Tuberville Lab
@ the University of Georgia Savannah River Ecology Laboratory

Lab Personnel


 

RESEARCH STAFF

Amanda with gray rat snakeAmanda Jones graduated from University of South Carolina-Aiken with a B.S. in Biology and a concentration in Environmental Remediation and Restoration. She is working this summer as a lab/research assistant at SREL, where she will continue the research project she initiated as an undergraduate in Summer 2014 on immune function of yellow-bellied sliders. She also assists with a variety of other reptile projects on the Savannah River Site. In Fall 2015, Amanda will begin a Masterís program at the Arnold School of Public Health at University of South Carolina, majoring in Environmental Health Sciences.

 

GRADUATE STUDENTS

Jacob with desert tortoise Jacob Daly is a Masterís student at the University of Georgiaís Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, where he is co-advised by Drs. Tracey Tuberville and Clint Moore. He is a recent graduate of the University of Louisville, where he studied Biology and Ecology (B.S.). His thesis will focus on improving existing methods for head-starting Mojave Desert Tortoise hatchlings (Gopherus agassizii), in the effort to bolster recruitment in this threatened species. His study site is in the Mojave National Preserve, CA and the project is in collaboration with Drs. Kurt Buhlmann (UGA/SREL) and Brian Todd (University of California, Davis). Jacob first got involved with wildlife when he started volunteering at the Louisville Zoo at age 12. These early interactions with captive animals gave him a lasting passion for wildlife biology and conservation. As a junior in college, he began studying territorial behavior in fish, but his interest soon shifted to applied wildlife management and conservation. He then spent a summer as a technician on a large mammal project in New Mexico, assessing the effects of habitat restoration treatments on animal movements and habitat use. He has since gained additional wildlife experience mitigating bird-aircraft collisions. Jacob is interested in applied conservation, with specific interest in manipulative methods such as reintroduction, head-starting, and habitat restoration.

 

Jared with mountain lion Originally from Pennsylvania, Jared Green received a B.S. in Natural Resources from the University of Connecticut in 2009. With a concentration in Wildlife Management, his studies included a field ecology class in South Africa where he researched the habitat preferences of black-backed jackals. Since graduating, he has worked for the National Park Service investigating movement patterns of mountain lions and bobcats in urban areas of California and the feeding habits of wolves in Yellowstone National Park. His past three years have been spent working for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Massachusetts studying the success of a repatriation project involving state-threatened Blandingís turtles at the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge. He is continuing his work on this project as a Masterís student at the University of Georgiaís Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, where he is co-advised by Drs. Tracey Tuberville and Richard Chandler. Jaredís research, in collaboration with PI Dr. Kurt Buhlmann (UGA/SREL), is investigating the difference in growth and survival rates between headstarted and non-headstarted Blandingís turtle hatchlings.

 

Matt with milksnake Matt Hamilton Hamilton is a Masterís student in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia under Drs. Tracey Tuberville and Robert Bringolf. Mattís thesis research at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory is focused on investigating the effects of long-term stressors, such as contaminants, on the stress response, immune function, and population status of American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) on the Savannah River Site. While growing up in Indiana, Matt developed a passion for photography and wildlife that ultimately led him to pursue an education concentrating on reptile and amphibian ecology and conservation. He received his BS in Organizational Leadership and Supervision, and Wildlife Ecology from Purdue University in May 2012. While at Purdue, he conducted research on a long-term project assessing the population status of endangered timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) in Indiana under Dr. Rod Williams. His research interests include assessing the impacts of anthropogenic disturbance on reptiles and amphibians, conservation genetics of endangered and threatened species, scavenging ecology, ecotoxicology, and wildlife disease ecology.

 

David with brown snake David Haskins is an incoming Masterís student at the University of Georgiaís Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, under Dr. Tracey Tuberville of SREL. He was raised in Philadelphia, Tennessee, and received his B.S. in Biology with a minor in Statistics from Maryville College in 2014. As an undergraduate, David performed research on the American marten's (Martes americana) prey base in conjunction with Grand Valley State University and the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians in the Manistee National Forest of Michigan. He also assisted in other projects such as marten kit dispersal and observing nesting behavior in the Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina). Under co-advisors Drs. Tracey Tuberville (SREL) and Robert Bringolf (Warnell), Davidís research at SREL focuses on the physiological effects of anthropogenic contaminants in Yellow-bellied sliders (Trachemys scripta scripta). His research interests include the influence of anthropogenic disturbances on wildlife, ecotoxicology, life history and evolution of herpetofauna, and wildlife conservation.

