Graduate Students

Eason Lab

Alissandra Ayala

PhD Student


 Education: B.S.A. in Biology- The University of Texas at Austin 2019

Research Interests: I am interested in how the urban heat island effect influences pollinator and forb phenology.

Webpage: Twitter: @AlissandraAyala

Rose Amrhein


PhD Student/Graduate Teaching Assistant


 Education: B.S. in Zoology from Juniata College

                   M.S. in Primate Behavior and Ecology from Central Washington University

 Research Interests: Anthropogenic influences on primate social behavior. Specifically, how human derived food and conflict relate to play behavior and communication in social primates.

Emery Lab

Shannon Walker

Ph.D. Student



M.S. Biology, Virginia Commonwealth University

B.S. Biological Sciences, emphasis in Environmental Biology, minor in Chemistry, The University of Southern Mississippi

Research Interests: I am interested in how global change affects plant communities and above and belowground traits. I am further interested in how these changes impact ecosystem processes and services. I currently work in sand dune ecosystems along the Great Lakes evaluating the impacts of climate, nitrogen deposition, and disturbance on a variety of plant communities.

Julia Kachanova

PhD Student & Teaching Assistant


Education: MSc in Forestry and Natural Resources Management, University of Padova, Italy, 2020

Research Interests: urban green spaces, ecosystem services, plant and insect biodiversity, urban ecology, heat island effect, soil health, social justice

Kimberly Koenig

Kimberly Koenig

GTA/PhD Student

Education: B.A. in Psychology from University of Kentucky, focus on animal behavior
MSSW from UofL Kent School, focus on school social work
Undergraduate work in biology at UNC Wilmington and NKU

Research Interests: Protection, conservation and restoration of local ecosystems, including Eastern deciduous forests, through the understanding of soil dynamics and processes, especially the role and relationships of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, along with the ecology, effects, and management of invasive species.


Kylea Garces

Kylea Garces

PhD Student/Graduate Teaching Assistant

Education: BS, Environmental Sciences University of Oregon 2014

Research Interests: Kylea's research has focused greatly on how fungal-plant interactions can shape community outcomes as well as the effects global change can have on shifting the direction and magnitude of these interactions to further alter community dynamics. Her current research asks how resource addition in the form of nitrogen deposition alters fungal root endophyte community responses within American beachgrass and how those changes within the belowground community may impose aboveground responses of the dune grass community on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Key Words: Fungal-plant interactions, global change, mutualisms, endophytes, dunes

Perlin Lab

Rebecca Dangol

Graduate student/ GTA


Education: Bsc. Biotechnology, Purbanchal University, Nepal

Research Interests: Host-pathogen interaction, microbial genetics, transcriptional regulation of fungal pathogen


Ming Chang Tsai

Ming-Chang Tsai (Nelson)

Graduate Student

Education: MS in Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging in San Jose State University. MS and PhD candidate in Biology in University of Louisville

Research Interests: Interactions between fungal proteins and plant host proteins during infection.

Roxanne Leiter

Roxanne Leiter

PhD Candidate

Education: M.Sc. University of Louisville

Research Interests: My research interests have always involved genetics, though sometimes of very different flavors! My master's work was in human population genetics and I have moved over to the biology department to study fungal genetics in the Spring of 2018 for a more functional approach to the study of genes. Underlying these two disparate areas of study within genetics has been a consistent interest in evolution and the flow of genetic information through time and across geographical space. My prospective dissertation project involves characterizing the genetic basis of infection in generalist species within the Microbotryum genus, which is a well-known group within a broader class of smut fungi. Through my dissertation research with Dr. Michael Perlin, I hope to explore the evolutionary dynamics between plant hosts and their fungal pathogens by studying the genetic underpinnings of infection strategies employed by fungi.

Menze Lab

David Grimm

David Grimm

PhD Student, GTA

Education: Eastern Illinois University, Bachelor of Science

Research Interests: Biomimetic approaches to cell preservation.

Running Lab

Jesse Rozsa

PhD Candidate


Education: Masters of Science Molecular Genetics, Certificate of Bioinformatics and Biostatistics, B.S Biological Sciences

Lab: Running Lab 219

Research Interests: Plant genetics, Heterologous protein expression systems, and Plant Biochemistry.

