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. 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 Student (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. 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.

Picture1Doug Leasure, Postdoctoral Associate. Doug joined the Wenger lab in summer 2015 to work on our NASA-funded Salmonid Population Viability Project developing a spatio-temporal population viability model (ST-PVM) for federally threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout.  ST-PVM is a new class of population viability assessment that uses hierarchical Bayesian models to incorporate data from multiple populations simultaneously, borrowing from data-rich populations for inferences in data-poor populations.  Doug received his PhD in biology from the University of Arkansas in 2014.  His research interests have included ecological responses to hydrologic alteration in the Ozark-Ouachita Interior Highlands,  developing  an automated system for multi-scale GIS data collection (Geodata Crawler), and conservation of the endangered American burying beetle.

podo_tallassee_jonJon Skaggs, Field Technician. Jon is recent graduate of Odum’s undergraduate program and is currently a field technician in the Wenger Lab. He is broadly interested in human impacts on stream habitat and plans to enroll in graduate school to pursue a Master’s degree in 2018.

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.

WheelerPhotoKit Wheeler, Postdoctoral Associate (co-mentored by Mary Freeman, USGS). Kit joined the Wenger lab in summer 2015 to examine responses of Southeastern stream fishes to hydrologic variability using dynamic occupancy models. He received his PhD from Utah State University in 2014 and his general research interests include the functional roles of migratory freshwater species, the conservation of threatened and endangered species, and biotic responses to changing environmental conditions.

Carol Yang, Master’s Student in Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development. 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.

Michael Bell. 
I am a fourth year student with the B.S. Ecology program. I switched to Ecology in my third year from Cellular Biology, where I worked under Dr. Rada on the use of nuetrophils to regulate cystic fibrosis symptoms. I’m mostly interested in disease ecology and sustainability/conservation. I am now working with Caitlin Conn on her PhD Middle Oconee Project.

Dinah Carlton.dinah-bio-pic I am a junior Water and Soil Resources major in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. My general interests are chemistry and conservation, and I am looking to get more experience in the field and the lab. Currently, I am working with PhD student Caitlin Conn on the Middle Oconee Flow Ecology Project.

Isabel Evelyn. I am a third year double majoring in Ecology and Anthropology. I am interested in fish and stream ecology, and lately I can be found having way too much fun working on the Middle Oconee Flow project with Caitlin Conn.

Noah Felsberg.noah I am a fourth year student at UGA double majoring in Ecology and Classical Languages. I am generally interested in freshwater ecosystems and conservation. I care a lot about sustainable water use practices, and I hope to use my time in the lab to learn as much as I can about this. I am currently working with Phillip Bumpers on the macroinvertebrate portion of the Middle Oconee Flow project.

Madeline McDonald. madelineMadeline is a fourth year undergraduate pursuing a double major in Biology and Ecology. She is interested in coldwater stream and lake ecology and would someday like to study glaciers.

Andres Santana. I am a fourth-year student Majoring in Ecology. My interests are in conservation ecology and studying the impact of human activities on natural systems. I think that through a deeper understanding of our natural systems people will not only be able to better themselves but the planet as well.

Emma Spiegel. Emma Spiegel is a third-year undergraduate pursuing a major in Ecology and minors in Anthropology and Environmental Health Science. Emma is interested in ecosystem ecology and is currently working with Phillip Bumpers on a project focused on urban streams.

Marisa ValeCruz. marisa-bio-picI am a fourth year Ecology major, minoring in Spanish and pursuing a certificate in Water Resources.  I would love to study the health and distribution of water as a resource around the world, and I hope to use my Spanish minor in conjunction with Ecology in the future. I am currently working with Caitlin Conn on the Middle Oconee Flow Ecology Project, and also with Dr. Kyle McKay from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a sustainability initiative.

Hannah Yarbrough. I am a fourth-year ecology student at UGA. I am most interested in aquatic ecosystems and conservation. I love being outdoors and can often be spotted searching for interesting critters. I am currently working with master’s student, Emily Johnson, on urban stream ecology. I hope to use this lab experience to further my skills and create opportunities for future research. My goals are to one day have my research contribute to environmental policy and stumble upon an undiscovered species. 


Former Lab Folks:

Carter Coleman, former undergrad technician.

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.

Callee Manna, former undergrad technician.

Kelly Peterson, 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 Jill Anderson.

Samantha Siragusa, former undergrad technician.

Sydney Williams, former undergrad intern.


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.