Ecology and Management

My research centers on plant biogeography and floristics and invasive species interactions and management mostly within terrestrial ecosystems. I focus on plant interactions with insects and other plants in regards to establishment and growth, as well as shifts and losses within communities as a result of human-induced disturbances and exotic species introductions. In addition, I'm interested in how physical disturbance and microsite characteristics facilitate invasion and intensify impacts of exotic species in natural communities. As an extension of human-induced disturbances, I'm interested in how land use changes influence plant and insect communities.

Biogeography and Foristics

Bumblebee visiting Pitcher's thistle in Indiana Dunes National LakeshoreWhat physical environmental characteristics (i.e. light, moisture, spatial scale) influence establishment and success of plants? How important are interactions between plants and insects in establishment and success of plants? How do anthropogenic disturbances influence distribution of plants?

This research is conducted in sand dune ecosystems (Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana Dunes State Park, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore) and in hardwood forest fragments in the Midwest. This includes pollinator communities and influence of forest structure on understory plant and insect communities.

Invasive Species Interactions and Management

Prescribed fire at Arrowhead PrairieWhat strategies are effective in managing invasive species? How can anthropogenic disturbances influence the distribution, success, and impacts of invasive species? How do host organisms resist or recover from attack by an invasive species?

Research includes relationships between emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) and ash survival in rural and urban forests (Fraxinus Survival and Mortality model), Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) response to fire in managed prairie fragments, and soil transfer as a method for establishing native seed banks and limiting invasive species growth.


I am interested in the utilization of novel techniques and technologies in the classroom, as well as modifying pedagogical strategies to maximize student learning. Adding student reflection into how they scored on an exam and what factors in their preparation lead to that exam score has been effective in increasing student learning.