Get to know a few Harris Center Students at work: 


Vincenzo Ellis (Ph.D., Robert Ricklefs lab)

Supported by:
Peter H. Raven World Ecology Research Scholarship
Mary Osborne Scholarship in Ecology and Conservation

"I am studying the relationship between the abundance of eastern North American birds and haemosporidian parasites (i.e., avian malaria) in various locations in the Eastern United States. Specifically I will quantify the relationship between parasite prevalence and interspecific (i.e., relative) host abundance as well as intraspecfic (i.e. a given host's population size across its range) host abundance. Parasite identity and prevalence will be determined by DNA screening of blood samples from locations across the eastern United States."

Vincenzo Ellis holding a bird

Vona Kuczynska (M.S., Robert Marquis lab)

Supported by:
Leo and Kay Drew Scholarship
Peter H. Raven World Ecology Research Scholarship

"For my thesis project, I am investigating the effects of Lonicera maackii (Amur honeysuckle), a pervasive, exotic understory shrub that displaces native plants, reduces native seedling regeneration, and alters the architectural structure of forests, on foraging by bats. To determine if L. maackii has cascading effects in the food web, I researched how honeysuckle affects arthropods and bats in various locations in the St. Louis region, sampling bat calls to estimate their activity, measuring vegetation structure, and collecting insect abundance via various trapping methods."

Vona removes a bat from a net in mastadon state park 

Heretiana Ranarivelo (Ph.D., Peter Stevens' lab)

Supported by:
Henry B. Cowhey Scholarship in Tropical Conservation

"I aim to provide the first comprehensive phylogeny of Vismiae, to assess morphological character variation within the tribe, and to investigate its biogeography. In Africa and Madagascar, these plants, relatives of St. John's Wort, are trees. I will delimit species of the Malagasy Psorospermum by integrating their phylogeny with morphology. Research support is currently being used to travel to numerous locations throughout Madagascar to collect specimens for subsequent morphological and genetic analysis."

Heretiana Ranarivelo doing fieldwork

Galen Priest (Ph.D., Robert Marquis lab)

Supported by:
John Denver Memorial Scholarship in Tropical Ecology
Henry B. Cowhey Scholarship in Tropical Conservation

"My dissertation research focuses on how wood-boring beetles impact community composition of arboreal ants on trees in the Brazilian Cerrado. I study these interactions at the Pangua research station, Uberlândia, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Because of their abundance, ants are one of the most important animal groups in the tropics. Arboreal ants in the tropics rely on tree cavities created by wood-boring beetles as an essential resource for nesting sites. The goal of my research is to understand how the diversity and abundance of wood-boring beetles on six tree species impacts ant community composition and trophic interactions in the Cerrado."

Galen Priest in a tree

Christina Baer (Ph.D., Robert Marquis lab)

Supported by:
Stephen Mitchell Doyle Scholarship in Tropical Ecology

"I research the shape and function of caterpillar shelters built by skipper butterflies. I went to northwestern Costa Rica for my first field season to find out how the shelters built by different butterfly species differ in shape, and to determine how shelters protect catepillars from threats like parasitic wasps and predators. I am also using DNA samples to determine how evolution has shaped shelter shape differences among different species of buttefly larvae.

Christina Baer in the PV lab

Click here for a list of Harris Center Graduate Student Associates and their research interests

Last updated August 20, 2014