Assistant Unit Leader / Assistant Professor
I earned my PhD in Organismal Biology with the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany. I investigated the causes of within-species variation in behaviors including sleep, exploratory tendencies, boldness, and habitat use. There I became interested in why individuals experiencing the same environmental conditions may have different behavioral responses to things like predation risk, temperature anomalies, or competitive interactions. Such differences in behavioral responses often translate to differences in survival or reproduction in different ecological contexts, and can scale up to influence population and community dynamics.
Prior to joining the UT Coop Unit, I did research with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Yale University with Federal and NGO partners on using citizen science (like eBird and iNaturalist) and developing data integration techniques (how to statistically combine differently-structured datasets) to improve species distribution models over large spatial extents. Before that I worked with the USGS Coop Unit in Nebraska on developing methods to quantify the spatial ‘scales-of-effect’ of environmental predictors commonly used in spatial modeling. Identifying the spatial scales at which different landcover or environmental variables influence species abundance, occurrence, and richness can enable us to create ‘precision’ distribution models to inform habitat conservation and management decisions for species of interest.
Broadly, I am interested in how and why organisms use the environments they do, spatial variation in abundance and fitness within species, and how variation in spatial behavior composition influences population dynamics:
What types and amounts of habitat maximize population density?
How much variation in habitat preference do we see within and between populations?
How can we plan habitat management activities to maximize multiple focal species?
These questions are particularly important in light of environmental change, spatial conservation planning, and active habitat management to improve wildlife populations.
- 2015 PhD: Max Planck Institute for Ornithology; Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich. Organismal Biology (magna cum laude)
- 2011 MS: Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Ecology; Penn State University. Ecology. GPA: 3.94 /4
- 2009 BS: Penn State University. Wildlife and Fisheries Science; Minor: Biology. GPA: 3.63 /4