Principal Investigator

Research Scientist

Tom's work is generally focused on how disturbance and biotic interactions influence community structure and dynamics of coral reefs with particular focus on the direct and indirect effects of herbivores on reef systems.


Deron's research has mostly focused on how trophic interactions and productivity shape community organization across a variety of different ecosystems including coral reefs, rivers, tall grass prairies, and African savannas.

Project Scientists

Lindsay is a research scientist with the Burkepile lab and the Moorea Coral Reef LTER. She is interested in helping to protect and preserve important species and habitats by identifying distinct trends in coral reef ecosystems over long spans of time and increasing science outreach. 

Postdoctoral Researchers

Shalanda’s research focuses on how press and pulse disturbances affect ecological interactions, resilience, and trait dynamics across different levels of organization (e.g., species to community). Shalanda is also interested in how anthropogenic factors and climate change affect environmental drivers (e.g., nutrients and sediment) in coral reef ecosystems. She uses a combination of lab and field experiments to address the aims in her research. 

Christian’s work explores drivers of multiscale change in ecological systems. His interests center on seasonality, predictability, and space-time in ecology.

Jamie’s research evaluates how coral reef biodiversity - from fishes, corals, algae, and invertebrates to the coral microbiome - are driven by anthropogenic stressors such as the loss of herbivorous fishes, nutrient pollution, and marine heat waves.

Courtney's research focuses on scaling between trophic interactions and emergent ecosystem structure in African savannas. She is also interested in how abiotic factors such as climate and fire impact these structural outcomes. Courtney uses a combination of field experiments and molecular tools in her research.

Graduate Students

Ph.D. Student

Noe is currently interested in the feeding interactions of reef fishes considering morphological and behavioral variation at the species and individual level to understand the indirect effects on marine community structure. He hopes to examine this variation among predatory and herbivorous fishes in both tropical and temperate marine habitats to learn more about the differences in food web structure and the importance of individual level traits.

M.S. Student

Lauren is interested in how pulse disturbances shape community structure in coral reef ecosystems. Her research will focus on how a gradient of grazing pressure interacts with nutrient enrichment to influence algal patch dynamics.

Ph.D. Student

Jordan's research is focused on understanding the role of anthropogenic nutrient pollution in driving shifts from coral to macroalgae dominated communities and how nutrients affect the resilience of macroalgae populations.

Ph.D. Student

Olivia’s research is currently focused on the ecological processes and anthropogenic stressors that drive coral spatial distribution to aid restoration and management.

Ph.D. Student

Nury’s Ph.D. research will focus on herbivorous fish and how their consumption of algae contributes to coral reef resilience.

Ph.D. Student

Julianna is currently interested in how coral-associated biodiversity mediates coral resistance to climate stress. 

Ph.D. Student

Madeleine’s current research focuses on combining observational and molecular data to study the trophic partitioning of herbivorous fish in tropical coral reefs across space, time and gradients of human disturbance.


Jake was a post-doc in the lab in 2016-17 focusing on the role of fish-derived nutrients in coral reef ecosystems. He is now an Assistant Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan. 

Laura got her Ph.D. in the lab in 2014 focusing on how predation risk impacts herbivory on coral reefs. She is now an Associate Teaching Professor at Emory University.

Sam was a NSF REU student with our lab in 2014 examining the interaction between nutrient pollution and corallivory on coral microbiomes. She earned a M.A. at UC Santa Barbara in 2020.

Claire was a post-doctoral scholar collaborating with the Burkepile Lab 2019-2020. Her research focused on the role herbivorous fish species play in promoting reef health and the intraspecific variability apparent in this role. Claire is now an Assistant Professor at the State University of New York Korea.

Joost was a post-doc in the lab in 2017 working on the effects of nitrogen, phosphorus and iron on the productivity of benthic algae as part of a collaboration consisting of the University of California, Santa Barbara (USA), the CRIOBE (France), the Max Planck Institutes in Bremen and Oldenburg (both Germany), the University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands), and l’Université des Antilles et de la Guyane (Guadeloupe). He is the Co-Founder and CEO of planblue a company developing new technology to map the ocean floor. 

Mary was a postdoctoral researcher from the lab from 2018-2020. Her postdoctoral research focused on interactions between local and global drivers of coral bleaching as part of a synthesis of global coral bleaching patterns. She is now an Assistant Professor at Arizona State University.

Alain got his M.S. in the lab in 2013 and his Ph.D. in the lab in 2018 focusing on the role of herbivory, habitat heterogeneity, and sedimentation on the community ecology of coral reefs in the Caribbean. He was a Postdoctoral Scholar at Florida International University studying the ecology of freshwater fishes in the Everglades. Alain is now an Assistant Teaching Professor at Florida International University and co-lead of the Tropical Marine Ecology Lab at FIU. 

