Former Graduate Students
jon henn (PHD 2020) – university of colorado-boulder & university of california-riverside, postdoc
I study how functional traits can help explain plant responses to factors like climate change, species invasions, and changing disturbance regimes. My research focuses on these issues to improve the restoration and management of ecosystems under rapidly changing conditions. In addition to doing research, I actively work on developing effective mentoring, teaching, and outreach skills because I believe that scientists need to be effective mentors, teachers, and communicators to help cultivate the next generation of scientists and engaged citizens.
JEANNINE RICHARDS (PHD 2020) – NSF POSTDOC FELLOW
I am interested in the controls over tropical epiphyte diversity and how social and economic impacts alter their composition and abundance. I recently completed my Ph.D. in spring 2020 studying epiphyte diversity in Nicaragua. I am now a postdoc at the University of Wisconsin-Madison after receiving a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship.
Quinn Sorenson (pHD 2019) – 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 (phd 2017) – Director of Land Management & Environmental Education – holy wisdom monastery (madison, wi)
I am a former graduate student in the Damschen lab. My Ph.D. research where I investigated long-term changes in the plant communities in Wisconsin prairie remnants. I resampled prairie sites first studied by John Curtis in the 1950s, and compared 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 included both providing answers to open questions in ecological theory, as well as generating results with tangible conservation and restoration applications.
Jesse Miller (phd 2016) – Stanford University Lecturer
I am an ecologist with research interests at the confluence of community ecology, landscape ecology, and ecological restoration. 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. After graduating, I was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California-Davis, where I am studied the effects of fire severity on plant communities and post-fire restoration in Hugh Safford’s lab. I am now a lecturer at Stanford University. 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.
MELISSA SIMON (MS 2010) – NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
LAURA LADWIG – assistant professor, university of wisconsin-oshkosh
Ecological communities are in constant flux. Organisms thrive and decline. Species come and go. Whole systems can be altered by a change in one aspect of the community, and as communities change, so too do the services they provide. Understanding what causes ecological communities to change and evaluating the consequences of said change are the basis of my research. The majority of my research revolves around plants. How plants respond to the environment, react to changing conditions, and influence the surrounding community. Plants are critical components of many food webs and have a large influence on the environment, so understanding how plants change informs us about the whole system.