Mentor List

Below is the list (in alphabetical order by last name) 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).

Graduate students: If you would like to update or add to this page, please contact Kate LeCroy (

Updated February 2020.

Who: Allie Parisien,
What: I study nutrient cycling over the course of secondary succession. My fieldwork takes place out at Blandy Experimental Farm, where there are chronosequences of early (~15 year old), mid (~30 year old), and late (100+ year old) successional fields. I am hoping to discover how nitrogen cycling changes over the course of land abandonment and subsequent forest development at Blandy, and how this might play into the large scale land abandonment on the East Coast over the past few centuries as agriculture has moved westward. I have a number of research tasks I could use help with here in Charlottesville, depending on your interests and experience. These include: leaf sample processing and analysis, soil sample processing and analysis, and data analysis in Excel and R.
When: Fall, Spring semesters
How: Academic credit or volunteer

Who: Kelsey Huelsman,
What: I utilize hyperspectral remote sensing to detect invasive plant species. Images are collected at Blandy Experimental Farm in northwestern Virginia using a drone equipped with a spectroscopic imager. Collecting images is a small step in the process. I need undergraduate help with image processing, data manipulation and entry, and analysis. No prior experience is needed for image processing, but attention to detail is a must. If you are interested in the data analysis component of this project, some background in R is necessary.
When: Spring, Summer, or Fall 2020
How: Academic credits.

Who: Zoe Bergman,
What: My research is focused on how invasive species affect early successional forest ecosystems at Blandy Experimental Farm in Boyce, VA. In particular, I am looking at how Dahurian Buckthorn (Rhamnus davurica) influences soil conditions, light levels and allelopathy. My fieldwork takes place during the summer, but during the school year I will need help with some lab work, data entry/analysis, and possibly greenhouse work. The lab work entails analyzing soil samples and determining net nitrogen mineralization and nitrification. No experience in analyzing soils is necessary, I can teach you.
When: This is for the Fall 2019 semester
How: volunteer or for academic credits. 

Who: Melissa Hey,
What: In a nutshell, I am studying the effects of light pollution (LP) on ecosystem processes. Students who work with me have the choice of working on various projects according to their interests and talents. Currently I am most interested in mentoring students who are comfortable working with obtaining nitrogen data from preserved insect specimens or who are interested in understanding the ways in which LP affects plant growth. This work will be done in a lab throughout the academic year. The data we collect from these samples will help us to understand how LP impacts the flux of nutrients across the landscape via consumer movements, as well as LP effects on ANPP. 
When: Fall 2019-Spring 2020
How: Volunteer or academic credit based positions are available