People

Seth Wenger, Principal Investigator. Seth is an associate professor in the Odum School of Ecology and serves as the Director of Science for the UGA River Basin Center. He earned a PhD in Ecology from UGA in 2006 and spent a little over five years as a staff scientist with the nonprofit Trout Unlimited before returning to UGA in 2014 (yes, I know that doesn’t quite add up). For more info and less blurry pictures, click here.

Anna Baynes, Master’s Student in Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development. Anna received her B.S. in Environmental Sciences from Elon University. After graduating, Anna worked at UGA Marine Extension as a Marine Education Fellow where she did aquarium husbandry and taught a variety of classes, her favorite being estuary trawls. She also worked at the Oyster Hatchery and the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography studying marine microbes. Anna then worked at the UGA Savannah River Ecology Lab as a research technician studying the spread of rabies in wildlife. Anna is interested in studying freshwater ecology; specifically, fish ecology focusing on diversity, hydrologic alterations, and other anthropogenic impacts to improve conservation efforts.  

Phillip Bumpers, Lab Coordinator, PhD Student (co-advised by Amy Rosemond). Phillip is the joint research coordinator for the  Wenger lab in the River Basin Center and the Rosemond lab in the Odum School of  Ecology. Phillip received his MS in ecology at the Odum School in Dr. Rosemond’s lab where he studied how nutrient enrichment altered the growth and diet of larval salamanders. He leads a several projects that monitors fish populations in the Etowah and Conasauga rivers that aims to determine how populations of species of interests are changing over time. He has also been heavily involved in several other projects in the lab investigating flow ecology relationships of ecosystem processes and drivers and patterns of conductivity in urban streams. Phillip is broadly interested in how global change affects stream ecosystem structure and function with a particular interest in nutrient enrichment, climate change, and urbanization.

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Caitlin Conn, PhD Candidate (co-advised by Amy Rosemond). Caitlin received her B.A. from Hendrix College with majors in Biology and Religious Studies, and went on to hold a variety of conservation, environmental education, and academic research positions with state agencies, nonprofits, and universities. Caitlin is broadly interested in how human activities, especially management practices, impact freshwater ecosystems and how scientific research can be used to better inform these management practices. Her current research aims to quantify the effects of different flow conditions, and thus different management strategies, on the key ecological functions of stream metabolism and nutrient retention. Specifically, she is examining how changes in primary production, as a response to varying flow conditions, affects these ecological functions.

Kyle Connelly, Master’s Student (co-advised by Amy Rosemond). Originally from Northeast Ohio, Kyle earned his B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Resources from West Virginia University and has worked on a number of water quality monitoring projects for both watershed NGOs and a regional government agency.  After graduating, Kyle spent two years in the Philippines as a Coastal Resource Management Volunteer with the Peace Corps, where he facilitated the collection of local environmental data and helped write a five-year management plan for the area.  Kyle is most interested in examining how effective current watershed management strategies are in achieving their desired ecological outcomes and how resilient these systems are under changing socio-ecological conditions.

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Greg Jacobs, PhD Candidate (co-advised by Craig Osenberg). I joined the Wenger lab as a PhD student in 2015 to investigate patterns and variation in fish migration and life history in large inland aquatic systems (i.e. lakes and river networks). I have a BS in Biology from Alma College, a MS in Resource Ecology and Management from the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Michigan, and I recently completed a three hour tour as a fish biologist for the US Fish and Wildlife Service (read: 4 years, and a lot of fun counting and tracking fish). My general research interests include fish life history, movement, and migration; how the combination of fish movement and life history may influence aquatic community and ecosystem processes; and the interaction of these traits and processes with anthropogenic factors, from overfishing and habitat fragmentation to conservation and restoration.



Jon Skaggs, Master’s Student. Jon is a former Wenger Lab field technician and Odum undergraduate. Jon is broadly interested in landscape ecology approaches to assessment, monitoring, and conservation of biodiversity. More specifically, Jon is interested in understanding landscape scale patterns and processes that drive species distributions and applications to conservation such as systematic spatial conservation prioritization.

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Ed Stowe, PhD Student (co-advised by Mary Freeman). Ed received a B.S. at Yale University in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and subsequently worked for various conservation, sustainability, and resource management entities. He is interested in quantitative research that is motivated by aquatic conservation questions. Current projects include assessing the pattern and scale of fish declines to understand the underlying causes of these declines, examining how the population response of fishes to stream discharge variability is mediated by traits and context, and determining whether stream restoration practices enhance the abundance and diversity of fishes.

