Seth Wenger, Principal Investigator. Seth is an assistant 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.

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.

Zach Butler, Master’s Student.  Zach was born and raised in Colorado, where he received his degree in Environmental Biology from Fort Lewis College in 2014. Zach has conducted field work in Coloardo, Georgia, and internationally, including a season conducting behavioral studies on white rhino and giraffe at game reserves in South Africa, and a season working on a sea turtle hatchery project on the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. Most recently, Zach finished serving his third six-month term as an AmeriCorps research member at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. At the center, Zach worked extensively on the loggerhead sea turtle nesting project, but also helped with multiple other research projects, including work on diamondback terrapins, gopher tortoises, American alligators, and small mammals. Zach is currently enrolled in the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia, where he is pursuing his degree in Conservation Ecology & Sustainable Development. For Zach’s master’s thesis, he is studying the ecological impacts of nine-banded armadillos on barrier islands using historical data, game cameras and mark recapture methodologies.


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.


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.


Emily Johnson, Master’s Student (co-advised by Amy Rosemond). Emily joined the Wenger lab in 2016 to pursue a Master’s in Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development after receiving a B.S. in Conservation Biology at Kansas State University. At K-State, she was involved in research that investigated fish and macroinvertebrate community responses to climate change-induced wildfires in the southwestern U.S. Her current research interests are centered on urban watershed management, specifically as it relates to water quality in urban streams. Emily is currently working on a project within Athens-Clark County to examine the influence of urban inputs on the conductivity of local streams and the macroinvertebrate communities within them.

Maxwell Kleinhans, Research Technician. Max received his bachelor’s degree in Biological Aspects of Conservation and Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  He’s contributed to research on nutrient cycling in northern Wisconsin bog lakes, zebra mussel control in Minnesota, management of salmonids in Wyoming, and sturgeon population monitoring in Georgia and Florida. Max is generally interested in using computer modeling and automation to facilitate research on the ecology of non-game, imperiled, and invasive fishes.

Jace Nelson, Research Professional. Jace is coordinating a 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 recently completed a MS in fisheries at the Warnell School of Natural Resources where he investigated biological and immunological aspects of the host relationship between freshwater mussels and fish. Jace’s professional interests are generally focused on the conservation of imperiled fishes, mussels, and other aquatic taxa.

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.


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.


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, Master’s Student in Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development (co-advised by Scott Connelly). 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 Master’s in Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development. Carol is broadly interested in stream ecology, as well as environmental education and outreach.


Chaya James, undergraduate assistant. Chaya is a  second-year student working on an A.B in Ecology. She is interested in expanding her knowledge in marine, tropical, stream and forest ecology with an emphasis on environmental education. She works with Caitlin Conn.

Karissa McFadden, undergraduate assistant. Karissa is a third-year student majoring in Wildlife Biology with a minor in Ecology. She has previous experience working with animals at Bear Hallow Zoo, Busch Gardens, and Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. Karissa is excited to expand her knowledge in wildlife conservation, especially in southeastern snakes. She is currently working with Zach Butler, and is focusing on the commensal usage of armadillo burrows by snakes.

Andrew Bennett, undergraduate assistant. Andrew is a 4th-year undergraduate double majoring in Ecology and Biology. He is currently working with Zach Butler to investigate commensal armadillo burrow usage and is interested specifically in investigating the overnight denning habits of Virginia opossums in armadillo burrows.

Jenny Sycamore, undergraduate assistant. Jenny is a fifth-year senior majoring in Ecology. She is interested in wildlife biology and coastal ecology and have experience with Southeastern marsh systems and wetlands. Jenny is currently assisting on Zach Butler’s project focusing on ecological impacts of nine-banded armadillo on the barrier islands. Jenny is specifally focused on completing her own independent research about the use of burrows by Eastern Kingsnakes.

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:


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.

Kelly Petersen, former Supertechnician. We never figured out exactly what to call Kelly, who was much more than a technician. She’s now a PhD student in Ecology with John Wares.

Undergraduate Assistants and Interns: Sydney Williams, Samantha Siragusa, Callee Manna, Carter Coleman, Marisa ValeCruz, Emma Spiegel, Noah Felsberg, Hannah Yarbrough, , Dinah Carlton, Madeline McDonald, Michael Bell, Gabby Gravel, Mary Hunt, Andres Santana, and Isabel Evelyn.