The Jha Lab in 2017 (left to right) Dr. Shalene Jha, Elinor Lichtenberg, Laurel Treviño, Nick Ivers, Kim Ballare, Dr. Sarah Cusser, Nate Pope, Megan O’Connell

Below: 2014 (top left to bottom right) Kim Ballare, Nate Pope, Alan Ritchie, Rebecca Ruppel, Sarah Cunningham, Hollis Woodard, Laurel Treviño, Antonio Castilla, Shalene Jha, Sarah Cusser, Esther Schenau, Megan O’Connell


Principal Investigator, Associate Professor: 

Dr. Shalene Jha is a conservation biologist specialized in the fields of landscape genetics, population ecology, and foraging ecology.  Her work examines how landscape composition influences gene flow processes, foraging patterns, and population viability for plants and animals. She has experience in population genetics, movement modeling, GIS, and ecosystem service science, and she conducts her research internationally, across temperate and tropical ecosystems. You can view Shalene’s CV.

Outreach Program Coordinator:

Laurel Treviño does research and public engagement on plants and pollinators. She likes restoring native vegetation around her Hill Country eco-house. She has a B.S. in Biology – UNAM Mexico; and masters in Botany and Wildland Resource Sciences – UC Berkeley.


Dr. Elinor Lichtenberg is interested in pollinator conservation and how interactions among animals alter plant-animal interactions. Her research in the Jha lab focuses on pollinator community ecology under experimental restoration of prairie habitat. Elinor’s research employs field, lab and quantitative approaches. website

Graduate Students:

Nathaniel Pope is researching how parasites influence the dispersal ability, foraging behavior and reproductive success of bees; especially bumblebees.  More broadly, he is interested in how the tools of population genetics and landscape ecology can be used to infer patterns of movement and behavior in agro-ecological systems.  He also has an inordinate fondness for statistical modeling, and bee phylogeny and taxonomy.



Dr. Sarah Cusser is interested in how habitat disturbance, whether it be agricultural, industrial, or urban, affects pollinator communities and plant-pollinator interactions. She’s also interested in how efforts to restore degraded or disturbed habitats influence those interactions. She really likes bees, and wishes there were more of them. She obtained her Ph.D. in the spring of 2018! – website


Kim Ballare has interests in ecology and evolution, including conservation genetics, landscape ecology, and urban ecology. Her PhD research focuses on plant-pollinator interactions; how urban landscapes shape native bee communities and how they affect genetic population structure and local adaptation. – website




Megan O’Connell is interested in the effects of climate and land-use change on plant-pollinator dynamics and the genetic diversity of plant populations in tropical forests. She is active in science outreach and communication, and works on media projects that focus on scientific awareness at home and abroad – website


Nick Ivers is interested in conservation genetics and disease ecology. He is working to understand how land use affects population genetic structure and local variation in parasite abundance among native bees.



Emlyn Jane Resetarits is interested in how species interactions affect communities and ecosystems. She works on understanding how interspecific interactions (among protists and parasites; daphnia and snails) alter sociality and how scale influences species interactions and ecosystem functions.

Bee Guru:Jack-Bee-Course2012 Dr. Jack Neff is a key collaborator and our lab’s lifeline to understanding the bees of Texas and the southern US.  We are so lucky that Jack runs the Central Texas Melittological Institute out of Austin.  He provides invaluable insight on natural history, contemporary ecological interactions, and critical evolutionary processes for Texas native bees.

Former Lab Members 

Lab Managers: Clare Glinka helped get our field and lab projects going! She graduated with a Masters in Plant Biology from UT, studying plant-microbe interactions.

Rebecca Ruppel earned her M.S. from Syracuse University where she studied patterns of inheritance in polyploid plants. Before that, she worked in Judie Bronstein’s lab at University of Arizona.

Postdocs: Dr. Antonio Castilla works on ecology and evolution of plant-animal interactions, landscape genetics, plant mating systems and spatial ecology. website

Dr. Hollis Woodard did a NIFA postdoc at the Jha lab. She studies nutritional ecology and conservation of wild native bees with a focus on the effects of nutrient limitation on behavior and development across the bumble bee life cycle. Hollis is an assistant professor at the University of California, Riverside. website 


Visiting Scholar: Dr. Rodolfo Jaffe-Ribbi investigates the relationship between land use and bee population dynamics; population genomics of bees; the interphase between pre-copulatory and post-copulatory sexual selection in social insects; and beekeeping as a sustainable development tool. He’s a research scientist at the University of Sao Paolo and the Vale Institute of Technology – website

Former Undergraduate Students:

Alan Ritchie majored in Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior; with  interests in conservation biology, the impacts of human agricultural practices on pollinator communities, and the establishment of a sustainable farmer-pollinator relationship.

Sarah Cunningham majored in Environmental Sciences with an interest in conservation biology. She enjoys field work and plant and butterfly identification. (left)

Esther Schenau Worked with genetic components of bee samples while majoring in Computational Biology. She also works on art and insect photography.

Karima Khimani majored in biology. She enjoys learning about plant and insect genetics and how the environment influences gene flow. (left)

Ashley Doucet studied human bio/pre-med and genetics. She was an expert bee-hunter.

Mustafa Saifuddin majored in Biology/Plan II with an undergraduate thesis on bee foraging. (left)

Emily Wagner studied pre-med/human biology and genetics of communication.


2013 Field Crew (left to right) Clare Glinka, Kelvey Merill, Brittany French, Sarah Cunningham, Rebecca Ruppel, Alan Ritchie

2013 Panama crew

 Working in the BFL Pollinator Garden! Let’s save those pollinators!