Caz Taylor, PhD

Caz Taylor PhD (Associate Professor). I am a population ecologist. I use mathematical or computational methods combined with field experiments to investigate the dynamics of species. I am particularly interested in how movements of species that are spatially distributed affect their population dynamics. I work on theoretical investigations using network models to describe migratory species as well as larval dispersal in marine species.


John A. Herbert (PhD Student). I am investigating the non-breeding ecology of shorebirds in North America and South America, with an emphasis on semipalmated sandpipers. My research will focus on stopover habitat in the northern Gulf of Mexico and wintering habitats in French Guiana, Suriname, and Brazil. With the use of GIS, remote sensing, nanotags and Motus towers, I aim to further the understanding of the migratory connectivity and non-breeding survival of shorebirds.


Christen Steele (PhD Student). I study trends in the population and community ecology of insects in human dominated landscapes (urban and agricultural systems). I am most interested in how interactions between insects, anthropogenic habitat change and diseases and/or parasites influence population dynamics of species. My goal is to use our understanding of these interactions to promote the conservation of beneficial insects and their associated ecosystem services. For my masters research I studied how interactions between pasture management, dung beetle activity, and red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) activity influence both the rate of dung degradation and the survival of livestock parasites incubating within dung. For my PhD, I plan to focus on the impact of habitat variables on monarch and parasite/parasitoid dynamics in the Gulf Coast region, where a small percentage of monarchs have been found to be dropping- out of the migratory cycle in order to breed year-round. As asides to my project, I am also interested in open science and its ability to improve the applicability of research, citizen science as a tool to increase science literacy, and promoting female participation in research.

Fabiola Rodriguez (PhD Student). My research interests include ecology and conservation of avian systems. My research experience stems from participating in several projects that have focused on Neotropical birds in various ecosystems in Central America (mainly Honduras and Nicaragua). I completed my Master’s research at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where I studied the distribution and habitat-abundance relationships of the Honduran Emerald hummingbird, an endemic bird species that inhabits the threatened dry forests. Through these previous experiences, I have learned how research can serve as a foundation to inform conservation actions. During my PhD I want to accomplish three objectives: i) contribute to wintering ecology theory of migratory birds that use different Central American ecosystems; ii) design and conduct research that integrates field experiments and the advances in modeling techniques to study wintering ecology; and iii) conduct research that may be useful to conservation partners across the region to mitigate threats that currently affect migratory bird populations.

Kiah Williams (PhD Student). I am interested in studying the effects of dune renourishment on shorebird survivorship and fecundity in coastal Louisiana. In gaining more insight into how coastal restoration affects shorebird ecology, I hope to improve land management and wildlife monitoring techniques for coastal restoration agencies.

Caitlin Ducat (MS Student). My overarching interest is in the ecological and evolutionary impacts of climate change and urban expansion on animal behavior and interactions, especially in the context of migratory systems. I am interested in how we can use physiology and morphology as indicators of plastic responses to changing environmental conditions driven by anthropogenic forces. Given the rapid pace of climate change and the noted decline in migratory behavior globally, phenotypic plasticity may be critical for the survival of some species and the stability of communities that are linked by migrant species. I am also a strong proponent of interdisciplinary approaches to, and applications of, scientific research. In 2018, I completed a B.S. in ecology and evolutionary biology and a B.A. in political science. Now entering the second year of my Master’s program, I plan to integrate a conservation framework into my ongoing research on the Eastern migratory monarch butterfly. My thesis project concerns how adult butterfly wing morphology and pigmentation are influenced by environmental conditions during larval development to better understand physiological or mechanical mechanisms behind changes in migratory behavior. I hope to use these experiments also to identify functional tradeoffs related to migratory behavior and further use this knowledge to guide conservation efforts and public education strategies for not only the monarch butterfly, but for migratory species across taxa.



Former Lab Members

Maggie MacPherson (PhD 2017). Currently a postdoctoral researcher at University of Missouri

Alex Ameen (PhD 2017).Currently Postdoctoral Researcher at Nicholls State University, Louisiana.

Sarah Giltz (Ph.D. 2017). Employed at Oceana, Washington DC.

Susan C. Chiasson (Ph.D 2017 Ecotoxicology). Now a visiting Assistant Professor at Loyola University, New Orleans

Kelsie Kelly (4+1 MS Student). Studied the effects of oil on embryonic development in blue crabs. Now attending Law School in New York

Joanna Gyory PhD (Former Postdoctoral researcher). 

Erin Grey, Ph.D. (Former Postdoctoral Researcher). Currently an Assistant Professor at Governors State University.

Bryan J. Sigel, Ph.D. (Former Postdoctoral Researcher). Currently an Assistant Professor at Nevada State College, Las Vegas.

Andrew J. Laughlin, Ph.D.  (PhD 2015).  Currently an Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.

Jessica R. Henkel, Ph.D.  (PhD 2015).  Currently Ecosystem Science Specialist the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, New Orleans.

Dan Coleman (Former Undergraduate; honors student). Currently a PhD student at Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences

Kyle Coblentz (Former Undergraduate; honors student): Currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Oregon.

Rosalyn Rael (Former Postdoctoral Researcher)