Graduate Students

Amanda with vultureAmanda Holland is a Masters student in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia. Her research interests are relatively broad and include avian ecology, landscape ecology, scavenger ecology, ecotoxicology, and management of at-risk, threatened, and endangered species. She specialized in avian ecology and conservation while earning a B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Science at Oregon State University where she was involved in research on California Condors. Her current research is focused on the spatial ecology of black and turkey vultures in the southeastern United States and is using GPS transmitters to elucidate fine-scale movement and resource selection patterns for these species. When not spending time studying her favorite group of animals (vultures!), she enjoys birding, road trips, and brewing beer at home.

DaveDave Keiter is a Masters student in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia. His thesis research will compare methods of estimating wild pig population size with indices of relative abundance to determine the most cost-effective manner of monitoring this invasive species. He graduated in 2013 from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) with a B.S. in Wildlife Science. At SUNY-ESF he conducted research on small mammals in Alaska and Russia for his honors thesis, and has since been involved with projects studying the nutritional ecology of black-tailed deer in Washington State and population dynamics northern bobwhite quail in Texas. His research interests focus on the population dynamics and ecological interactions of invasive and reintroduced species. In his spare time, he enjoys backpacking, birding, brewing, and board games.

ChrisChris Leaphart graduated from the University of South Carolina-Aiken in May 2014 with a B.S. in Biology. While at USCA, Chris spent the majority of his time working in Dr. Derek Zelmer’s parasitology lab, where he researched the effects of Haematoloechus infection on the functional response of libellulid odonate naiads, as well as other studies using digenean parasites. His research interests include parasitology and the ecology and management of various wildlife and avian species. During summer 2014 Chris joined the Beasley lab as a research technician examining the natural attenuation of radiocesium (137Cs) levels in American coots (Fulica americana) collected from the Pond B reservoir at the Savannah River Site, as well as parasite burdens in wildlife inhabiting contaminated environments. Chris is currently a Masters student in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources where he is studying the biomagnification of radiocesium in aquatic biota.

Ricki with red-ruffed lemursRicki Oldenkamp is a Masters student in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia. As an undergraduate student, Ricki worked on a diverse array of research projects while earning her B.S. in Biology at Northern Michigan University. These studies included work on the transmission of botulism to birds through an invasive fish species in Lake Michigan, behavioral observations of orangutans in Borneo, cognitive testing of Marine bomb and narcotics detection dogs, and the hormonal link between the brain and stomach for obesity in a mouse model. Through this undergraduate research Ricki published a paper on using a novel technique to estimate the amount of herbivory ants prevent on emerging Bracken fern fiddleheads and is a co-author on a cognitive study of how group size affects social cognition in lemurs. At UGA her research will focus on the effects of anthropogenic stressors on wildlife health. Specifically, she will evaluate contaminant burdens in game species and quantify risk to hunters from consuming contaminated wildlife. When not immersed in research she rock climbs, ice climbs (back in Michigan!), and loves to long distance backpack.

AnsleyAnsley Silva graduated from the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia in 2009. Much of her time as an undergraduate was spent as an exchange student at the Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Brazil. During that time she researched some of the impacts of hydropower dams in the Doce River Basin of Minas Gerais. Now as a Masters student under Dr. Jim Beasley and Dr. Kamal Gandhi in Warnell, Ansley's current research focuses on the effects that water and soil contamination have on the invertebrate decomposer community, and whether diversity of this community changes as a function of distance to contamination sites or proximity to riparian habitat. Her interests revolve around anthropogenic influences on the environment. Outside of research, she spends her time backpacking and teaching yoga.

KelseyKelsey Turner, a Georgia native, graduated from the University of Georgia with a BSFR in Wildlife in 2013. As a Masters student at UGA under Drs. Jim Beasley and Robert Warren, Kelsey’s research is focused on understanding the composition of scavenger communities in the southeastern U.S. In particular, her studies focus on how carcass size, habitat type, and carnivore community composition interact to influence the flow of nutrients within terrestrial food webs. Kelsey also is involved in studies assessing scavenger community composition in the Pacific Islands. Her research interests are broad but include carnivore ecology and management, carnivore food habits, and animal behavior and interactions.

Sarah with coyoteSarah Webster is a Masters student in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia. She received degrees in Wildlife Science and Biology from Virginia Tech in 2012. While at Virginia Tech, she researched the population dynamics and activity patterns of jaguars (Panthera onca) under Dr. Marcella Kelly. She also worked on projects focusing on the population ecology and management of coyotes in several counties in southwestern Virginia. Her research interests include applied population ecology of carnivores and the impacts of environmental stressors (both anthropogenic and natural) on wildlife populations. Her Master's thesis will focus on bait efficacy for population surveys of mesocarnivores in South Carolina as well as the impacts of environmental contaminants on carnivore occupancy and abundance within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Sarah also is involved in studies assessing wolf spatial ecology at Chernobyl.

