|Title||Graduate Student (MS)|
I am a Master’s student working on an oak savanna restoration project where we are looking at how different approaches to restoration affect the pollinator community, and how this community in turn, might affect the function of the recovering system and the overall ‘success’ or trajectory of a restoration project. Not surprisingly, I am generally interested in conservation biology and ecological restoration of natural communities, particularly in the Midwestern United States. Many of our most precious natural areas are facing a slew of human-induced threats that are altering their structure and function, not least among them are invasion by exotic species, climate change, and widespread fire suppression. These are just some of the challenges that the restoration community must tackle as we move beyond preservation alone and work to restore our degraded natural areas. I am particularly interested in the interaction between our management actions and the biodiversity we are trying to reestablish in restoration projects, such as prescribed burning and the influence of native pollinators on the flowering plant community. For true ecological restoration to occur and for the persistence of our restored natural communities, land managers must make an effort to include things like biodiversity and ecosystem function in their restoration goals along with more commonly used metrics like aesthetics and plant establishment.
I grew up near Kalamazoo, Michigan on a lake where, along with encouragement from my family, I acquired my love and fascination for nature at a young age. As a young adult I gained a fervent interest in birds, shortly followed by plants, insects, mushrooms, etc., which led to an interest in ecology and conservation as a career. Restoration was the perfect way to combine all of these things while making a tangible difference and getting my hands dirty at the same time. Working in restoration has allowed me to work in commercial native plant production, stewardship and management for several non-profit conservation organizations, and currently research. I was fortunate enough as an undergraduate in Zoology at MSU to be able to work with one of Dr. Landis’s former PhD students, Anna Fiedler, on a prairie fen restoration project and also had the opportunity to conduct research on the affects of an invasive shrub, glossy buckthorn, on fen hydrology. After finishing with my Master’s project I hope to work in land management and restoration in the Midwest, working with diverse groups of people to take unique approaches to conservation of natural communities and biodiversity. When I’m not thinking about the birds and the bees, I enjoy anything that gets me outdoors as well as cooking, homebrewing, reading, traveling, and finger painting.