Educational Background

Ph.D. GEOGRAPHY, Northern Illinois University (2015)

Dissertation Title: Ecological and Evolutionary Invasion Dynamics of Lonicera maackii (Amur Honeysuckle) in Relation to White Oak Savanna Restoration Management at Nachusa Grasslands, Illinois, USA.

This interdisciplinary research explores the ecological impacts and underlying evolutionary mechanisms associated with the spread of Lonicera maackii (Amur honeysuckle), one of the most aggressive and abundant invasive species throughout the Midwest United States. The main goal of this research is to better understand how the encroachment of Amur honeysuckle impacts the Midwest native Quercus alba (white oak) population in a Nature Conservancy oak savanna restoration project (Nachusa Grasslands) located in Lee County, Illinois, USA, with particular focus on mechanisms required for successful oak regeneration and recruitment (i.e. carbon assimilation, soil quality, soil moisture/ temperature, and plant available nutrients). This work also aims to explore the spatial-temporal long-distance dispersal patterns of Amur honeysuckle, as inferred by population genetics, in order to better understand the mechanisms and pathways by which Amur honeysuckle is spreading throughout Illinois.

Research on this topic is on-going. If it interests you, contact me.

M.S. GEOGRAPHY, Northern Illinois University (2009)

Thesis Title: Geographic Variations in Seed Germination, Seedling Growth, and Mortality of Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) Under Different Temperature and Climatic Regimes: Results of Common Garden and Reciprocal Dispersal Experiments.

Graduate Emphasis and Certificate: Biogeography; GIS Graduate Certificate with an Environmental Emphasis

As climate changes, the persistence and successful migration of sugar maple (Acer saccharum) at its northern range will become increasingly significant. Therefore, this study addressed two main questions: (1) whether sugar maple germination, and subsequent growth and mortality rates, showed evidence of geographic variations in response to current climatic conditions and (2) how temperatures within and above its optimal germination temperature range affected sugar maple germination. In the end, prospects for sugar maple at its northern limit is questionable given that the northern seeds’ initial establishment was significantly reduced and the subsequent seedling mortality rates were significantly increased in the slightly warmer central habitat. Lab results show that the optimal germination temperature of sugar maple may be higher than formerly thought. Ultimately, this study further enhances the understanding of how predicted anthropogenic climate change may affect the regeneration viability and conservation of sugar maple in the future.

B.S. GEOGRAPHY, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (2006)

Undergraduate Minor and Certificate: Biology; GIS Undergraduate Certificate