Mentor List

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).

Graduate students: If you would like to update or add to this page, please contact Clare Rodenberg or Elise Heffernan at

Updated January 2021.

URMP is seeking an intern for the Spring 2021 academic semester. This is the first year we are accepting interns for the program as we are expanding our capabilities to reach a more diverse student body. Our main goal is to implement a brand new mentoring partnership program between undergraduate and graduate students. It would be an exciting time for a student seeking experience in advertising, data analysis, and program development. Responsibilities of the intern would include, but not be limited to:
  • developing a monthly newsletter
  • adding content to social media
  • synthesizing demographic data collected from surveys
  • assisting in the creation of a resource list for incoming and early-year undergraduate students
  • contributing to discussions about novel approaches to mentoring within the departments
  • updating advertisements as needed
The total amount of hours expected each week is 2-3. Academic credit is available. Please email: if you are interested in applying.

Who: Elise Heffernan,

What: 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. 

When: Spring 2021

How: Academic Credits

Who: Santiago Munevar,

What: The goal of my project is to understand how grounding lines, the region where ice transitions from a grounded ice sheet to a floating ice shelf, respond to subglacial topography. The use of bathymetric datasets across the Antarctic continental shelf will help us determine the influence that ice-marginal landforms have on the retreat of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. The work will consist of data preparation for the calculation of bed roughness analyses. The student will be introduced to key glaciology concepts and will gain skills in a suite of GIS software (ArcMap, QGIS) and/or programming languages (R, Matlab) depending on how involved the student wants to be.

When: Fall 2020

How: Academic Credits

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: Summer and Fall 2021
How: Academic credit or volunteer

Who: Morgan (Shelby) Tassone,
What: Arctic vegetation plays a critical role in global climate feedbacks through its influence on carbon cycling, albedo, and evapotranspiration. Over recent decades, Arctic primary productivity has been impacted by climate change through changes in aboveground biomass, phenology, and community composition. Despite a net increase in primary productivity (i.e., greening) between 1982 and 2018, the direction and magnitude of Arctic trends exhibit spatiotemporal heterogeneity across multiple scales (e.g., local to continental, inter-annual to decadal). Arctic productivity likely varies spatially and temporally due to interactions with climatic, geologic, biological, and anthropogenic drivers. A synthesis of recent (1999-2019) advances on the response of Arctic productivity to these drivers is required to provide a comprehensive overview of Arctic productivity dynamics and to highlight areas for further inquiry. At this point in time, I am looking for an undergraduate to help me compile research for a synthesis that explores the patterns of greening and browning; the project would include reviewing scientific papers and organizing findings.
When: Spring and Summer 2021
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 2020 semester
How: volunteer or for academic credits.