People

2020 – (top left-right) Dr. Tobin Hammer, Megan O’Conell, Dr. Sean Griffin, Sam Wilhelm, Dr. Caroline Strang, Dr. Harry Siviter; (bottom left-right) Dr. Shalene Jha, Dr. Felicity Muth, Laurel Treviño, Dr. Hollis Woodard, Camila Cortina, Elizabeth Lopez, Nick Ivers
2017 – Dr. Shalene Jha, Dr. Elinor Lichtenberg, Laurel Treviño, Nick Ivers, Kim Ballare, Sarah Cusser, Nate Pope, Megan O’Connell
2014 – Kim Ballare, Nate Pope, Alan Ritchie, Rebecca Ruppel, Sarah Cunningham, Dr. Hollis Woodard, Laurel Treviño, Dr. Antonio Castilla, Dr. Shalene Jha, Sarah Cusser, Esther Schenau, Megan O’Connell

Principal Investigator – Associate Professor – Shalene’s CV

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.

Graduate Students

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 communication and outreach, 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. nivers@utexas.edu

Camila Cortina is interested in how land-use affects pollinator population dynamics through the lenses of population and landscape genetics. She uses the knowledge she gains through her research to help inform others on how to make the environment a better place for all walks of life.

 Postdocs  

Dr. Sean Griffin is interested in ecological restoration, fire ecology, insect movement, and pollinator conservation across fragmented landscapes. In the Jha lab, he is examining how prescribed burning and other forms of restoration management affect plant and pollinator communities in prairie ecosystems. www.srgriffin.com 

Research Technician

Elizabeth Lopez, graduated from UT with a biology major. As a research technician, she works identifying and curating specimens that she collects for the prairie restoration project, and studies pollinator networks as an independent project.

Undergraduate Student 

Sam Wilhelm is a geography student interested in plant and pollinator conservation. He’s studying angiosperm response to controlled burns in the prairie restoration project.

Outreach Program Coordinator

Laurel Treviño does research and public engagement activities on native bees and plants. She produces educational material found in “About Native Bees” & “Landowners | Naturalists” & manages our website. She teaches a “Native Bees of Texas” workshop & works with organizations to communicate the importance of pollinators in ecosystems. Biology B.S., National University of Mexico; Botany & Wildland Resource Sciences M.S., The University of California at Berkeley

Former Lab Members … Graduated Students

Dr. Sarah Cusser is interested in how agricultural, industrial, or urban habitat disturbance, affects plant-pollinator communities and interactions. She’s interested in how restoration of disturbed habitats influence those interactions. She really likes bees and wishes there were more of them. She’s a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan State Univ. Kalamazoo, MI. sarah.cusser@gmail.com website

Dr. 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. She’s currently Post-doctoral Scholar at UC Santa Cruz. kim.ballare@gmail.com website

Dr. Nathaniel Pope did research on the influence of parasites on the dispersal ability, foraging behavior and reproductive success of bees.  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 has an inordinate fondness for statistical modeling, bee phylogeny, and taxonomy. npope@coa.edu

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

Former Postdocs 

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. As of 2020, she’s an Assistant Professor at the University of North Texas. website 

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

Dr. Hollis Woodard, NIFA postdoc studies nutritional ecology and conservation of native bees, focusing on effects of nutrient limitation on behavior & development in bumble bee life cycles. She’s 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 Vale Institute of Technology. website

Former Lab Managers: Rebecca Ruppel got her M.S. at Syracuse University studying patterns of inheritance in polyploid plants; she worked in Judie Bronstein’s lab, University of Arizona. Clare Glinka helped get our field & lab projects going! Her M.S. in Plant Biology from the University of Texas, Austin, focused on plant-microbe interactions.

       

Former Undergraduate Students:

  • Sarah Cunningham: plant & butterfly collection/ID
  • Karima Khimani: environmental effects on gene flow
  • Esther Schenau: bee genetics
  • Emily Wagner: genetics of communication
  • Mustafa Saifuddin: bee foraging thesis
  • Ashley Doucet: expert bee-hunter
  • Shannon Dang curated insects for the prairie restoration project
  • Apoorva Magadi augmented the pollen image library & pollen ID project
  • Alan Ritchie: agriculture pollinator communities & pollen ID project

      

             

External Collaborators & Fellow Bee Biologists

‘Bee Guru’  Dr. Jack Neff     is a key collaborator and our lab’s lifeline to understanding the bees of Texas and the southern US.  We’re lucky he runs the Central Texas Melittological Institute in Austin. He provides invaluable insight on natural history, ecological interactions, and critical evolutionary processes for Texas native bees.

Clare Glinka, Kelvey Merill, Brittany French, Sarah Cunningham, Rebecca Ruppel, Alan Ritchie – 2013 field
Dr. Antonio Castilla with his Panama crew in 2013
Working in the Brackenridge Field Lab (BFL) pollinator garden to save pollinators!

This is what we really looked like …