Graduate Students

EJ with sedated bobcatEJ Borchert is a Masters student in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia. His research interests include furbearer ecology and management, landscape ecology, ecotoxicology, wildlife habitat relationships, and wildlife health. 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, he worked on projects focusing on site occupancy and fine scale foraging ecology of American martens, the potential impacts of anthropogenic structures on Lesser Prairie-Chickens, and the survival and habitat use of juvenile Bobwhite and Scaled Quail. His graduate research will focus on the sub-lethal effects of chronic contaminant exposure in beaver, river otter, and raccoons inhabiting contaminated wetlands.

Chris holding bear cubChristopher Cleveland is a first year PhD student co-advised by Dr. Beasley and Dr. Michael Yabsley (Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources/Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study). He is also a research coordinator for the Yabsley lab and handles molecular diagnostics for the Wildlife Disease Study (SCWDS). He completed a BS in ecology and evolutionary biology at UNC-Asheville (2010) and his MS in Veterinary and Biomedical Science at UGA (2015). Prior to working at SCWDS, Chris was a USGS technician in Montana working on a Grizzly bear demography study, and spent a number of field seasons in Arizona participating in an Elk-Passerine study. His research interests span population dynamics and the relationships between social structure, management actions, and disease transmission.

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.

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

Kevin holding i'iwiHailing from Rochester, New York, Kevin Eckert graduated from SUNY-ESF in 2012 with a B.S. in Wildlife Science. Kevin worked as a Golden-winged Warbler Field Technician for the University of Tennessee monitoring nesting warblers to help better understand their population dynamics. Kevin also worked as a Hawaii Forest Bird Field Technician. As part of this demographic study, Kevin handled individuals of eight different avian species and collected data used to help determine population size and migration habits of each species down into the “avian malaria zone” of the Big Island of Hawaii. Kevin is currently working with Dave Keiter in Dr. Beasley’s lab as a field technician researching the population ecology of wild pigs.

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.

Phillip with coyotePhillip Lyons graduated in 2013 with a B.S. in Biology from Rhodes College, where he studied sexual dimorphism in striped newts and social behavior of gray wolves through the Memphis Zoo. Before coming to SREL, Phillip worked on a variety of carnivore-based projects, including capture and monitoring of Canada lynx in Alaska, as well as studies on mountain lions, bobcats, and coyotes in Los Angeles. Additionally, he has participated in monitoring of wolf and livestock interactions in Washington, fisher and marten populations in the Sierra Nevada, and whitetail neonate predation and survival in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. His research interests include the spatial ecology of mammals in fragmented landscapes, predator-prey relationships, and human–wildlife conflict mitigation. Phillip joined the Beasley lab as a research technician in January 2016 where he will be working on a variety of projects on wild pigs and carnivores, including the occupancy and relative abundance of wildlife within the Fukushima Exclusion Zone in Japan.


Peter with wild pigPeter Schlichting is a post-doc in the Beasley Lab and will be focusing on various aspects of wild pig ecology. He received his Ph.D. from Texas Tech University in 2014 in Wildlife Sciences studying the ecology and genetic structure of wild pigs in West Texas. Peter did his masters work at Stony Brook University in Anthropology, and his bachelors at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He was a post-doctoral researcher and instructor at Texas Tech University before starting at SREL. Peter will be continuing research on wild pigs at SREL and beyond including their spatial ecology, response to management actions, reproductive ecology, and survival. In addition, he is interested in invasive species, animal behavior, spatial ecology, population ecology, and landscape genetics.

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

Amanda Holland (MS student, 2013-2015)
Kelsey Turner (MS student, 2013-2015)
Mike Byrne (postdoc, 2014-2015)
Ellen Bledsoe (technician, 2015)
Zach Ross (technician, 2015)
Jeff Peterson (undergraduate student, 2014)
Lincoln Oliver (technician, 2014)
Zak Smith (technician, 2012-2014)