Mentor List

Mentor List

Mentor List

Below is the list (in alphabetical order by last name) of graduate student mentors and a brief description of their research and opportunities to participate.  Please see the mentoring program page for details about the program format and goals.  This list is updated at the beginning of each semester (sometimes more frequently).

Graduate students: If you would like to update or add to this page, please contact Kate LeCroy (kal8d@virginia.edu).

Updated September 2018.

Amber Slatosky, Ecology PhD student (ads6d@virginia.edu):

I study how bumble bees respond physiologically and behaviorally to parasitic infections caused by a parasitoid fly (Diptera:Conopidae). Bumble bees are social insects that form colonies each year; queens emerge from hibernation in the spring and found colonies by producing worker bees. The colony grows until the queen produces daughter queens and males. These daughter queens hibernate through the winter until they emerge the following spring to found their own colony. Conopid flies attack bumble bees in the summer while the bees are gathering resources for their colony. The fly lays an egg in the bee and the bee continues to forage. Later, the egg hatches and a larva begins to grow within its bumble bee host. As the fly grows, the bumble bee experiences some changes to how it forages and how long it remains away from the colony. When the larva has finished growing, it causes the host bee to dig into the soil. The larva then pupates and hibernates underground within its host until the following summer.
Mentees working with me will learn: 1) about host-parasite interactions 2) how to identify and safely handle bees 3) how to identify parasites in bees.
Depending on the season, mentees may learn 1) How to use RFID technology 2) How to rear bumblebees in captivity 3) How to test immune function in bees.
In the fall semester, students may gain academic credit assisting in a disease transmission experiment and/or reviewing video data from the summer data collection.
Between Feb-May (spring semester) a mentee would learn how to rear bumble bee colonies in captivity and earn academic credit through observations of colony development. In the summer, students may volunteer at Blandy Experimental Farm and assist in monitoring these colonies as they are exposed to parasites. RFID technology and video monitoring are used to identify changes in bee behavior.

You may determine your own level of involvement in this project– from volunteering a few hours a week to having your own project that uses this study system. I am an experienced mentor.

Allie Parisien, Ecology PhD student (amp2fn@virginia.edu):

I study nutrient cycling over the course of secondary succession. My field work takes place out at Blandy Experimental Farm, where there are chronosequences of early (~15 year old), mid (~30 year old), and late (100+ year old) successional fields. I am hoping to discover how nitrogen cycling changes over the course of land
abandonment and subsequent forest development at Blandy, and how this might play in to the large scale land abandonment on the East Coast over the past few centuries as agriculture has moved westward.

I will mostly need help in the lab grinding leaf and soil samples and tinning them for analysis (no experience in these techniques necessary! I will teach you, and it’s easy to learn). Later in the semester, I may need help preparing samples for ammonium and nitrate extraction and organizing data in excel spreadsheets.

When: Fall Semester
How: Academic credit or volunteer

Hyewon Kim, a Post-doctoral researcher, Oceanographer (hk8m@virginia.edu):

  • General research field: Marine microbial ecology and biogeochemistry, Biological Oceanography
  • Description about the relevant project: Ecosystem modeling and data analysis of ocean time-series data at the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) site in the North Atlantic
  • Skills students would learn: quantitative skill in analyzing large and long-term time-series data sets, key knowledge in ocean microbial and biogeochemical processes, programming in MATLAB and other languages they would prefer to learn in.

When:Fall semester (right now would be preferred!)
How:A volunteer position or academic credit

Kelsey Huelsman, Ecology PhD student (ksh5s@virginia.edu):

I study supporting ecosystem services in three land-use types under different levels of human management at Blandy Experimental Farm. The purpose of my research is to analyze properties, processes, and functions of these land-use types to evaluate the relative levels of supporting services they provide. By then considering the cost of human management in each land-use type, the overall benefits of the ecosystem services can be compared to improve land-use decision-making.

I will need help in the lab weighing, categorizing, and analyzing biomass and leaf litter samples. You need not have experience in any of these techniques – I will work with you to teach you, and it’s easy to learn. You will learn a little bit about native and non-native species and plant functional type identification. Following lab work, you will help organize data in excel and I will teach you how to analyze the data if you’re interested.

When: Fall semester
How: Academic credit