Ph.D. Graduates

Quinn Sorenson, UC-Davis postdoc


I focus on plant community ecology in the context of agricultural land-use history and habitat fragmentation in the U.S. Southeast longleaf pine ecosystem. I am interested in understanding how the legacies of agriculture on soil and belowground processes affect plant communities and restoration success. Within the Corridor Project, a well-replicated landscape experiment testing the effects of corridors, I am interested in how landscape connectivity affect the development of plant communities over time. I have a strong background in land management and restoration ecology in coastal sage scrub and grasslands of southern California. I hope to use my research to test ecological theory as well as inform conservation planning and restoration efforts.

Amy Alstad – Land Protection Associate, Driftless Area Land Conservancy

I am a former graduate student in the Damschen lab. My Ph.D. research


investigated long-term changes in the plant communities in Wisconsin prairie remnants. I am interested in resampling prairie sites first studied by John Curtis in the 1950s, and comparing the past and present plant communities to ask questions about the effects of landscape context, climate change, and plant functional traits. My aim with this research includes both providing answers to open questions in ecological theory, as well as generating results with tangible conservation and restoration applications.

Jesse Miller – Stanford University Lecturerjessemiller

I am an ecologist with research interests at the confluence of community ecology, landscape ecology, and ecological restoration. I am currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California-Davis, where I am studying effects of fire severity on plant communities and post-fire restoration in Hugh Safford’s lab. I completed my Ph.D. in Ellen Damschen’s lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May 2016, where I studied plant communities in glades (shallow soil grasslands) in the Ozarks of Arkansas and Missouri. Before graduate school I worked for several years as a field botanist, surveying for rare plant surveys on federal land and conducting ecological studies for academic research labs. I have also taught botany and biology classes in several settings over the years, and I greatly enjoy leading field classes and helping people discover plants and lichens and the stories they tell.