Deah Lieurance, Ph.D.
I am responsible for the implementation of the IFAS Assessment including 1) the Status Assessment, used to evaluate the invasiveness of non‐native species that currently occur in Florida’s natural areas, 2) the Infraspecific Taxon Protocol, used to evaluate the invasive potential of horticultural selections and cultivars, and 3) the Predictive Tool, used to determine the potential invasiveness of species that are not currently found in Florida but are proposed for introduction (e.g., biomass crops and ornamental plants).
My dissertation research addressed many aspects of mechanisms contributing to the success of non-native Lonicera species and included plant-herbivore interactions, chemical ecology, enemy release, tolerance and resistance to herbivory. I also have experience in the areas of ecosystem ecology, plant allometry, ecophysiology, and the testing and development of biocontrols for prominent invasive plant species in Florida.
My research investigates the ecology and management of grassland ecosystems and agroecosystems, especially in South Florida. Specifically, I am focusing on the role of grazing by large herbivores in modifying plant productivity and composition, and how this in turn impacts the mechanisms governing carbon cycling and associated ecosystem services in grazing lands. My goal is to reconcile experimental work that provides insight into mechanisms with the real-world management of pastures, rangelands and domestic livestock at large spatial scales. To this end, I am integrating data from remote sensing platforms and traditional ecological fieldwork with statistical models that can quantify ecosystem dynamics, test hypotheses, and inform adaptive management for both production and ecological integrity.
James Estrada, M.A.
My research focuses on the mechanisms and impacts associated with cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) invasions in native Florida plant communities. I am particularly interested in the role of propagule pressure in cogongrass establishment and the potential for invasions to be facilitated through aspects of climate change, most notably enhanced drought. My current research projects include the use of stable isotopes to investigate water competition between cogongrass, long leaf pine (Pinus palustris) and wiregrass (Aristida stricta) and disentangling the role of propagule size (number of propagules) and propagule number (the number of introduction events) in cogongrass invasion success.
Cathy Fahey, M.S.
My research is broadly focused on how plants interact with soil microbial communities, and how these interactions feedback to determine plant community structure and ecosystem processes.
I am currently working on projects with the invasive grasses, cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) and Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum). My goal is to address how soil microbes mediate interactions between invasive and native plant communities. I am particularly interested in mycorrhizal fungi and how they influence invasion success and resistance to invasion.
Julia Maki, M.S.
My research interests focus on the structure and function of grazing land ecosystems in Florida. Broadly I am interested in the understanding the mechanisms responsible for spatial and temporal variability in pasture plant communities, how pasture composition and productivity are linked to soil characteristics, and how the interactions between plants and soil influence ecosystem-scale responses.
I am a coffee roaster and master’s student living in Portland, Maine. Broadly, my research interests focus on the impact of climate change on coffee agriculture at ecological and community levels. Through my master’s research, I seek to identify within commercially available Coffea arabica cultivars, a gradient of resilience in response to projected changes in climate. I hope to use my studies and research to enhance the sustainability of coffee agriculture, in order to defend the livelihoods of coffee producers and those who depend on the coffee industry and to protect the health of the environments where coffee is grown.
Drew Hiatt, M.S.
I’m broadly interested in understanding the mechanisms causing plant invasions, with an emphasis on the role of phenotypic plasticity and how plasticity varies among invasive plant populations. Specifically, I am evaluating variation in competitive ability and response to shade among 12 Florida populations of cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica). I am also working on a project to examine the economic costs of non-native plant invasions in Florida, looking at both monitoring/treatment costs and the value of lost economic productivity on agricultural and natural areas.
Jules NeSmith, M.S.
Lab Manager and Biological Scientist II
Overall, I am interested in restoration ecology, invasion ecology, forest resources and conservation, and sustainable development practice. My research is currently focused on how multiple stressors interact to affect native ecosystems in the Southeastern U.S. Specifically, I am using complimentary common garden and field experiments to investigate the interactive effects of drought and plant invasion on survival and performance characteristics of Slash, Loblolly, and Longleaf pine. I am passionate about natural science and aim to build a career in research and conservation that enhances environmental awareness and stewardship.
Taylor Clark, B.A.
Field Research Technician
I am currently working to quantify the environmental correlates of the distribution and abundance of cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) invasion in Florida. I am interested in invasive species management, restoration ecology, biological controls, and wildlife conservation. Through research I hope to improve our understanding of restoration in Florida’s native plant communities.
Email: UF email coming soon
- Jasleen Kahlon (Intern, University of Florida Student Science Training Program)
- Joanne Zhao (Intern, University of Florida Student Science Training Program)
- Emma Byerly (University Scholar, Honors Thesis)
- Austin Young (Lombardi Scholar, IFAS Assessment)
- Christina Wiley (Lombardi Scholar, IFAS Assessment)
Postdoctoral Research Associates
- Christina Alba, Ph.D.
- Kerry Bohl Stricker, Ph.D.
- Bryan Tarbox, Ph.D.
- Dïnia Cartry, M.S. Student and International Graduate Student Intern (University of Rennes 1)
- Amaleah Mirti (University Scholar, Lombardi Scholar)
- Stanley “Will” Dezern (University Scholar, Honors Thesis)
- Katie Nickerson (University Scholar, Honors Thesis)
Undergraduate Research Assistants
- Hannah Borchelt
- Anbinh Ho
- Alex Garcia (undergraduate research volunteer)
- Teresa Orosa (undergraduate research volunteer)
- Hannah Moore
- Zach Higginbotham
- Nick Johnson (Lombardi Scholar)
- Ethan Landrum (Lombardi Scholar)
- Gabriel Smith (State University of New York, REU program)
- Amy Conant (Post University, Connecticut, REU program)
- Bruna Trentin (Brazil Scientific Mobility Program)
- Ananda Van Doornik Christo (Brazil Scientific Mobility Program)
- Wesley Lewis
- Sheila Scolaro
- Andrea Sakelson
- Micah Weiss
- Sarah Morris (IFAS Assessment)
IFAS Field Experiment Station Interns
- Kevin Scheiber (2017)
- Matthew Akers (2015)
- Ben Sperry (2014)
- Jules NeSmith (2013)
- Erin Hamilton (2012)