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.


Rosalyn Rael, PhD

Rosalyn Rael (Postdoctoral researcher). I am a mathematical biologist interested in the evolution of ecosystem structure and the impacts of the confluence of humans and natural ecosystems on patterns of species abundance and diversity. My previous researched has focused on the dynamics and evolution of competition and predator-prey relationships using networks, differential and difference equations, stochastic models, and evolutionary game theory. Currently, my work involves modeling the dynamics of a pathogen reservoir host species to assess changes in the distribution of human exposure risk through time, as well as the societal and ecological impacts of intervention and control strategies. 

Susan C. Chiasson (PhD Candidate). I am an interdisciplinary PhD student in EEB and Chemistry. I am interested in marine toxicology, and I am currently investigating effects of some commonly found pollutants on the Blue crab in the Gulf of Mexico. I like to combine field work, lab-controlled experiments and analytical methods in my work.

Sarah Giltz (PhD Candidate). I’m interested in marine invertebrate ecology, particularly for fishery species at the larval stage while part of the zooplankton community. My dissertation investigates the development of early life stages of the blue crab under anthropogenic stressors including oil exposure and ocean acidification. I’m also exploring the larval dispersal patterns of the blue crab in the Gulf of Mexico using an oceanographic particle-tracking model.

Alex Ameen (PhD Candidate). I am interested in the biological and ecological processes associated with land building and wetland development in southern Louisiana, especially in the context of coastal restoration.  My Ph.D. thesis will explore patterns of succession, competition, and biomass allocation by plants in emergent Louisiana wetlands and their effects on soil stability and resistance to erosion. I will use these findings to predict land change by adapting and improving the computer models used in the State of Louisiana’s Comprehensive 50-Year Master Plan for Coastal Restoration.

Maggie MacPherson (PhD Candidate). I am interested in the mechanistic drivers of migration in passerine birds. My thesis will test hypotheses for the evolution of migration by contrasting different types of migrants within the Tyrannus (Kingbird) genus. My fieldwork is focused in northern South America, with field sites in Colombia, Venezuela, and Guyana studying the physiology of migratory and resident subspecies of Fork-tailed Flycatchers (Tyrannus savana). During the off-season I can be found doing morphometric measurements of museum specimens or analyzing geolocator data gathered from the Aves Internacionales collaboration. My ultimate goal is to better understand how seasonal pressures can affect migratory bird populations so that we can better understand how to protect them. To learn more, please visit my website!


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.

Former Lab Members

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.  (Former PhD Student).  Currently an Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.

Jessica R. Henkel, Ph.D.  (Former PhD Student).  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.