Meet the Lab

Mark Hunter : Earl E. Werner Distinguished University Professor

Mark Hunter

Earl E. Werner Distinguished University Professor

My research links population processes and ecosystem processes in terrestrial environments. I am particularly interested in feedback processes that operate between the population dynamics of herbivores and the quality of plants upon which they feed. I use a combination of approaches and techniques including field experiments, laboratory experiments, mathematical modeling, soil chemistry, plant chemistry, and stable isotope analysis. In addition to the development of theory, I apply what we learn to environmental issues including climate change, pest dynamics, and invasive species.

Leslie Decker : Graduate Student

Leslie Decker

Graduate Student

Leslie received a B.A. from Cornell University after completing a thesis project with Andre Kessler investigating the effects of herbivore-mediated changes in drought stress responses on plant fitness in the wild tobacco system. Following graduation, she worked with Monica Geber, studying the ecological and evolutionary limits of geographic range expansion of plants in the genus Clarkia. Leslie joined the lab in fall of 2013 to study the disease dynamics of the monarch butterfly and its protozoan parasite in the context of global change. She plans to explore how CO2-induced changes in milkweed food-plant chemistry may alter parasite transmission and virulence.  For more information, visit Leslie's website.
Holly Andrews : M.S. Student

Holly Andrews

M.S. Student

Holly received her Bachelor of Science degree in Botany and Environmental Science from Miami University in May 2013.  During her undergraduate career, she worked with David Gorchov to characterize the dispersal methods and invasion patterns of invasive plants.  She also studied salt marsh soil and plant dynamics under changing environmental conditions as part of a GRO undergraduate fellowship with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Holly is currently interested in analyzing how water stress affects both plant defenses and plant-mycorrhizal interactions.
Amanda Meier : Ph.D. Student

Amanda Meier

Ph.D. Student

Amanda received her BS in biology and environmental science in 2013 from Muhlenberg College. She is broadly interested in the chemical ecology of multitrophic interactions and the implications of these interactions for community-scale dynamics. In addition, she is interested in how microbial communities, such as belowground symbioses with plants, may mediate these interactions. With her undergraduate advisor, Dr. Rich Niesenbaum, she examined how leaf age and light environment interact to affect carbon-based defenses and plant-insect interactions. Currently, she is investigating how mycorrhizal fungi may influence aboveground tritrophic interactions among milkweed (Asclepias) species, milkweed herbivores, and the herbivores’ natural enemies by altering plant nutrient quality and defenses. Conversely, she is examining how herbivores and herbivores’ natural enemies affect mycorrhizal fungi.
Hilary Streit : Lab Tech

Hilary Streit

Lab Tech

I am currently the lab tech in the Hunter lab. My responsibilities include the chemical analysis of samples, as well as caring for milkweed grown for experiments. I have a bachelors degree in Environmental Science from SUNY-ESF.
Katherine Crocker : Ph.D. Student

Katherine Crocker

Ph.D. Student

I'm interested in how animals adapt to their environments over different time-scales, and particularly how hormones can help them to do this. My dissertation work focuses on a potential mechanism for transgenerational adaptation and on its implications over an intermediate time scale (between individual adaptation and the evolution of populations). You can read more about my research and teaching interests on my web page.
Johanna Nifosi : Master's Student

Johanna Nifosi

Master's Student

Johanna completed her bachelor’s degree in Biology at Universidad Metropolitana in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in December 2012. As an undergraduate, she conducted research under Eva Davila’s mentorship, involving both pollination competition and dragonfly diversity in a natural reserve. She also participated in three REU experiences, working in different systems including salmon ecology in Idaho, biocontrol in Virginia and amphibian disease ecology in Colorado.  After graduating, she worked as a research assistant on a project that assessed how nutrient enrichment affected a mangrove forest. She is currently interested in plant-insect interactions and conservation.
Kristel Sanchez : Master's Student

Kristel Sanchez

Master's Student

I obtained my Bachelors degree in Biological Sciences from Florida International University. For my honors thesis, I studied how the density of coral transplants influenced herbivores in newly restored reef patches. During my free time I worked on another project that looked at the teratogenic effects of compounds found during harmful algal blooms using zebrafish embryos as a model organism.
As a native of the coast of the Ecuador, I have always been drawn to the water therefore I am interested in studying aquatic ecosystems. Broadly, I am interested in aquatic chemical ecology and community ecology. For my Master's thesis, I am studying resource ecology trade-offs in parasite-host interactions. Specifically, what are the fitness impacts of consuming nutritious algae vs toxic algae on parasitized Daphnia?
Some of my favorite hobbies include running outdoors, snorkeling, and kayaking.