Leila was a postdoctoral fellow in the lab from 2017-2020 focusing on understanding how anthropogenic forcing impacts trophic interactions, particularly those between reef fishes and corals, from community ecology down to microbial scales. She is now a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Montpellier.

Cory was a graduate student in our group examining how local anthropogenic stressors interact on multiple scales to alter coral reef community structure and resilience. She is now the Marine Invertebrate Collections Manager at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Camille was a UC President's Postdoctoral fellow in the lab in 20019 working with ‘The Pile’ and collaborator Dr. Katie Barott at the University of Pennsylvania, Camille’s postdoc research on turf algae, and how the ‘hidden diversity’ within impacts the vital functions this community provides to coral reefs using DNA metabarcoding. She is now an Assistant Teaching Professor at the Penn State University and Co-founder of A WOC Space 

Mark got his PhD with the lab in 2019. His dissertation work was focused on the important drivers of coral reef community recovery and restoration ecology of tropical ecosystems, with an emphasis on coral reefs. His research focused on the dynamics of coral competition, how coral density affects fish community dynamics, and the role of coral genotypic diversity in impacting coral growth and recovery from disturbance. Mark is currently a Coral Reef Scientist with the NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center. 

Kaitlyn's research investigated the invertebrate communities that inhabit corals and how the nature and rate of their excretion contribute to nutrient cycling across a coral reef. She is now a Science Communication Coordinator for the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Nate got his  PhD  in 2015 with a dissertation focused on how climate change alters trophic interactions across multiple ecosystems. He was a USDA post-doctoral fellow at Colorado State University and is now an Assistant Professor at Marquette University.

Katrina finished her M.S. in the lab in 2019. Her research examined how alterations in herbivorous fish communities on coral reefs impact top-down and bottom-up ecosystem processes. Katrina is now a Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan.

Kyle's Ph.D. research focused on the role of streams in impacting nearshore nutrient dynamics in Moorea, French Polynesia and how stream-derived nutrients impact the community dynamics of nearshore coral reefs. Kyle finished his Ph.D. in 2023 and is now designing a variety of scientific equipment via his company Ostrea Marine. 

Joey finished his Ph.D. in the lab in 2023 focusing on the role of consumer mediated nutrient cycling in kelp forests in collaboration with the Santa Barbara Coastal Long Term Ecological Research Project.  Joey is now a Quantitative Ecologist with Great Ecology in San Diego. 

Mallory joined the Burkepile lab in 2015 as a National Science Foundation, Graduate Research Fellow where she did ger graduate work on how multiple anthropogenic stressors impact coral ecology. Mallory finished her Ph.D. in 2020 and was a postdoctoral scholar at San Francisco State University before starting as an Assistant Professor at Cal State University San Marcos. 

Madelyn was a Research Technician in the lab during 2014-2015 working on interspecific differences in herbivore feeding behavior. She is now pursuing a MS in Marine Biology with friend of the lab Dr. Ben Ruttenberg at Cal Poly.

Melissa's work is focused on tri-trophic interactions in African savannas. She is particularly interested in understanding how changes in savanna vegetation structure alter herbivore and carnivore communities as well as the feedback between herbivory pressure and plant chemical defences in savanna trees. She is now an Assistant Professor at the University of North Dakota.

Andy got his PhD with the lab in 2016 focusing on the impact of nutrient pollution and the impact of different nutrients (nitrogen vs. phosphorus) on corals, coral reefs, and the ecology of mutualisms and was then a post-doc during 2016-17. Andy was then an Eberly Postdoctoral Fellow at Penn State University before being a postdoctoral scholar at New York University Abu Dhabi. He was  Research Faculty at the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory before joining the Cooperative Institute for Marine & Atmospheric Research at the University of Hawai'i as a Coral Reef Scientist.  

Kelly's postdoctoral research addressed how top-down and bottom-up forcing impact coral recruitment dynamics and the resilience of coral communities. She is now a NSF Ocean Sciences Postdoctoral Fellow at Arizona State University.

As a postdoc in our group, Keenan’s research focused on understanding the mechanisms that explain large mammal habitat use and distributions at both large and small spatial scales. Much of his work focuses on how local and global changes affect multiple levels of ecological organization and how these changes may be mitigated by management plans to maintain biological diversity and ecosystem function. Keenan is now an Assistant Professor at the University of North Dakota. 

Andrew was an NSF Polar Programs Postdoctoral Fellow during 2011-2014 examining how cross-domain interactions impact ecosystem functions in marine communities. He is currently an Associate Professor in Microbiology and Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Science at Oregon State University.