Graduate Students

If you are interested in applying to join the lab as a Master’s student, please email me directly. It is very helpful if you include a brief description of your research interests and experience, along with an academic transcript. I will be happy to schedule a phone call or an in-person meeting if I have space for incoming students.

Former and current graduate students are listed below.

Sean Callahan (current student) came to the lab from the University of Michigan, having worked with Dr. Alison Davis Rabosky in the UMMZ Research Museum Collection. He will be working with museum samples to determine whether chytridiomycosis may have contributed to widespread extirpation of leopard frogs on the east coast.


Michelle Souza (current student) was an undergraduate at EMU who stayed on as a Master’s student. Her work focuses on a very isolated population of marbled salamanders on Kelleys Island, in Lake Erie. I obtained genetic samples from this population early in graduate school, and Michelle will be resampling it and conducting mark-recapture analysis to document any changes in population size.


Molly Dixon (current student) came to the lab from Ohio State University and an internship at The Wilds. Molly’s thesis research uses DNA barcoding of snake feces to ascertain diet differences between snakes living in urban and rural environments. Molly is currently finishing her data analysis and writing up her thesis.


Lizzie Rock (current student) worked on assessment of stress response (corticosterone) in snakes living in urban versus rural environments. Lizzie is now working with the Washtenaw County Health Department and finishing writing up her thesis.


Kelsey Mitchell (M.S. August 2020) was an undergraduate researcher in the lab who decided to stay on for her Master’s. For her thesis, she assessed temporal changes in unisexual Ambystoma salamander populations. She used light microscopy to analyze historical museum samples (determining ploidy using skin cell nuclei size), and genetic analysis to genotype current day samples. Her results suggest that population composition may have changed substantially in the last 30 years or so, from A. laterale-dominated to unisexual-dominated. We are happy to have Kelsey back at EMU as a lecturer in Biology.


Jeff Bartman (M.S. December 2019) worked on demography and conservation genetics of garter and brown snakes along an urban-rural gradient. He came to EMU from Grand Valley State University, where he worked with Dr. Jen Moore and published his undergraduate research on survey methods for massasauga rattlesnakes. Jeff is currently writing his Master’s work up for publication.


Jenny Sutherland (M.S. April 2019)
worked on occupancy modeling and eDNA assessment of mudpuppy salamanders in southeast Michigan. She came to the lab from a fisheries research position with the USGS Great Lakes Science Center after completing her undergraduate degree at Grand Valley State University. Jenny’s work was recently accepted for publication in Herpetologica. Following grad school, Jenny has worked as a research technician headstarting Hellbenders at The Wilds and with Dr. Rod Williams at Purdue University.


Amber Stedman (M.S. December 2016) came to the lab after doing undergraduate research with Dr. Rich King at Northern Illinois University. She defended her thesis on phylogeography of the mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus) in December 2016, and her work was recently included in a publication in the Journal of Herpetology. Amber went on to do a second Master’s in Immunology, and teaches at Elgin Community College.


Patrick Terry (M.S. December 2015) came to the lab from Ohio University, and was interested in conservation genetics of turtles. His thesis, titled “Elucidating the Status of Michigan’s Red-Eared Slider Turtle: A Phylogeographic Approach,” used genetic methods to assess whether Red-Eared Sliders are native or introduced in Michigan. He graduated in December 2015 and went on to work for Ann Arbor Natural Areas Preservation as the City Herpetologist. Patrick is now a wildlife biologist working with pronghorn antelope in Arizona.


Christina (Casto) Teltser (M.S. December 2013) was my first graduate student, coming to the lab from West Virginia University. She completed her Master’s degree in December 2013 with a thesis entitled: “Survivorship of Ploidy-Variable Unisexual Ambystoma Salamanders Across Developmental Stages.” Her thesis research was subsequently published in Herpetologica. Christina went on to work as a restoration biologist at the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest and is now a high school biology teacher in Louisville, KY.

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