People

Principal investigator

Max C. N. Castorani

Education:
2014 Ph.D. Ecology, University of California, Davis and San Diego State University
2008 B.S. Evolution & Ecology, Ohio State University

Appointments:
2017–Present. Assistant Professor, University of Virginia
2014–2017. Postdoctoral Scholar, University of California, Santa Barbara

Curriculum vitae

Email: castorani@virginia.edu

Postdoctoral scholars

Maowei Liang

Education:
2019 Ph.D. Ecology, Inner Mongolia University 
2014 M.S. Ecology, Inner Mongolia University 
2010 B.A. Landscape Architecture, Inner Mongolia University for Nationalities

Appointments:
2019–2021. Postdoctoral Scholar, Peking University
2018–2019. Assistant Research Scientist, University of Arizona

Research interests: biodiversity, community and ecosystem ecology, grasslands, global change, plant and soil ecology, rangeland management, restoration ecology

Email: yhb4ej@virginia.edu
Website: 
https://maowei-liang.weebly.com/

Rachel S. Smith

NatureNet Science Fellow (The Nature Conservancy)

Education:
2019 Ph.D. Ecology, University of Georgia
2010 B.A. Biological Sciences, Northwestern University

Research interests: habitat restoration, coastal community ecology, invasive species, ecosystem engineers, conservation, science communication

Email: rss2jj@virginia.edu
Website:
https://rachelssmith.weebly.com

Graduate students

Billie Beckley

Ph.D. student (at UC Santa Barbara; primary advisor: Robert Miller)

Education:
2020 M.S. Ecology, San Diego State University
2014 B.S. Environmental Science, Dickinson College

Research interests: marine ecology, conservation, disturbance ecology, kelp forests, primary producers

Email: billiebeckley@ucsb.edu 

Lauren E. Brideau

Ph.D. student

Education:
2020 B.S. Environmental Systems & Sustainability Studies, Southern Connecticut State Univ.

Research interests: community ecology, restoration, ecosystem function, seagrass meadows, coastal dynamics

Email: lbrideau@virginia.edu

Michael R. Cornish

Ph.D. student

Education:
2019 B.A. Human Ecology (Ecology/Evolution), College of the Atlantic

Research interests: foundation species, community ecology, coastal ecology, UAS imagery

Email: mcornish@virginia.edu

 

Sean Hardison

Ph.D. student

Education:
2017 M.S. Biology, University of North Carolina Wilmington
2014 B.S. Biology, Pennsylvania State University

Research interests: marine community ecology, fisheries ecology, ecosystem based fisheries management, ecological modeling

Email: sh5rs@virginia.edu
Website: 
https://github.com/seanhardison1/

Ethan Kadiyala

Ph.D. student

Education:
2020 B.S. Environmental Studies & Physical Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara

Research interests: conservation science, coastal ecology, biogeography, biological oceanography, marine community ecology

Email: ekadiyala@virginia.edu

Kinsey N. Tedford

Ph.D. candidate
Jefferson Scholars Foundation Fellow and Virginia Sea Grant Graduate Research Fellow

Education:
2018 M.S. Biology, University of Central Oklahoma
2015 B.S. Biology, University of Central Oklahoma

Research interests: marine ecology, population dynamics, predator-prey interactions, restoration science, oyster reefs

Email: ktedford@virginia.edu
Website: https://kinseytedford.github.io/

Undergraduate students

Connor Dooren

Research Technician (2021–2022)
Education: 2023 B.S. Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia
Research interests: coastal ecology, conservation

Jesus Neyra

Research Technician (2021–2022)
Education: 2023 B.A. Environmental Sciences and B.A. Biology, University of Virginia
Research interests: marine biology, coral reef restoration, coastal ecology, sustainability, microplastics, biomedical regenerative and stem cell studies

Olivia Redding

Research Technician (2019–2022)
Education: 2023 B.S. Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia
Research interests: marine biology, global sustainability

Kay Schlachter

Research Technician (2020–2021); Virginia Coast Reserve LTER REU (2021); Distinguished Majors Program (2021–2022)
Education: 2022 B.S. Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia
Research interests: marine ecology, plant ecology, conservation

Miriam Wanner

Research Technician (2021); Senior Thesis (2021–2023)
Education: 2023 B.S. Computer Science and B.S. Mathematics, University of Virginia
Research interests: quantitative ecology, synchrony

Camille Wilson

Research Technician (2019–2021); Distinguished Majors Program (2021–2022)
Education: 2022 B.S. Environmental Sciences and B.S. Biology, University of Virginia
Research interests: marine and coastal ecology, conservation

Lab alumni

  • Maddy Ross. Research Technician (2019–2021). Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia.
  • Selina Cheng. Research Technician (2020–2021); Virginia Coast Reserve LTER REU (2019); Distinguished Majors Program (2020–2021)Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia. “Blue crab spatial patterns across a seagrass landscape.”
  • Sarah Lang. Virginia Space Grant Consortium REU (2019); Distinguished Majors Program (2020–2021). Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia. “Modeling coastal water clarity using Landsat-8 and Sentinel-2.”
  • Elizabeth Eareckson. Research Technician (2019–2020). Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia.
  • Shivani Lakshman. Research Technician (2019–2020). Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia.
  • Jun DeBus. Research Technician (2018–2020). Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia.
  • Carrie Wentzel. Research Technician (2018–2020); Senior Thesis (2019–2020). Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia. “Spatial variation in seagrass recovery following habitat restoration.”
  • Sophia Rosenberg. Research Technician (2018–2020); Distinguished Majors Program (2020). Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia. “Biodiversity of oyster reef invertebrates at the Virginia Coast Reserve.”
  • Elizabeth Daly. Research Technician (2018–2019); Virginia Coast Reserve LTER REU (2018). Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia. “Spatial distributions of large invertebrate consumers across a seagrass landscape.”
  • Samantha Townsend. Research Technician (2018–2019). Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia.
  • Elizabeth Bieri. Virginia Coast Reserve LTER REU (2018). Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia. “Effects of seagrass landscape structure on the growth of hard clams, Mercenaria mercenaria.”
  • Taylor Traxler. Honors Thesis (2015–2017). Santa Barbara Coastal LTER, University of California, Santa Barbara. “Disturbance frequency structures ecological communities in Santa Barbara kelp forests.”
  • Taylor Simpkins. Research Technician (2012–2013). Coastal and Marine Institute, San Diego State University. “The effects of the exotic Asian mussel on the resilience of eelgrass to disturbance.”
  • Elizabeth Travis. Honors Thesis (2012–2013). Coastal and Marine Institute, San Diego State University. “Stable isotopes as a tool to trace California spiny lobster food webs.”
  • Cristina Lever. Research Technician (2011–2012). Coastal and Marine Institute, San Diego State University. “Effects of native predator chemical cues on anti-predation behaviors in an invasive marine bivalve.”
  • Olivia Turnross. Research Technician (2010). Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California, Davis. “Interactions between eelgrass Zostera marina and ghost shrimp Neotrypaea californiensis.”