Ecology

Kent

Kelcy double-majored in Biology with a concentration in conservation and Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia and went on to complete a masters in coastal marine ecology and mangrove genetics with Jay Zieman and Howard Epstein at UVA. Her work focused on assessing genetic diversity in mangroves along the Gulf Coast, particularly noting range-expansion populations in comparison to historical, within-range populations, with possible future implications for habitat shifts in the black mangrove species along the Gulf.

Huelsman

I study supporting ecosystem services in three land-use types under different levels of human management at Blandy Experimental Farm. The purpose of my research is to analyze properties, processes, and functions of these land-use types to evaluate the relative levels of supporting services they provide. By then considering the cost of human management in each land-use type, the overall benefits of the ecosystem services can be compared to improve land-use decision-making.

Hogan

A graduate of the University of Notre Dame with a BS in Environmental Science, Sara is now pursuing a Masters degree focusing on oyster restoration. She is using LiDAR data to map reefs in the intertidal region of the Virginia Coast Reserve to understand reefs’ location, elevation, and correlations with the physical environment. She is also examining how to best design restored oyster reefs by investigating how reefs can both optimize habitat and shoreline protection.

Hey

Melissa received her B.S. from the College of William & Mary in Virginia in 2015. As an undergraduate, her thesis focused on how intraspecific competition and herbivory affected growth and secondary chemical defenses in common milkweed. Common milkweed serves as a significant food source for the monarch butterfly, and her research sought to delve into drivers of plant-insect interactions. In 2015 she joined the research team at Blandy Experimental Farm as a doctoral student studying ecology. Her research interests include invasion ecology and plant-insect interactions.

Flester

Jessica earned a B.S. in Environmental Sciences as well as a B.A. in Global Studies with a concentration in Global Environments and Sustainability from the University of Virginia. During her undergraduate career, Jessica’s research was focused broadly on the response of coastal wetlands and coastal communities to rising sea-levels. As a graduate student pursuing her M.S. in Ecology, Jessica is using Trimble GPS survey equipment and GIS data to quantify mainland salt-marsh response to sea-level rise at the Virginia Coast Reserve LTER (VCR-LTER).

Fantasia

Christina Fantasia earned a BS in Biology at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA, where she concentrated in Environmental Science. She is now working toward obtaining her PhD in Environmental Sciences (Ecology) with Dr. Steve Macko, studying ocean acidification and its effects on bivalves and crustaceans.

Buelo

Cal received a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in Biology and Mathematics. After graduating, he worked for Dr. Michael Pace as a research technician studying early warnings of ecological regime shifts in freshwater systems in Virginia and Michigan. Cal is pursuing a PhD in the Pace Lab and is interested in topics related to aquatic ecosystem services.

Besterman

Alice completed her B.S. in Environmental Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is broadly interested in community and ecosystem ecology, particularly in coastal habitats. Alice works out of the VCR LTER studying various impacts of the non-native macroalgae, Gracilaria vermiculophylla. She is interested in how non-trophic interactions between Gracilaria and other organisms on intertidal mudflats lead to ecosystem level changes in pathogen loads, predator foraging, and microbenthic algae production.

Berger

Amelie earned a BS degree in environmental geoscience from Texas A&M University. Her dissertation research now focuses on the ecology of seagrass meadows in the shallow coastal bays of the VCR-LTER. She is using the eddy covariance technique to quantify whole-system metabolism in a seagrass meadow during its recovery from a die-off event that occurred in summer 2015. This die-off presents a unique opportunity to study the recovery and resilience of seagrass ecosystems, which has implications for future restoration efforts.

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