 

Dan with terrapins Dan Quinn is a Masterís student in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia. Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, he received a B.S. in Biology from Truman State University in 2010. As an undergraduate, he gained research experience studying several species of herpetofauna in Latin America and the Caribbean, including habitat use and abundance of the Grenadian tree boa (Corallus grenadensis) and thermal ecology of the lion anole (Norops lionotus). Since graduating, Dan has worked as a technician on a variety of conservation projects including hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) with the St. Louis Zoo and giant garter snakes (Thamnophis gigas) with the USGS. Most recently, he has focused on diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) road mortality mitigation through The Georgia Sea Turtle Center and AmeriCorps. His research interests include mitigating impacts of anthropogenic disturbance, behavioral ecology, and spatial ecology of herpetofauna. Under Drs. Tracey Tuberville and Kurt Buhlmann of SREL, and in collaboration with Dr. Terry Norton of St. Catherines Island Foundation, Dan is conducting research investigating the use of head-started gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) for augmenting populations in managed areas. Dan is co-advised by Dr. Jeffrey Hepinstall-Cymerman at Warnell.

 

Nicole with hatchling alligatorNicole White is pursuing her Masterís degree at the Daniel B. Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at UGA, where she is co-advised by Drs. Tracey Tuberville and Jeffrey Hepinstall-Cymerman. She grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and she graduated from Birmingham-Southern College with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Spanish. She became interested in herpetology after doing an internship working with loggerhead sea turtles in Tampa, Florida at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Since graduating, Nicole has served as a research coordinator at two sea turtle nesting projects in remote areas of Costa Rica and as an AmeriCorps Research Member at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center in 2012 and 2013. While she has worked primarily towards the conservation of sea turtles, Nicole has an avid interest in studying conservation and herpetology on a broader scale. She started at SREL as a technician working primarily on gopher tortoise monitoring projects. Her graduate research focuses on the characterizing the social behavior and ecology of the gopher tortoise at Archbold Biological Station in Venus, Florida, in collaboration with Tracey Tuberville and Dr. Betsie Rothermel. Nicoleís research interests include animal behavior and ecology, conservation ecology, and human-wildlife interactions.

 

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

JaradJarad Cochran is a senior biology major at the University of South Carolina Upstate. His research experiences began in 2013 working with Upstate Herpetology, an undergraduate research group managed by Dr. Melissa Pilgrim. As part of the group, Jarad conducts frog call surveys for the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program, uses automated recording systems to monitor anuran breeding assemblages in the Piedmont region, and has a key role in management of long-term databases (i.e., data entry, summary, analysis and archiving). As part of the REU program, Jarad is working with Drs. Pilgrim and Tuberville investigating the effects of contaminant exposure on metabolic rates of the eastern mud turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum). Following graduation, Jarad hopes to pursue a doctorate in Immunology.

 

NayaNaya Alexandra Eady grew up in Washington, DC. She is a rising senior at Trinity Washington University. At Trinity, Naya works with Dr. Karobi Moitra investigating unknown genes. She will graduate with a B.S. in Biology next spring. After graduation, she hopes to continue her educational journey and acquire a DVM/PHD in exotics. She aspires to use her degree to make significant contributions to zoological research and medicine. As part of the REU, Naya is working with Drs. Pilgrim and Tuberville studying the effects of contaminants on immune response in mud turtles.

 

CO-PIs AFFILIATED WITH SREL

KurtKurt Buhlmann is a conservation ecologist whose research interests include life history and evolutionary ecology with application for conservation and management of amphibians and reptiles. He has worked with non-profit, state, and federal agencies on habitat management projects, including prescribed fire and wetlands restoration. He and Tracey are co-PIs and collaborate on several reintroduction projects for tortoises and freshwater turtles. They also both serve as mentors to students and technicians working on these projects. Kurt is a Research Associate at University of Georgiaís Savannah River Ecology Lab.

 

Kimberly with rattlesnakeKimberly Andrews is the head of the research program on Jekyll Island, Georgia, and graduate faculty at the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia. She and Tracey collaborate on a range of projects investigating management approaches of reptiles and amphibians in anthropogenically-altered landscapes. Currently, they are conducting individual-based modeling with Bess Harris and Nate Nibbelink to assess population thresholds of several herpetofauna species in response to climate change and altered wetland hydroperiods. Kimberly and Tracey are also working with Gary Mills at Savannah River Ecology Laboratory assessing the level of PCB contamination of American alligators on the Georgia coast as part of Greg Skupien's (Andrewsí MS student) thesis work. Kimberly has worked at Savannah River Ecology Laboratory in the Herpetology and Outreach programs for over 10 years, where she conducted her graduate studies and has continued her work as a researcher and educator. For more information on Kimberlyís research program, please visit her lab website or Facebook page.

