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 (Andrews’ 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 Kimberly’s 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

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 Blanding’s turtles at the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge. He is continuing his work on this project as a Master’s student at the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources with Drs. Tracey Tuberville and Kurt Buhlmann. Jared’s research is investigating the difference in growth and survival rates between headstarted and non-headstarted Blanding’s turtle hatchlings.

 

Matt with milksnake Matt Hamilton is a Master’s 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.

 

Dan with terrapins Dan Quinn is a Master’s 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

MattMatt Atkinson is currently working as an intern in the Herpetology lab under Dr. Tracey Tuberville. He plans on researching the ecology and physiology of different water snake species and how this may relate to dispersal across different habitat types. In the fall, Matt will continue his education at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources (University of Georgia). He will graduate in spring of 2014 with a degree in Wildlife Management. He then plans to earn both a master’s degree in Wildlife Management and a Ph. D. Once finished with school, he plans on teaching either ecology or wildlife management at the university level.

 

PaulPaul Thomas is a new undergraduate researcher under Dr. Tracey Tuberville. He is currently attending the University of South Carolina-Aiken and will graduate in 2014 with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Radioecology. He started his college career at USC-Salkehatchie in Allendale, SC where he aided in herpetological studies under Dr. Eran Kilpatrick. At USCA, he worked under Dr. S. Michele Harmon in the Environmental Toxicology Lab and will work with Dr. Virginia Shervette in the Fisheries Conservation Lab for his senior research. After graduation, he intends to continue on to graduate school and study herpetology and/or wetlands ecology.

 

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 – 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 – 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 Master’s 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 Tuberville’s 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.