Shishir Rao, PhD student. Shishir is an engineer-turned-ecologist interested in hydrology, freshwater ecology and watershed management of tropical river ecosystems. Broadly, his research focus is on understanding how altered hydrology affects ecology-flow relationships and how reservoirs can be better managed to restore hydrological connectivity and incorporate downstream socio-ecological demands. His past research in the Western Ghats of India dealt with a) understanding the socio-ecological and hydrological impacts of small hydro power projects and 2) quantifying the degree and extent of hydrological alteration by large dams with a focus on developing environmental flows. At the University of Georgia, Shishir is enrolled as a PhD student under the Integrative conservation and ecology program.

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Sameera Talati Gujarathi, PhD Student (co-advised by Susana Ferreira). I have worn several hats in my professional career so far. From being an engineer working in the power sector in India, to being a marketing executive and business development manager working in the remote farms of Southeast Asia, India and China to working as an business analyst in the mature biotech industry in Denmark and North America, my varied work experiences drew me back to academics. I am drawn to investigate the interplay between development and environmental degradation or conservation. With a background in Economics from UGA and now as a PhD student with ICON and the Odum school of Ecology, my research focuses on investigating the trade-offs between growth and conservation, socio-economic and ecological impacts of economic growth, and how development shapes conservation attitudes. As a mother of two children who will probably see a very altered world by the time they reach adulthood, sustainable growth is something I care about deeply and I hope my research will address those kind of issues.

Carol Yang, PhD student. Carol received her B.S. in Environmental Sciences from the University of Virginia. She worked on lakes in northern Wisconsin, participating in comparative lake surveys and whole-ecosystem experiments to research aquatic-terrestrial linkages. Carol went on to work in Costa Rica for several years, as the Environmental Education coordinator at a K-11 school and program coordinator at a Sustainability Demonstration Center. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Ecology, focusing on the role of freshwater crabs in tropical streams. Carol is broadly interested in stream ecology, as well as environmental education and outreach.

Former Lab Folks

Postdoctoral Associates:

Duncan Elkins, former Postdoctoral Associate. Duncan is now a Lecturer in the Warnell School, just on the other side of the turtle pond at UGA. 

Doug Leasure, former Postdoctoral Associate. Doug is now a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Southhampton in England, just on the other side of the bigger pond. He is also the founder of  Geodata Crawler, a nonprofit that provides an automated system for multi-scale GIS data collection.

Kit Wheeler, former Postdoctoral Associate. Kit is now an Assistant Professor at Tennessee Tech.

Graduate Students:

Zach Butler, Master’s Student.  Zach graduated in May, 2020 with a MS degree in Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development. His thesis examined the ecological impacts of nine-banded armadillos on barrier islands. Zach now works for the University of Florida Croc Docs, based out of the Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center.

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Emily Johnson, Master’s Student (co-advised by Amy Rosemond). Emily graduated in 2020 with an MS degree in Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development. Her thesis focused on patterns of aquatic conductivity in urban streams in the Athens area, and the use of conductivity as a real-time monitoring tool. She now works with the consulting firm Tetra Tech in Atlanta.

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John Spencer, former MS student (co-advised by Amy Rosemond). John Kyle Spencer, the first graduate student in the Wenger lab, died unexpectedly in January 2016. He was an extraordinary individual loved for his humor, generosity, energy, enthusiasm, and kindness. He studied urban streams and was passionate about freshwater ecology, conservation and ecological restoration. His legacy is honored by the John Spencer Fellowships and the John Spencer Graduate Student Small Grants.

Lab Personnel:

Megan Hagler, former Lab Coordinator. Megan pretty much ran the fish ecology side of the River Basin Center for a decade and a half. She’s now doing amazing things in Portland.

Maxwell Kleinhans, former Research Technician. Max contributed to numerous projects and led the construction of an integrated database of aquatic species collections for Georgia. He is now pursuing a master’s degree at the Warnell School.

Jace Nelson, former Research Professional. Jace coordinated a very large research project with the Georgia Department of Transportation to examine and improve special provisions placed on stream crossing construction projects for the protection of imperiled aquatic species. He now works as a freshwater mussel propagation biologist at the Virginia Fisheries and Aquatic Wildlife Center in Charles City, VA

Kelly Petersen, former technician. Kelly worked on numerous projects, including leading the writing of a paper on homogenization of Southern Appalachian fish communties. She’s now a PhD student in Ecology with John Wares.

Undergraduate Assistants and Interns:

Michael Bell, Andrew Bennett, Dinah Carlton, Carter Coleman, Maggie England-Johns, Isabel Evelyn, Noah Felsberg, Gabby Gravel, Mary Hunt, Chaya James, Callee Manna, Madeline McDonald, Karissa McFadden, Andres Santana, Samantha Siragusa, Emma Spiegel, Jenny Sycamore, Marisa ValeCruz, Sydney Williams and Hannah Yarbrough.