Current Graduate Students
Anna McCallum Humphrey (M.S. Student, 2022 NASA WV Space Grant Consortium Graduate Research Fellow, Graduate Assistant, 2021-present)
Anna joined the Herpetology and Applied Conservation Lab in Summer of 2021. Her thesis research focuses on the effects of vegetation structure and historical land use on amphibians in the Longleaf Pine ecoystem. She is also working with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to quantify vegetation changes in ponds being restored for the Carolina Gopher Frog (Lithobates capito capito). Her previous work focused on live and wet collections used for research and education, as well as serving as an undergraduate TA for several wildlife courses at North Carolina State University. She received her B.S. from NCSU with a dual degree in Wildlife Biology and Plant Biology (Field Botany focus).
Emily Gray (M.S. student, 2022 NASA WV Space Grant Consortium Graduate Research Fellow, Graduate Assistant, 2021-present).
Emily’s research interests include herpetology, ecophysiology, and conservation biology. For her thesis research, she is investigating physiological trade-offs associated with reproduction in eastern diamondback rattlesnakes (Crotalus adamanteus), with a focus on osmoregulation. Her previous research as an undergraduate explored the evolution of advertisement calls in the tropical frog genus Dendropsophus. Emily received her B.S. in Biological Science from Florida State University in December 2021.
Carissa Adams (M.S. Student, 2022 NASA WV Space Grant Consortium Graduate Research Fellow, Graduate Assistant, 2022-Present)
Carissa joint the Herpetology and Applied Conservation Lab in January 2022. Her thesis research focuses on mark-recapture error rates in eastern diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus) monitoring programs. Carissa’s other research interest include conservation of diamondback terrapins and wading birds in southeastern marsh ecosystems. Prior to MU, Carissa worked with diamondback terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin) for the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and with black rails (Laterallus jamaicensis) for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. In 2017, she graduated from Clemson University with a B.S. in Environmental and Natural Resources-Conservation Biology.
Sarah Ebert (M.S. Student, 2023 NASA WV Space Grant Consortium Graduate Research Fellow, Graduate Assistant, 2022-Present)
Sarah’s interests include herpetology, wildlife management, and conservation biology. For her thesis, Sarah is using camera traps to estimate the population size of Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes at a long-term monitoring site in South Carolina. She has previously conducted research on the effects of erosion control materials on snakes, the effectiveness of roadway exclusion fences for toads, and heavy metal contamination in insects. Sarah graduated with a B.S. in Biology from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2019.
Casey Hitchens (M.S. Student, Graduate Assistant, 2022-Present)
Casey joined the Herpetology and Applied Conservation Lab in January 2022. Her research interests include wildlife biology, mammalogy, landscape ecology, and conservation biology. Casey’s thesis research focuses on population ecology and post-translocation monitoring of the Southern fox squirrel (Sciurus niger niger) in Coastal South Carolina. Her previous research as an undergraduate student included studying the translocation of the Delmarva fox squirrels throughout southeastern Delaware and monitoring the endangered Piping Plover breeding population along the Delaware coast. Casey graduated from Bridgewater College in May 2020 with a B.S. in Environmental Science.
McKenzie Merritt (M.S. Student, 2023 NASA WV Space Grant Consortium Graduate Research Fellow, Graduate Assistant, 2022 – Present)
McKenzie joined the Herpetology and Applied Conservation Lab in January 2022. Her thesis research will focus on prescribed fire on tick-borne disease pathogens and prevalence in coastal South Carolina. McKenzie’s other research interests include conservation biology, infectious disease in wildlife, and wildlife biology and management. Prior to MU, McKenzie worked for the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources and Zoetis Animal Health. McKenzie graduated from Oklahoma State University in May 2020 with B.S. in Natural Resources Ecology & Management with a focus in Wildlife Biology.
Morgan Page (M.S. Student, Smith-Goodno Fellow, Graduate Assistant, 2022-Present)
Morgan joined the Herpetology and Applied Conservation Lab in Fall 2022 as a Smith-Goodno Fellow. Her thesis research will focus on modeling the decline of Eastern Spadefoots, Smallmouth Salamanders, Northern Leopard Frogs, and Blanchard’s Cricket Frog along the Ohio River and its tributaries. Her research interests include community ecology and conservation biology, and she has previously conducted lizard community surveys across Texas and Puerto Rico. Morgan graduated from Oklahoma State University in May 2020 with B.S. in Natural Resources Ecology and Management.
Matthew Gacheny (M.S. Student, Graduate Assistant, 2022-present)
Matthew’s research interests include reptile thermal and reproductive ecology. For his M.S. thesis project, he is investigating how microhabitat thermal profiles influence Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake overwintering and gestation site selection. Matthew’s previous research experience has involved riverine turtle diet and reproductive ecology as impacted by anthropogenic habitat modification, changes in snake foraging movement in response to wildlife management methods, bat hibernacula selection, quail population ecology, and snake community ecology. Matthew graduated with a B.S. in biology with a concentration on organismal biology and ecology from Towson University, Maryland, in 2019.
Having fun way up high in Rocky Mountain National Park while attending Pathways: Human Dimensions of Wildlife conference in Estes Park, CO, September 2017. Pictured (Left-Right, back row): Jayme Waldron, Zella May Welch, Maggie Smith, Rachel Arrick, Jessica Cantrell, Mike Jungen; Front, left to right: Zach Ross, Kate Amspacher, and Oscar Welch.