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 Kate LeCroy (

Updated November 2020.

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: Fall 2020

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: 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; they are then analyzed to differentiate invasive plant species from surrounding plants. However, the process of differentiating invasive plants from their surroundings in northwestern Virginia may look very different from differentiating them in other areas where they grow. I am looking for a student to help me comb through the literature and more closely examine the entire range of these invasive plants, what other plants grow there, and what mechanisms may differentiate them effectively across their entire range.
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.