Researcher Profiles

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John B. Pascarella

Plant Ecology

Professor & Dean, College of Science & Engineering Technology
PhD, University of Miami

Research Interests: Plant demography, rare and endangered plant conservation, plant-pollinator interactions, and forest dynamics.

Chad W. Hargrave

Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Biological Sciences
Aquatic Ecology and Fish Conservation
Ph.D., University of Oklahoma

Research Interests:  I use general ecological theory spanning the hierarchy levels of ecology to address contemporary issues in aquatic ecology and biodiversity conservation. For example, in my research I use organismal-level theory (e.g., metabolic theory, natural selection, etc.), population-level theory (dynamic modeling, etc.), community-level theory (e.g., food web modeling, etc.), and ecosystem-level theory (e.g., ecological stoichiometry) to understand the link between organism distribution/abundance to abiotic and biotic context of aquatic ecosystems. My goal is to help generate general models that may be used to predict how ecosystem change (anthropogenic or natural) may affect aquatic biodiversity and ecosystem processes at local and regional scales. I have used this approach to contribute to general theoretical issues in ecology as well as tackle specific applied conservation issues for endangered species managers.

Sibyl Rae Bucheli

Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences
Ph.D., The Ohio State University

Research Interests: As a researcher of entomology, I am particularly interested in systematics of our disappearing planetary biodiversity -- those invertebrate lineages which are numerically the greatest yet remain the least well-understood to science. Systematic studies naturally lend themselves to studies of behavioral and ecological evolution, and are, I believe, the very backbone necessary for such work. My research is multidimensional fold but united in the commonality of the study of basic biodiversity and evolutionary research, in particular, the evolution of insect-food selection.

I am interested in the spatial and temporal distributions of insects native to the Pineywoods ecoregions of Texas. I am involved in several biological inventories, including the Thicket of Life Consortium. I am concerned with establishing baseline knowledge of the diversity of insects, but with the idea that these data can be implemented to answer additional questions of distribution and host association, and also operate as gauges of regenerated areas. This area of research holds a great potential for studies of population dynamics and gene flow in insects, a topic that has never been broached before with quantitative methods. 

I'm committed to teaching the scientific method and demonstrating to my students the power they possess through understanding and employing it. In our rapidly changing world, I believe that it is crucial for students to be immersed in nature to gain an appreciation for it. I think that studies of entomology are vital in an undergraduate curriculum because of the profound influence insects have in our daily lives. I feel that the best way for me to teach entomology is to show students that they are a part of nature, not separated from it. I take my students outside for field trips as often as I can. I think entomology is an excellent way to teach students about nature. Insects are ubiquitous. They exhibit behaviors as complicated as a mammal’s. They are present at all times of the year, one just needs to know where to find them. In a half hour tour of my favorite places on campus, we encounter all varieties of insect life, conducting business as though they were in the middle of an untouched forest, from leaf-cutter bees nesting in the ground next to the main library to whirly-gig beetles hunting on the surface of a pond. To be a good teacher, I believe I must be willing to learn along with my students. Nature is dynamic and is as much a learning experience for me as it is for my class. I am as excited as my students when we discover something new; perhaps sometimes more so.

Diane L. Neudorf

Professor, Department of Biological Sciences
Avian behavioral ecology and conservation
Ph.D., York University

Research Interests:  Breeding biology, brood parasitism, predator-prey interactions, urban ecology, and conservation.

William I. Lutterschmidt

Director of Texas Research Institute for Environmental Studies
Physiological Ecology
Ph.D., University of Oklahoma

Research Interests:  Ecology, evolution, comparative physiology, thermal biology, behavioral endocrinology.

Volker Rudolf

Rice University, Associate Professor in BioSciences
105A Anderson Biological Labs

My interests are broad but mainly focus on the ecological and evolutionary factors that determine the structure and dynamics of communities and ecosystem functioning. In my research I combine theoretical and empirical work to develop predictive frameworks for understanding how species interactions and abiotic environmental factors determine the structure and dynamics of communities and how they drive population dynamics and the evolution of complex life histories. Most of my current research focuses on the impact of population size structure, cannibalism and seasonal variation (including climate change) on the structure and dynamics of communities and their evolutionary consequences. This research partly overlaps with my work on the role of infectious diseases in determining the dynamics and structure of populations and communities. Most of my empirical research has been on aquatic systems, including phytotelmata, temporary and permanent ponds and headwater streams, using amphibian and invertebrates as model systems. Currently, I am working in local pond ecosystems in Texas, but my past research was conducted in the tropics in Ivory Coast, West Africa & in the Southern Appalachian.

Aldo Compagnoni

Rice University, Postdoc
119 Anderson Biology Labs

Aldo is a broadly trained plant ecologist whose interests include invasion ecology, climate change, and species coexistence in both grassland and forested ecosystems. Aldo's most recent project investigates how sex-ratio variation affects the population dynamics of the dioecious grass Poa arachnifera (Texas bluegrass).

Eric D. Roth

University of Delaware, Assistant Professor
Director, Neuroscience Major and 4+1 Master's Program
Behavioral Neuroscience
Ph.D., University of Oklahoma
433 Wolf Hall

From mammals to reptiles, Dr. Roth uses a multidisciplinary approach integrating neuroscience and ecological techniques to address questions related to many aspects of animal behavior and cognition with an emphasis on spatial ecology. Where is an organism at a given point in time and why is it there? What navigation mechanisms are used to move from location to location? How is sensory information integrated and processed to influence spatial decision making, perception, learning, and memory? What biological, ecological, neurobiological, cognitive, and evolutionary factors interact to produce spatial behavior? More specifically, in relation to many of these potential factors recent research projects have focused on epigenetic influences, hippocampal place cells, brain lateralization, social interactions, home range properties, and neuro-ecological relationships.


Kaitlen P. Gary, M.S.

Operations Manager
TRIES Aquatics Laboratory

Office:  TRIES 173F
Phone:  (936) 294-2501