Graduate Students

Stephanie McFarlane

A portrait of Stephanie McFarlane. The portrait is drawn by Liz Kozik and features a monarch butterfly in the background.

I am interested in plant community assembly and restoration and related impacts on pollinators and pollination services. I am working to better understand how different management regimes affect restored tallgrass prairie plant and insect communities. This work is a collaboration between our lab and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) as well as Claudio Gratton and Jade Kochanski at UW-Madison.

Email: mcfarlane [at]

Katherine T. Charton

A portrait of Katherine Charton. The portrait is drawn by Liz Kozik and features an oak savanna in the background.

I am broadly interested how climate, disturbance, and their interaction impact plant communities. To investigate this, I am currently working in two long-term field experiments in southern Wisconsin tallgrass prairies, one focused on the interaction of disturbance timing and winter snow cover (started in 2016 by former graduate student Jon Henn) and the other on the interaction of woody plant management practices, environmental context, and summer drought (started in 2020 by myself). I collaborate with land managers at the UW-Arboretum, The Prairie Enthusiasts, Madison Audubon, and WI State Natural Areas Program to facilitate experimental treatments and seek in return to better understand how land management practices can help us maintain prairie biodiversity and ecosystem services into the future. You can find more details about me on my website.

Email: charton [at]

angelica bautista

In my research, I ask how habitat degradation affects seed availability and whether seed limitation predicts long-term plant community dynamics in the longleaf pine savanna of the southeastern United States. While it is clear that seeds play a key role in promoting and maintaining plant diversity and that climate and land use alter the number and types of species that emerge, the mechanisms underpinning these patterns have not been tested, and the role of fire regimes and a changing climate are unclear. Isolating the direct and indirect effects of fire, land use, and climate change on seed survival is a key next step. My research on fire effects and post-fire community recovery will help inform fuels and prescribed fire management in a changing climate and across landscapes with varying land use histories.

Email: abautista3 [at]


I am interested in plant community and climate change ecology in fire-maintained grasslands with a specific emphasis on restoration outcomes. As anthropogenic influences continue to impact the persistence and composition of restored grasslands, I hope to understand
how prairie restoration can be made more effective in the long term. A changing
climate has the potential to alter interspecific interactions through impacts on phenological
timing, resource allocation, and establishment patterns in grassland plant species. Throughout my dissertation work, I plan to investigate the roles of fire timing, community assembly, and the overarching implications of a changing climate as drivers of plant community composition.

Email: mhomann [at]


Christopher Warneke

A photograph of Warneke taking plant community data in a recently-burned landscape. Warneke is wearing field clothes and looking into a 1x1 quadrat, to assess plant cover data. The herbaceous plants are primarily ferns and grasses, while the woody trees and shrubs are charred and blackened by the recent fire.

I am a plant ecologist interested in rare species and invasive species, and am driven by what makes populations at these ends of the abundance spectrum tick. I have worked primarily within restored habitat systems, as we can use experimental techniques to directly test ideas about species rarity and growing populations within these systems. In my position in the Damschen Lab, I am working primarily on data science and data management of the lab’s long-term data as well as how plant functional traits impact plant community patterns. You can find more details about me and find my CV [at my website].

Email: warneke [at]


Thomas Smith recently joined our group. More information will be coming soon.

Email: tasmith28 [at]

Research Associates and Technicians


Co-Lead technician and project manager for the Corridor Project at the Savannah River Site, SC.

Email: boverlie [at]


Co-Lead technician and project manager for the Corridor Project at the Savannah River Site, SC.

Email: eschwarz4 [at]


Co-Lead technician and project manager for the Corridor Project at the Savannah River Site, SC.

Email: mfarrell6 [at]

Undergraduate Research Technicians


I am both the lead lab technician and a researcher in the lab. More information to come!

Portraits courtesy of Liz Kozik