Tuberville Lab
@ the University of Georgia Savannah River Ecology Laboratory

Lab Personnel


 

RESEARCH STAFF

Nicole with hatchling alligatorNicole White grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. 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. Through field work and eventually graduate school, she hopes to better understand anthropogenic effects on wildlife and the environment, as well as educate the public on their impacts on the communities and ecosystems that surround them and what can be done to mitigate these impacts.

Sam with snakeSam Dean's herpetological future was sealed when, given three wishes in 1st grade, she wrote that she wanted "a mansion, 100 turtles, and $1,000,000" (the money was CLEARLY to fund all that turtle research, what foresight!). Sam graduated from Cornell University in 2012 with a B.S. in Natural Resources. As an undergrad she worked for Dr. David Bonter on Project FeederWatch at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, where she grudgingly came to accept that birds might be cool. In 2011 she spent a summer interning at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, where she radiotracked eastern box turtles and worked on the Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas (MARA). Post grad, Sam was a middle school substitute teacher, and in her off time used the Smithsonian collections to identify 2000 year old turtle bones from a Native American midden pile. She then headed to Archbold Biological Station to intern under Dr. Betsie Rothermel. Using motion-sensor cameras set up at tortoise burrows, she investigated the courtship and mounting behavior of gopher tortoises. Sam is interested in the life history and ecology of herpetofauna, social behavior and spatial ecology of turtles, and citizen science as a tool for public engagement in herpetology. Sam is joining the Tuberville Herpetology Lab and will be collaborating with Brett DeGregorio on a ratsnake telemetry project at Ellenton Bay.

 

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.

 

RECENT ALUMNUS

Brian with baby alligatorsBrian Metts conducted his PhD research at SREL, where he also worked as a research technician. He recently accepted a teaching position at Georgia Regents University. Congratulations, Brian! He can be reached at the following address: brmetts(at)gru.edu.

 

GRADUATE STUDENTS

Jacob with desert tortoise Jacob Daly is an incoming Masterís student at the University of Georgiaís Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, under Drs. Tracey Tuberville and Kurt Buhlmann of SREL. 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. 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 with Drs. Tracey Tuberville and Kurt Buhlmann. Jaredís research is investigating the difference in growth and survival rates between headstarted and non-headstarted Blandingís turtle hatchlings.

 

Matt with milksnake Matt Hamilton is a Masterís student in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia. He received his BS in Wildlife Ecology from Purdue University in May 2012. While at Purdue, Matt conducted research on a long-term project assessing the population status of endangered timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) in Indiana under Dr. Rod Williams. He also contributed to several other projects by collecting tissue and blood samples from a variety of reptile and amphibian species. Matt will begin research at SREL starting the summer of 2013 under Drs. Tracey Tuberville of SREL and Sonia Hernandez of Warnell. Their research will focus on the potential biological effects of trace element and radionuclide contamination in American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis). 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.

 

Bess with tortoise Bess Harris is a Masters student in the UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources working under co-advisors Tracey Tuberville (SREL) and Nate Nibbelink (Warnell). She is an alumna of Agnes Scott College, where she majored in biology. As an undergraduate, she gained research experience studying the ecology of blue-headed wrasse (Thalassoma bifasciatum). After graduation she worked as a research technician at SREL, where she studied long-term site fidelity in eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina) and the ecology and effects of contaminants on freshwater turtles and alligators. Her thesis project focuses on the ecology of juvenile gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus), particularly the spatial ecology and activity patterns of this poorly understood life stage. She is working on St. Catherines Island, Georgia, as part of a long-term collaboration with Dr. Terry Norton and the St. Catherines Island Foundation. In addition to spatial ecology of juvenile tortoises, Bess will also be evaluating habitat use, population dynamics, survivorship, and the effects of different management techniques on this species. After completing her graduate studies, she wants to pursue a career in conservation and management of herpetofauna and their habitats.

 

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 martenís (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). Davidís research at SREL will begin in the summer and fall of 2014 and it will focus on the possible biological effects of heavy metal contamination in Yellow-bellied sliders (Trachemys scripta scripta). Once he has completed his graduate studies, David wants to pursue a career in research to continue assessing anthropogenic disturbances in wildlife.

 

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.

