The Jha Lab in 2017, from left to right: Shalene Jha, Elinor Lichtenberg, Laurel Treviño, Nick Ivers, Kim Ballare, Sarah Cusser, Nate Pope, Megan O’Connell, Michael Joseph



The lab group in 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 and Megan O’Connell

Principle Investigator, Associate Professor: 

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 find Shalene’s CV here

Outreach Program Coordinator:

Laurel Treviño does research and outreach. She enjoys educating folks on plants & pollinators and the food, medicine and building materials they provide. She also likes restoring native vegetation around her Hill Country ecohouse. (Biology – UNAM Mexico; Botany & Wildland Resource Sciences – UC Berkeley.)


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. Check out Elinor’s 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 agroecological systems.  He also has an inordinate fondness for statistical modeling, and bee phylogeny and taxonomy. email:



Sarah Cusser is interested in how habitat disturbance, whether it be agricultural, industrial, or urban, affects pollinator communities and plant-pollinator interactions. She is also interested in how efforts to restore degraded or disturbed habitats influence those interactions. More generally: she really likes bees, and wishes there were more of them. Check out Sarah’s  website



Kim Ballare has broad interests in ecology and evolution, including conservation genetics, landscape ecology, and urban ecology. Her PhD research focuses on how urban landscapes shape native bee communities and plant-pollinator interactions, and how they affect bee genetic population structure and local adaptation. email:; 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 also interested in science outreach and communication, and is working on science media projects that focus on scientific awareness at home and abroad. Check out Megan’s website


Bee Guru:Jack-Bee-Course2012

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 was the first lab manager who helped us get all our field and lab projects going! Clare graduated with a Masters in Plant Biology from UT, studying plant-microbe interactions.

Rebecca Ruppel earned an M.S. in 2010 from Syracuse University where she studied patterns of inheritance in polyploid plants. Before that, she worked in Judie Bronstein’s lab at the University of Arizona.




Antonio Castilla is broadly interested in the ecology and evolution of plant-animal interactions, landscape genetics, plant mating systems and spatial ecology. Check out Antonio’s website


S. Hollis Woodard did a NIFA postdoc at the Jha lab. She studies the 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 now an assistant professor at the University of California, Riverside. Check out Hollis’s website 



Visiting Scholar: Rodolfo Jaffe-Ribbi is currently investigating 1) the relationship between land use and bee population dynamics, 2) population genomics of bees, 3) the interphase between pre-copulatory and post-copulatory sexual selection in social insects, and 4) beekeeping as a sustainable development too. Rodolfo is now a research scientist at the University of Sao Paolo and the Vale Institute of Technology – website

Previous 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 especially enjoys field work and plant and butterfly identification. (left photo)


Esther Schenau majored in Computational Biology. She enjoys working with the genetic components of the bee samples. She also works on her art portfolio and photographing insects.


Karima Khimani majored in biology in the College of Natural Science. She enjoys working with plant and insect genetics and how the environment influences gene flow.





Ashley Doucet studied human bio/pre-med with a focus in genetics.  She was an expert bee-hunter during the field season.


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



Emily Wagner studied pre-med human biology with main interests in animal communication and its genetic basis.



2013 Field crew – Clare Glinka, Kelvey Merill, Brittany French, Sarah Cunningham, Rebecca Ruppel, Alan Ritchie

the Panama crew – 2013

working in the BFL Pollinator Garden! let’s save those pollinators!