Graduate Mentor List

Mentors and projects!
Below is the list of graduate student mentors and a brief description of their research and opportunities to participate.  Please see the mentoring program page for details about the program format and goals.  This list is updated at the beginning of each semester (sometimes more frequently). If you are interested in a position, you can contact the graduate student directly, providing them with a brief introduction and a resume. You may also reach out to if you have any questions.
Graduate students: If you would like to update or add to this page, please contact Elise Heffernan, Willow Lovecky, or Will Loner at
Revisited January 2024

Who: Elise Heffernan,
1. This project is focused on primary research and seeks to complement my own boreal forest treeline research in the Arctic. A student would choose a topic (if possibly related to another major/minor, great!) and conduct primary research, create an annotated bibliography and write a report on the topic throughout the term. The goal is to get a broader, multidisciplinary understanding of my research area. The student will gain experience with primary source research and writing, and will have rather wide discretion in their chosen topics. I am particularly seeking students who are interested in social-environmental interactions.
Openings: multiple

Who: Stephanie Petrovick ( and Kim Union (
1. My opportunity is for two weeks of field work in July (15th-26th), but an extension for further work is also possible. The sampling is for my research project called DRAGNet which examines the effects of disturbance and nutrient addition on an early successional grassland. Work will be at Blandy Experimental Farm, with data collection in the week of July 15th and treatment application in the week of July 22nd. The sampling in the first week will consist of activities such as biomass sampling, PAR measurements, percent cover measurements, and others. The second week will consist of spreading fertilizer for the nutrient addition treatments as well as mowing and tilling the plots for the disturbance treatment with help from Blandy personnel. 
2. My project is an expansion on DragNet, as well as some further exploration in/around Blandy in terrestrial ecosystem functioning. I'm looking for help in the field the week of July 29th-August 2nd, and depending on availability/weather, continuation through August 9th . Activities may include soil respiration monitoring, help with handheld ASD field spectrometer measurements, biomass sampling around Blandy, and sorting between categorical variables (not down to species type), and expanded soil sampling/light processing. As the summer gets closer, a more concrete idea of the methods will be finalized, and provided to anyone interested.
Extra Info: These are volunteer positions, but can fulfill the research experience requirements of the conservation capstone/concentration, and could be counted towards fall credit hours. For both projects housing is provided, but students will need to bring clothes, food, and other supplies for their stay.
Openings: 1-2 students
When: Summer 2024
How: Volunteer or Fall Academic Credit


Who: Amanda Armstrong (
What: Allometry simulations using a Forest Model
The student will gain experience running a cutting edge forest model to simulate a forest in Virginia. We will compare how well the model does simulating trees with parameters measured in the field and taken from the literature as compared to parameters measured by ground-based lidar. The student will be running the model (python) and interpreting results (R). No coding experience necessary though at least exposure to coding preferred.
Forest Model Research
This research-based experience will involve a little bit of detective work. We will be developing a database of global forest model parameters, combing through literature and books to piece together in one place model parameterizations from around the globe. No modeling experience necessary.
Openings: 1-2 students
When: Spring 2023
How: Academic credit.


Who:  Mirella Shaban,
What:  The student will conduct research on literature relevant to near ground meteorology and permafrost dynamics in the Arctic. The student will be responsible for sourcing literature, writing brief literature reviews on the compiled sources, and presenting their findings bi-weekly. The student is expected to self pace and keep an organized bibliography of their sources and extracted information.
Openings: 1-2 students
When: Fall 2023 and Spring 2024
How: Academic credit and Volunteer

Who:  Kelsey Schoenemann,
I have LOTS of video data of bumble bee activity from hives that were located in different habitats. This project involves transcribing video data into spreadsheets and potentially using video analysis (i.e., scene change detection algorithms) to streamline the process. This work can happen remotely or in person.
Openings: 1-2 students
When: Fall 2023 and Spring 2024
How: Academic credit and Volunteer