 

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

Amanda with gray rat snakeAmanda Jones is an undergraduate student in the Honors Program at University of South Carolina at Aiken with a major in Biology and a concentration in Environmental Restoration and Remediation. Amanda is working as a summer intern in Tracey Tuberville's Herpetology Lab studying the effects of contaminants on immune response in yellow-bellied sliders. After she graduates in 2015, she plans to attend graduate school and get a degree in Wildlife Biology.

 

ChrisChris Murphy is an undergraduate at UGA studying wildlife at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and is currently working as an intern in the Herpetology lab under Dr. Tracey Tuberville. He is examining evaporative water loss rates of various aquatic turtle and terrestrial snake species to better understand their vulnerability to drought. Chris will be using this research for his senior thesis in the fall. He has a general interest in the field of herpetology but hopes to one day study the reptiles and amphibians of Central America. Chris will graduate from Warnell in December 2014 after which he plans to work seasonal jobs for a couple years before applying to graduate school.

 

VISITING RESEARCHERS

Brett with snake Brett DeGregorio attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst as an undergraduate and became very interested in the ecology and conservation of reptiles. After traveling around the United States working on various projects as a field technician he went back to school and earned his Masters degree at Indiana Ė Purdue University at Fort Wayne studying the spatial ecology and habitat selection of the massasauga rattlesnake. Shortly after graduating he was fortunate enough to spend some time on the SRS working with various SREL faculty including Drs. Tracey Tuberville and Kurt Buhlmann. When an opportunity arose that would allow him to pursue a PhD at the University of Illinois under direction of Drs. Jinelle Sperry and Pat Weatherhead while conducting his research on the SRS he jumped at the opportunity. He is currently conducting his 3rd of 4 field seasons studying snake Ė bird interactions at Ellenton Bay. Specifically he is interested in uncovering how snakes locate bird nests, what factors influence whether a nest is found by a predator or not, and how changing temperatures will alter the behavior of snakes and the trickle down effects upon their prey. Dr. Tuberville is hosting Brett's research and they are collaborating on a study investigating how time in captivity and rearing conditions affect foraging ability and post-release behavior in ratsnakes.

 

John with crocodile From a young age John Finger has always been interested in crocodilians and other animals. At North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC, he studied Zoology, graduating in 2008, furthering that interest, and working on research projects investigating zebrafish endocrinology (HPA axis) and ecology (prey/habitat selection) of copperhead snakes. From 2006 to 2010, he worked as crocodilian handler with alligators (both species), many species of crocodiles, and a host of caimans (along with other reptiles, birds, and mammals) at Alligator Adventure in North Myrtle Beach, SC, developing countless questions about crocodilian biology and, in particular, immunology. These questions led him to the University of Georgia in the fall of 2010 to pursue in a PhD in Toxicology in the Department of Environmental Health Science under Dr. Travis Glenn. First, he began investigating infectious diseases, notably human and avian influenza, in American alligators. From May 2012 to May 2013, he was able to work as a research assistant on a saltwater crocodile farm for the University of Sydney in the Northern Territory of Australia. During his stay, he and his colleagues developed techniques to assess immunocompetence and determined some of the first measures of stress (and other hormones) in saltwater crocodiles, the latter of which has led to his interest of how multiple variables (including toxicants) may affect the HPA axis. His current project is centered on determining how toxicants (EDCs and metals) affect both the stress response and immune function in American alligators using in vivo tests and measuring alterations in RNA expression. John will be conducting several experiments at SREL in conjunction with Dr. Tracey Tuberville and her students.

 

Henry with tropical bird Henry Pollock is a 3rd year Ph.D. student in the laboratory of Dr. Jeffrey Brawn at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He began birding a few years ago and fell in love, and has been conducting research on them ever since. Specifically, I am interested in how climate influences avian physiology. Currently, he is investigating whether or not tropical and temperate-zone birds exhibit differences in microclimate selection and metabolic responses to temperature, and is conducting comparative research between Panama and South Carolina. Henry and his colleagues are using techniques such as radio-telemetry and respirometry to address these questions. The data they collect will help elucidate how birds at different latitudes will respond to climate change and to environmental variation in general. Dr. Tracey Tuberville is hosting his research project, and they will be collaborating to collect pilot data comparing metabolic rates of reptiles in contaminated and uncontaminated habitats.

 

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.