Seth Wenger
,IMG_0718 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. Phillip is the joint research coordinator for the  Wenger lab in the River Basin Center and the Rosemond lab here in the Odum School of  Ecology. He makes the world turn ’round. 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. While coordinating most research in the lab, Phillip also oversees the macroinvertebrate portion of a project investigating how different flow conditions affect ecosystem structure and function, including, stream metabolism, nutrient retention, and secondary production. Additionally, he oversees a project that monitors fish populations in the Etowah and Conasauga rivers that aims to determine how species of interests are changing over time. Phillip is also working on a project focused on 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 plans to study the ecological impacts of nine-banded armadillos on barrier islands using historical data, game cameras and mark recapture methodologies.

caitlinCaitlin Conn, PhD Student (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.

duncanDuncan Elkins, Postdoctoral Associate. Duncan Elkins joined the River Basin Center in 2015 to develop a synthesis of conservation plans for aquatic biodiversity in the Southeast.  He studied the effects of rainbow trout stocking on native fishes for his PhD (Fisheries, 2010) from the Warnell School at UGA.  His other research interests include climate change effects on freshwater systems and the aggregate effects of dams and small barriers such as road crossings on freshwater habitat connectivity. 

gregGreg 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.

emily1Emily 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.

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.

podo_tallassee_jonJon Skaggs, Master’s Student. Jon was recently a field technician in the Wenger Lab and a former Odum undergraduate. He is broadly interested in human impacts on stream habitat.


edstoweEd Stowe, PhD Student (co-advised by Mary Freeman). I am a PhD student in the Odum School of Ecology. Prior to coming to UGA, I received my B.S. at Yale University in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and subsequently worked for various conservation, sustainability, and resource management entities. I am interested in how disturbances, particularly anthropogenic ones, affect stream fish populations and communities, especially when processes like persistence and colonization are altered. Ultimately, I hope to conduct research that will inform the conservation of imperiled fishes.

sameeraSameera 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 outreac


Isabel Evelyn, I am a fourth-year student double majoring in Ecology and Anthropology. I am interested in fish and stream ecology. I am currently working on the Middle Oconee Flow project with Caitlin Conn, and I have just started an independent research project examining the effects of flow on stream community dynamics. This work is being done with the assistance of Amy Rosemond, Mary Freeman,  Phillip Bumpers, and Caitlin Conn.

*** Former Lab Folks ***

Postdoctoral Associates:

Doug Leasure, former Postdoctoral Associate. Doug is now a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Southhampton in England. 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:

johnspencerJohn 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