Graduate student Mentors 

Tina Cheng 
Ph.D. Candidate
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology,
University of California, Santa Cruz

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About her:

“I’m a graduate student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and am interested in the ecology and evolution of emerging infectious diseases in wildlife. I am broadly interested in exploring the dynamics of invading pathogens, particularly those causing large disturbances to host populations and in the worst-case scenario, resulting in disease-induced host extinctions. My doctoral dissertation focuses on an emerging infectious disease in North American hibernating bats, White-nose Syndrome (WNS), which has caused high rates of mortality and currently threatens several bat species with extinction. I am exploring the use of probiotics and its use as a conservation tool for the management of WNS. I am also investigating mechanisms of survivorship in the little brown bat in response to WNS.

Through SMURF, I am working with interns to look at parasites on small mammals in the FERP (Forest Ecology Research Plot). We are particularly interested in the Black-legged tick, which vectors the bacterial spirochete that causes Lyme Disease in humans. As part of SMURF, we are collecting ticks from small mammals, which we can use to monitor Lyme Disease dynamics on our plot. Wildlife pathogens are a natural part of our ecosystem that can play important roles in mediating host abundance, biodiversity, and ecosystem health. Concurrently, invasive pathogens emerging as a result of human-mediated activities can often cause large disturbances to wildlife populations and ecosystems. Understanding both these processes is critical for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem health.”

Chris Law
Ph.D. Candidate,
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology,
University of California, Santa Cruz

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I am interested in using phylogenetic methods to investigate how diverse morphologies between closely related animals relate to distinct behaviors and ecosystem function.

I previously studied the relationship between diverse morphologies and burrowing behaviors in polychaete worms (Opheliidae) with Dr. Greg Rouse and Dr. Kelly Dorgan at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego where I also received my Bachelor of Science in Environmental Systems.

http://research.pbsci.ucsc.edu/eeb/cjlaw/

 

Current Interns 

 

Malone Ahern

Third Year
Environmental Science Major, 
Sonoma State University

Malone Ahern

Sonoma State University, 3rd year, Environmental Studies major

Mouse expert

email: malonea.ahern@gmail.com

 

Deanna Rhoades

Fourth Year
Ecology and Evolutionary Major, 
University of California, Santa Cruz

Deanna Rhoades

From Pleasant Hill in the East SF Bay Area

I aim to have a career in ecology research and get a PhD. My passion lies in studying mammals both in and out of the field.

email: drhoades@ucsc.edu

 

Carly Nicole Sanchez

Third Year
Environment Science Major with a concentration in Biology, 
University of California, Santa Cruz

Carly Nicole Sanchez

From Los Angeles County, Azusa

I’m interested in wildlife conservation and studying environmental patterns. My goals are to work with an organization that has an expertise in human geographies affect on the natural environment.

email: canisanc@ucsc.edu

 

John Ahrens

Third Year
Biology Major, 
University of California, Santa Cruz

John Ahrens

I’m interested in studying Environmental Conservation. Due to my love of the outdoors, I am looking to take my skills outside and focus on field based research or studies. The environment is something I have been passionate about my whole life and I look forward to a life long career preserving its natural beauty.

email: jlahrens@ucsc.edu

 

 

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Alexandra Molen (amolen@ucsc.edu)

I’m interested in anthropogenic impact, including predator release and habitat fragmentation on trophic dynamics in the coastal redwood forests. Through SMURF, I am learning about the diversity of small mammals in  and their respective ecological roles in the UCSC upper campus ecosystem. I love field work but eventually I’d like to work with National Geographic and help change global perspectives of wildlife conservation. I’d also like to explore the cultural history of fear and hate in relation to carnivores and how that effects their conservation status.

Vanessa Cabrera
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

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Natalie Neff
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Natalie Neff

Former Graduate mentors

Justine Smith
PhD Candidate
Wilmers Lab
Environmental Studies Department,
University of California, Santa Cruz

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About her:

“I am a doctoral student at the University of California, Santa Cruz. My research examines how anthropogenic disturbances influence carnivore behavior and the consequent effects on animal communities. Changes in carnivore behavior are likely to have impacts throughout ecological systems by means of alterations to trophic dynamics, community structure, and space-use of other species. I am combining spatial ecology, behavioral ecology, and conservation biology to investigate changes in carnivore hunting behavior in a fragmented landscape and determine the ramifications on the animal community of the Santa Cruz Mountains.”

More information about her and her work can be found here

Jordan Ruybal: PhD Candidate, UC Santa Cruz Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

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About her:

” I’m currently a PhD candidate at the University of California, Santa Cruz in Dr. A. Marm Kilpatrick’s lab. Climate change is predicted to have a large effect on human health by altering the transmission of many pathogens. My dissertation specifically examines how past and future evolution will alter the impact of climate change on vector-borne disease. The first half of my thesis work examines how variation in mosquito life history traits for populations of Culex pipiens (an important vector of West Nile virus) will alter predicted impacts of climate changes. And the second half of my thesis examines adaptation of Aedes aegypti (the main vector of dengue, yellow fever, and chikungunya viruses) life history traits in response to simulated climate change scenarios.

I joined SMURF in the Spring of 2015 and I’m broadly interested in understanding the ecological drivers of species interactions and coexistence on UCSC’s Forest Ecological Reserve Plot (FERP).  Specifically, I’m interested in exploring the enzootic pathogens present on the FERP and in the small mammals populations we study.  This will add another level to our understanding of the small mammal population dynamics.”

More information about her and her work can be found here

FORMER Smurfs

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Paulina Cradeur (pcradeur@ucsc.edu)

I am currently navigating through my undergraduate career as an Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Major, pursuing a career as a wildlife Veterinarian. As an avid animal lover and research enthusiast, I can confidently say that my internship with SMURF has been an amazing opportunity, supplying me with real hands-on research experience, valuable guidance, and connections with professionals in my field. Since I can remember, I have been fascinated with animals. Specifically, I am interested in endangered species preservation and habitat restoration.

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Alex Shenton (ashenton@ucsc.edu)

Evangeline Kardokas-Johanson – ekardoka@ucsc.edu

Maycee Hash – mhash@ucsc.edu

Rosa Johnson – rosa_j515@yahoo.com

Whitney Russell-Holcomb – warussel@ucsc.edu

Jessica Reyes – jecreyes@ucsc.edu

Catherine Chang – cechang@ucsc.edu

Savannah Robinson – slrobins@ucsc.edu

Kelsey Manuel – kmanuel@ucsc.edu

Bilal Bhatti – bbhatti@ucsc.edu