I am an evolutionary ecologist interested in the mechanisms and consequences of interactions involving plants and other organisms. My research is generally grounded in field-based studies, but I take an integrative approach that includes phytochemical analysis, laboratory bioassays, and a diversity of quantitative methods.
I began as an assistant professor at Virginia Tech in January 2017. Previously I was a postdoctoral researcher with Katja Poveda at Cornell University and a Ph.D. student with Deane Bowers at the University of Colorado.
I am interested in how ecological interactions – reciprocal and specific – have shaped the evolution of the clades involved. My research has been focused on particular aspects of the ecology and physiology of phyllostomid bats in Venezuela.
For my dissertation, I will explore the effects of secondary compounds contained in fruits with respect to the physiology and behavior of bats, using a well-known model of interactions: Carollia and Piper. I would like to elucidate the fate of these fruit compounds in the bats, and ascertain if these animals can use these toxins for their own benefits. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Melissa Burt Ph.D. Student
I am interested in the effects of anthropogenic global change (e.g. habitat fragmentation, climate change, etc.) on ecological communities and plant-animal interactions. Before starting my PhD, I spent 5 years conducting research on the effects of habitat connectivity on longleaf pine savanna plant and ant communities. My current work investigates seed dispersal by ants in the same system. Contact: email@example.com | @MelissaABurt | Google Scholar
Xavier Ozowara Ph.D. Student
I am mainly interested in sustainable agriculture and plant physiological changes in response to climate change. Before starting my M.S. at VT, I completed my undergrad at Old Dominion University. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Morgan Haymaker Research Technician/Lab Manager
I’m a Coast Guard veteran finishing my B.S. in Biology at Oregon State. I have always been drawn to nature and natural sciences. I have an eclectic work history that I’m hoping brings value to the lab. I love continuously learning and am excited to be a part of this research team!
Billy and Joey Junior Researchers
We are a big brother & little brother team investigating the generalist foraging strategies of lepidopterans and their effects on weight gain prior to pupation.
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If you are a motivated undergraduate, prospective graduate student, or post-doc and think you would be a good fit for the lab, please see the lab opportunities section for more details on any current recruiting efforts and tips for prospective students.