Undergraduate Students

LaurenLauren Laatsch is an undergraduate student pursuing a B.S.F.R. in Wildlife Sciences from the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia. She is from Wisconsin and spent two years at the University of Michigan, where she took a conservation biology class that inspired her to study wildlife. While at Michigan, she worked on an ecological restoration project that aimed to improve several areas along the Lake Michigan shoreline through collaboration with local governments and community members. This summer, she is an REU intern studying scavenging ecology in Dr. Beasley’s lab and will continue on to complete her senior thesis through spring 2016. Her research is focused on under-standing the fates of vulture and nestling bird (on the ground vs. in the nest) carcasses. In her free time, she enjoys horseback riding, hiking, kayaking, and baking.

Research Technicians

EJ with sedated bobcatEJ Borchert joined the Beasley lab in January 2015 as a research technician. He graduated from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) in 2013 with a B.S. in Conservation Biology. Before coming to SREL, EJ worked for the New York Department of Environmental Conservation aiding with American marten and fisher research on site occupancy and small scale foraging ecology. Additionally, he worked for Oklahoma State University studying the potential impacts of anthropogenic structures on Lesser Prairie-Chicken ecology and survival and habitat use of Bobwhite and Scaled Quail chicks. EJ is involved with several projects at SREL including wild pig translocation, contaminant exposure in waterfowl, and coyote spatial ecology.

Beckie with sedated cougarBeckie Juarez is a research technician at SREL in Dr. Beasley’s lab. Born and raised in southern California, she received her B.S. in Biological Sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2006. She received her Master’s degree at South Dakota State University in 2014, where she studied the effects of harvest on the genetic structure of the Black Hills cougar population and compared methods for estimating population size. Her research interests include carnivore ecology and management, population dynamics and conservation genetics. In her spare time she enjoys running, yoga, reading, and hiking.


Mike with sharkMike Byrne joined the Beasley lab as a postdoc in 2014 where he is involved in a number of studies including research on the spatial ecology of gray wolves at Chernobyl, use of fine-scale spatial data to elucidate movement behavior of vultures, and the ecology and management of wild pigs. Mike received a BS in Biology from Worcester State College in 2003, a MS in Biological Sciences from the University of Rhode Island in 2007, and a Ph.D. in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from Louisiana State University 2011. After completing his Ph.D. Mike worked as a postdoc under Dr. Mike Chamberlain in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia from 2012-2014 before joining the Beasley lab. Mike’s research interests include behavioral ecology, animal movement ecology, wildlife habitat use and selection, and population ecology. He is particularly interested in understanding how the behavior of individuals gives rise to, and is itself influenced by, larger population and landscape-level processes of species distribution and evolution. Much of his research involves the use of telemetry to gather data on individuals, and he has a keen interest in the study of animal movement (both long and short term), as it naturally weaves together the above-mentioned research areas. He primarily works on vertebrate species in a variety of terrestrial and marine environments; from forests to open-ocean pelagic ecosystems.

Josh with sedated cougarJosh Smith is a postdoc in the Beasley lab where his primary focus is on research into indirect transfer of toxicants to non-target organisms through scavenging pathways on Guam. Josh received his BS in Biology from East Tennessee State University in 2000, a MS in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from South Dakota State University in 2007, and a PhD in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from South Dakota State University in 2014. His research interests broadly lie in understanding population dynamics and how changes in spatial, temporal, biological and environmental processes influence their fluctuations. Much of his previous research has focused on carnivore ecology, the influence of landscape characteristics on species distribution, estimating population level vital rates (primarily size and survival), mark-recapture analysis, anthropogenic influences on species habitat selection, scavenging ecology, and the influence of predation and disease as a regulatory mechanism on prey populations.

Visiting Researchers

Felipe in the fieldFelipe Hernandez grew up in Santiago, Chile. He earned his bachelor of Veterinary Medicine degree and title of DVM from the Universidad de Chile. He graduated from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile with a Master in Natural Resources. With a specialization in Wildlife Conservation and Management, he was studying the effect of anthropogenic landscape factors in the behavior and occupancy patterns of the vulnerable guiña (Leopardus guigna), an endemic species of the South American temperate rainforest. Currently, Felipe is a 2nd year Ph.D. student in Interdisciplinary Ecology at the School of Natural Resources-Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Department-University of Florida under the mentorship of Dr. Samantha Wisely. His main research interest is to understand the influence of anthropogenic disturbances in the health status of terrestrial wildlife, particularly mammals. In collaboration with Dr. Jim Beasley of SREL, Felipe is researching the effects of heavy metal and radioactive contaminants in the physiological parameters and microbiota of raccoons and wild pig populations inhabiting contaminated and reference sites in SRS. Nowadays, Felipe is starting a research project focused in to explore the exposure/infection status of pseudorabies in wild pig populations and its potential transmission risk to native carnivores in South-Central Florida. He expects to continue the fruitful collaborative work with Dr. Beasley´s research lab during the course of this new and exciting project.

Lab Alumni

Kevin Eckert (technician)
Ellen Bledsoe (technician)
Zach Ross (technician)
Jeff Peterson (undergraduate student, 2014)
Zak Smith (technician)
Lincoln Oliver (technician)