Department of Biology
College of Science
Years at UCF: 5.5
PhD from University of Tennessee
I am a conservation biologist and the focal research theme of my lab is characterizing and predicting species responses to natural and human-induced disturbances. I am leading a team of researchers, including sea turtle biologists, ecological and climate modelers, and engineers to investigate the effects of sea level rise on coastal nesting species. We are evaluating past nesting patterns and predicting future effects of sea level rise on nesting beaches of sea turtles, seabirds, shorebirds, and beach mice populations across coastal southeastern US. Additionally, I have been part of a research team comprised of economists and ecologists with the objective of valuing the costs of nonnative forest pests and pathogens to the US economy. We discovered that US households and local governments are picking up the bulk of the tab for damages caused by invasive, tree-feeding insects! For example, non-native, wood-boring insects such as the emerald ash borer costs local governments approximately $1.7 billion in expenditures each year, and $830 million in lost residential property values each year. My graduate students conduct research on topics ranging from restoration of degraded land to mitigating the effects of climate change on sea turtles. I love mentoring student researchers and I have a strong undergraduate research presence in my lab. I teach both graduate and undergraduate classes in ecology and invasion biology. Additionally, I am the chair of the research committee of the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council. I frequently serve on federal grant panels, as well as peer-review journal articles and grants.