field-based experiments with big data and environmental synthesis approaches (Advisor: Dr. Ferretti).

Emily Sinkular

Research Statement: I am interested in the human dimensions of natural resources. My project at Virginia Tech focuses on understanding wildlife viewers and their relationships with state fish and wildlife agencies (Advisor: Dayer) .

Katherine Slack

Research Interests: Research I am broadly interested in how anthropogenic factors influence reptiles and amphibians as well as their physiological response. My current research is investigating the red blood cell stress response in Hellbenders in regards to seasonal variation and parasitic infection. (Advisor: Hopkins)

Michael St. Germain

Research Interests: My dissertation research focus is modeling local and statewide bat population distributions using remote sensing and geostatistical frameworks. I am also a full-time senior research associate at the college’s Conservation Management Institute where my research involves all manner of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems (Advisor: Ford).

Nicholas Sybertz

Research Interests: Research Interests: My research interests include disease ecology, molecular biology, genetics, and related fields. For my dissertation, I study tuberculosis, Campylobacter jejuni, and leptospirosis in banded mongoose (Mungos mungo) in the Chobe District of northern Botswana. My research consists of developing disease diagnostics, evaluating pathogen shedding kinetics, and assessing coinfection dynamics across space and time in the context of human, animal, and environmental health (Advisor: Alexander).

Hila Taylor

Research Interests: I'm interested in population and community ecology, especially urban wildlife like bats and mesopredators (Advisor: Ford).

Kaitlyn Theberge

Research interests: I am studying the effects of harvest and sexual selection on American lobster (Homarus americanus). My interests also generally include sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, stakeholder engagement, and environmental education (Advisor: Kindsvater).

Chad Wong

Research Statement: I am researching the American Horseshoe Crab population trends along the Atlantic Coast, specifically in the Delaware Bay to provide quantitative analysis for management of the species by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council. Along with annual population estimates, I hope to create better models for analyzing trends in the population, CPUE, and multi-species analysis. (Advisors: Eric Hallerman and Yan Jiao).

Marissa Guill

Research Interests: My broad interests involve land management and associated wildlife-habitat interactions regarding small mammals. Specifically, my current research will involve evaluating the efficacy of nest-boxes and remote cameras to monitor southeastern fox squirrel populations at MTC Fort Pickett and Big Woods Wildlife Management Area and Piney Grove Preservation in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain of Virginia (advisor: Ford).