Principal Investigator


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

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.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Claire's research focuses on the role herbivorous fish species play in promoting reef health and the intraspecific variability apparent in this role.

Mary's research lies at the nexus of data science, conservation, and ecology, where she employs synthesis methods to study multiscale ecological patterns that inform practical solutions for managing coral reef social-ecological systems. Her postdoctoral research is focused on interactions between local and global drivers of coral bleaching as part of a synthesis of global coral bleaching patterns.

Leila's postdoc research is focused on understanding how anthropogenic forcing impacts trophic interactions, particularly those between reef fishes and corals, from community ecology down to microbial scales.

Working with ‘The Pile’ and collaborator Dr. Katie Barott at the University of Pennsylvania, Camille’s postdoc research will focus on turf algae, and how the ‘hidden diversity’ within impacts the vital functions this community provides to coral reefs. She will be using DNA metabarcoding to examine how algal diversity changes in algal turf communities in response to anthropogenic stressors such as overfishing and nutrient pollution. 

Melissa's work is focused on tri-trophic interactions in African savannas. She am 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. 

Graduate Students

Ph.D. Student

Cory's current research investigates how local anthropogenic stressors interact on multiple scales to alter coral reef community structure and resilience.

M.S. Student

My current research investigates the invertebrate communities that inhabit corals and how the nature and rate of their excretion contribute to nutrient cycling across a coral reef.

Ph.D. Student

My Ph.D. research will focus on developing new osmosamplers to facilitate the assessment of nutrient dynamics in nearshore coastal ecosystems.

Ph.D. Student

My research will focus on the impact of consumer-derived nutrients in kelp forest ecosystems and how these nutrients affect kelp production and species interactions.

Ph.D. Student

For my current research, I am interested in examining the direct effects environmental stressors have on the physiology and ecology of calcifying organisms and how these stressors may translate into indirect effects on trophic interactions and changes in community structure and dynamics.

Ph.D. Student

For my dissertation research I am interested in the effects of anthropogenic stressors on coral recruitment and juvenile coral survival. 


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 and is now an Assistant Teaching Professor at the University of Missouri, St. Loius. 

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

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).

Alain got his Ph.D. from Florida International University in 2018 focusing on the role of herbivory, habitat heterogeneity, and sedimentation on the community ecology of coral reefs in the Caribbean. He continued as a Postdoctoral Scholar at FIU studying the ecology of freshwater fishes in the Everglades. Alain is now a Research Scientist at SECORE International studying coral reef conservation and coral restoration.

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.

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.

Cate was the Lab Technician and Manager from 2009-2011 before moving on to a M.S. at Oregon University. She received her Ph.D. from Penn State University 2018 studying terrestrial predator-prey interactions.

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.

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. He is now an Eberly Postdoctoral Fellow at Penn State University. 

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 Assistant Professor in Microbiology and Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Science at Oregon State University.