 

MelissaMelissa Pilgrim is Director of Research and an Associate Professor of Biology at the University of South Carolina Upstate. She obtained a B.S. in Biology from Stetson University, a M.S. in Biology from Southeastern Louisiana University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas. Melissa completed her post-doctoral work at the University of Georgiaís Savannah River Ecology Laboratory prior to accepting her current position with USC Upstate. Her primary research focus involves an integrative approach to investigating how ecosystems respond to environmental change (natural and anthropogenic). She is interested in large scale questions regarding anthropogenic influences on nutrient cycling and understanding how individual animal responses to environmental variation impact population level processes. Thus, her research program integrates field ecology, biogeochemistry (e.g., stable isotopes), and ecophysiology. Her research platform coupled with experience mentoring undergraduates and managing professional development opportunities for undergraduates makes her well-suited to her current work at SREL with the NSF Radioecology Research Experiences for Undergraduates program. As part of the Radioecology REU, Melissa will be onsite at SREL each summer helping to manage program activities and assessment, as well as mentoring participants. She and Tracey Tuberville will co-mentor REU students conducting research on environmental contaminants as stressors and as tracers in reptiles.

 

RECENT VISITING RESEARCHERS

Brett with snake Brett DeGregorio PhD at the University of Illinois under direction of Drs. Jinelle Sperry and Pat Weatherhead, is conducting his research on the SRS seasons studying the effects of climate change on snake Ė bird interactions at Ellenton Bay. Tracey hosted Brett's research and they collaborated on a study investigating how time in captivity and rearing conditions affect foraging ability and post-release behavior in ratsnakes. Brett is now working at the Construction Engineering Research Lab in Champaign, IL.

 

John with crocodile John Finger a PhD student in Toxicology in UGAís Department of Environmental Health Science under Dr. Travis Glenn, conducted a portion of his graduate research at in collaboration with Tracey Tuberville and students in her lab. His project at SREL centered on determining how selenium (a contaminant in coal combustion wastes) affects both the stress response and immune function in American alligators. John completed his dissertation in December 2014 and will be starting a postdoc at Auburn University in June 2015.

 

Phil with snake Phil Vogrinc grew up in Woodstock, Illinois, and earned his bachelors of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point. Currently a Masterís Student at the University of Arkansas under the mentorship of SREL alumnus Dr. J.D. Willson, Phil is interested in how environmental stochasticity influences the population ecology of reptiles and amphibians. In conjunction with SREL and Dr. Tracey Tubervilleís research lab, he is researching the effects of drought on semi-aquatic snake distribution and abundance and is investigating how wetland prey bases influence the dynamics of semi-aquatic snake communities. Phil has experience working as technician with various turtles, snakes, birds and fish in Minnesota, South Carolina and Iowa.

 

RECENT ALUMNI

Nick Nick Bossenbroek received a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology with a concentration in Research and Management from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. Before coming to SREL, Nick worked for the South Carolina State Park Service as an assistant park ranger at the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. While at SREL, Nick worked on a variety of projects in three labs! (Gary Mills, Larry Bryan, and Tracey Tuberville). Nick is now working for the US Forest Service.

 

Sam with snakeSam Dean worked as a research technician at SREL on the Long-Lived Reptile Project. She also radio-tracked ratsnakes at Ellenton Bay on the Savannah River Site in collaboration with Brett DeGregorio (PhD student, University of Illinois) to investigate the effects of long-term captivity on post-release survival and site fidelity. Sam is now pursuing her graduate studies at Cornell University.

 

Bess with tortoise Bess Harris has been a research technician, lab manager, and graduate student in the Herpetology Lab. She recently graduated from the University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources working under co-advisors Tracey Tuberville (SREL) and Nate Nibbelink (Warnell). Her thesis project investigated juvenile gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) ecology; including the spatial ecology, activity patterns, and growth rates in this poorly understood life stage. The research was conducted on St. Catherines Island, Georgia, as part of a long-term collaboration with Dr. Terry Norton (Georgia Sea Turtle Center) and the St. Catherines Island Foundation. Bess is now working with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

 

Caitlin with tortoise Caitlin Kupar received her B.S. Wildlife Biology from UGA. She has worked as a technician at SREL on the Long-Lived Reptile Project working with alligators and freshwater turtles, and assisting with a variety of our other lab projects. She has also interned at the Georgia Aquarium and participated in the Australia Maymester program through UGA. Caitlin will be working in Louisiana this field season radio-tracking fawns with another UGA lab, after which she hopes to pursue a masterís degree in Zoology or Physiology.

 

ChrisChris Murphy recently received his undergraduate at UGA studying wildlife at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. During Summer 2014, he worked as an intern in the Herpetology lab under Dr. Tracey Tuberville. He investigated evaporative water loss rates of various aquatic turtle and terrestrial snake species to better understand their vulnerability to drought. Chrisí research at SREL served as the basis for his senior thesis. Chris is currently working as a field technician studying giant garter snakes.