Ecology and Management

My research centers on plant distributions, invasive species, and stress responses, 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, insect, and algal communities.

Ecology and Distribution

Bumblebee visiting Pitcher's thistle in Indiana Dunes National LakeshoreWhat are the most important insect interactions with plant establishiment and success? What physical characteristics influence establishment and success of plants? How do anthropogenic disturbances influence plant distributions?

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.

Management and Interactions

Prescribed fire at Arrowhead PrairieWhat strategies are effective in managing invasive species? How can anthropogenic disturbances influence the distribution, success, and impact of invasive species

Research includes relationships between emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) and ash survival in rural and urban forests (Fraxinus Survival and Mortality model), as well as Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) response to fire in managed prairie fragments.

Environmental Stress

Declining ash tree in Foster ParkWhat are growth response do different plants exhibit under environmental stress?

Environmental stress research in the lab has been related to invasive species response to drought and shade, as well as turfgrass management with natural fertilizers.


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.