Yanoviak Lab

Daniella Prince

Daniella Prince

PhD Candidate & Graduate Teaching Assistant

Education: Marine Biology Sc. B., Brown University, 2012

Research Interests: Sensory ecology, evolution & behavior of tropical ants; comparative neurobiology; natural history.

website: @daniellants (Twitter)

Kane Lawhorn

PhD Candidate; Research assistant


Education: B.S. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; University of Tennessee Knoxville

Research Interests: My research focuses on how arthropods respond to environmental disturbance. Specifically, I investigate the effects of lightning in Panama and prescribed fire in Kentucky. I take a community- and individual-level approach to quantify differences in arthropod composition, behavior, and physiology across a variety of taxa including beetles, ants, millipedes, and spiders.

Keywords: community ecology, disturbance ecology, arthropod ecology, forest entomology, natural history

Abigail Nienaber

PhD Student, Graduate Teaching Assistant


Education: B.S. Biology, Northern Kentucky University

Research Interests: Broadly, my research investigates the responses of spiders to environmental disturbance. Specifically, I study how prescribed fire and deer browsing shape spider assemblages. My research also explores how disturbance influences the relationship between web morphology and prey capture.

Keywords: disturbance ecology, spider ecology, arthropod ecology, community ecology, morphology

Andrew Seiler

PhD Student


Education: B.S. in Biology, A.A. in Chemistry, Thomas More University

Research Interests: I am interested in the fall of arthropods from tree canopies (“arthropod rain”) and the fates of those fallen arthropods (climbing back to tree canopies, falling prey to other organisms, etc.). I will quantify the amount and composition of arthropod rain, then conduct elemental analyses of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus. This will allow me to investigate the role arthropod rain plays in nutrient cycling in forest ecosystems.

Keywords: ecology, insect ecology, ants, arthropods, conservation, tropical, temperate, forest

Dugatkin Lab

Emmy Delekta

PhD Student


Education: M.S. in Biology – West Liberty University, 2021

Research Interests: crayfish; evolutionary trends and adaptations; functional morphology; natural history; taxonomy & systematic


 Lackey Lab

Sophia Anner

PhD Student/Graduate Fellow


Education: B.S. in Biology from University of Denver

Research Interests: I am interested in how natural and sexual selection pressures shape communication, behavior, and divergence between populations. I am currently working to identify courtship interactions in the Rhagoletis species complex and assess the contribution of sexual selection to speciation.

 Christian Lab

Noelle Visser

PhD Student


Education: BS Human Biology, Indiana University; MSc Medical Mycology, University of Manchester

Research Interests: Microbial ecology, community ecology, fungal foliar endophytes, secondary metabolites, botanical gardens, natural history.


 Fuselier Lab

Morghan McCool

Master’s Student


Education: BS. Biology University of Louisville

Research Interests: I’m primarily interested in bryophyte ecology and how different variables (fungi, disturbance, conspecifics, dispersal) affect community assembly. I’m also interested in cave/karst ecosystem ecology. My current research involves bryophyte community assemblages in disturbed karst caves.

 Hwangbo Lab

Mubaraq Opoola

PhD Student



B. Agric. (Hons) Animal Science, University of Maiduguri, Nigeria, 2015

M. Agric. Animal Biotechnology, Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, Nigeria, 2019.

Research Interests: Sleep, aging, feeding, and feeding behavior, circadian clock, Human disease model in Drosophila melanogaster.


 Pigg Lab

Mallory Harmel

PhD Student and Graduate Teaching Assistant


Education: B.S. in Biological Sciences from California Polytechnic State University- San Luis Obispo

Research Interests: I am interested in wildlife ecology and the effects of habitat fragmentation on wildlife population movements, community composition, and habitat use. Specifically, I am investigating how wildlife corridors affects species diversity, movement, and genetic dispersal using study populations of ticks, small mammals, and snakes.

Key words: wildlife ecology, small mammals, herpetology, habitat fragmentation, wildlife management