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Primary Investigator

Hillary Young

Dr. Young's research is focused on understanding the effects of changes in biodiversity on population and community structure and function. She is particularly interested in understanding the cascading effects of human disturbance and biodiversity change on human health and well-being.

Postdoctoral Researchers

John McLaughlin

John uses networks as ecological maps to study ecosystem structure and function. Networks allow us to quantify ecological complexity and function as a common currency for comparing qualitatively different ecosystems. As ecology transitions from a descriptive to a predictive science, networks are a promising tool for identifying general principles linking structural properties to functional ones. John is using networks to understand the role of parasites and diseases in ecosystems as well as to design effective public health interventions. He is also assembling replicated networks to understand how ecosystem size, productivity and disturbance affect network structure and dynamics.

John Schroeder

John is a postdoctoral researcher interested in using species interactions to understand and conserve large-scale ecological patterns. For his PhD, John studied plant-fungal interaction patterns in Neotropical forests, with a focus on how fungal community composition affects the dynamics of plant diversity maintenance. In the Young lab, John is researching the impact of introduced trout on terrestrial communities in the High Sierra, as well as the impact of wildfires on species interaction networks.


Graduate Students

Ana Miller-ter Kuile

Ana is a PhD student interested in how biological communities are impacted by species introductions, and how ecosystems respond when we manage invasive species. She uses tools based in community and molecular ecology to inform management decisions in human-altered landscapes.

Elizabeth Forbes

Elizabeth is a doctoral candidate in the Young lab, whose interests lie in connecting large wildlife communities with ecosystem processes. Specifically, Elizabeth researches the relationship between large herbivore loss and carbon cycling in a Kenyan savanna system, where large herbivores like giraffes and elephants are increasingly facing pressure from land use change. Elizabeth is also interested in how research intersects with environmental policy and politics, and is working with the Benioff Ocean Initiative as a staff scientist this year.

Devyn Orr

Devyn is a PhD student investigating the cascading effects of species losses and additions in the Tehachapi Mountains of California. Devyn is establishing a new large-scale, long-term megafauna exclosure experiment, replicated across a strong climate gradient, to understand how changes in the abundance of native mule deer, re-introduced elk, invasive feral pigs, and domestic cattle impact ecosystem structure and function under different climatic conditions. She is using a diverse array of field techniques to study how processes such as disease transmission, nutrient allocation, and seed dispersal change as native large mammals are lost from a system and new species are introduced, and whether these relationships are dependent on climatic context.


Georgia Titcomb

Georgia is a doctoral student in the Young Lab who is broadly interested in understanding how landscape heterogeneity and resource hotspots can change animal movement and disease transmission. In particular, she focuses on hotspots that are either created or altered by anthropogenic forces, like climate change or shifting land-use patterns, and their direct and indirect effects on hosts and parasites. She is currently investigating the role of water sources in East-African savannas in aggregating animals and their parasites.

An Bui

An is a grad student whose research lies at the intersection of community and theoretical ecology. She uses empirical field methods to parameterize models describing the effects of interacting environmental stressors on community composition. With her current project, she asks how land use and aridity affect functional communities of ectomycorrhizal fungi and the strength of their relationships with oak (Quercus spp.) tree hosts at Tejon Ranch in the Tehachapi mountains of California. She is advised by Holly Moeller and Hillary Young.

Kate Culhane

Kate is a PhD student interested in the ecological aftermath of large-scale disturbance. She works in the local streams around Santa Barbara, focusing on those impacted by the recent Thomas Fire and subsequent Montecito debris flows. Specifically, she researches how fire and debris flow change community structure and cross-habitat subsidies between streams and riparian zones. More broadly, she uses a range of field techniques to address questions about disturbance and ecosystem resiliency. She is co-advised by Max Moritz in the Bren School.

Michelle Lee

Michelle is a PhD student interested in the understanding the effects of species introduction and loss on ecosystem functions and cross-ecosystem linkages. She is interested in using community ecology, network science, and big data to address these ecological questions. Her current research in the Sierra Nevada mountains explores the impact of trout introduction and abiotic context on terrestrial plant and pollinator communities.

Rachel Behm

Rachel is a Mater’s student studying the diversity of flies on the Palmyra Atoll, as well as, the Ophionine wasps of Coastal Southern California.

Maggie Klope

Maggie is a masters student and former Lab Manger for the Young Lab. She is interested in how human-induced disturbances can cascade through trophic levels to impact ecosystem services.  Maggie plans to work at the Tejon Ranch Exclosure Experiment and investigate how native and non-native grazing can change above- and below-ground interactions to alter food webs and nutrient cycling.

Caroline Owens

Caroline is a PhD student interested in the effects of global change on ecosystem structure and function. She is planning to study nutrient and energy flows between habitat types. Specifically, she is developing a project in the high Sierra to understand the impacts of changing nutrient deposition and precipitation patterns on cross-habitat links.



Lab Manager

Chelsea Steel

Chelsea is our new lab manager. She got a BS in Conservation and Resource Studies at UC Berkeley. Born and raised in Switzerland, she loves to learn about California’s diverse landscapes while helping out with field work or research in the lab.



Lab Assistants

Bhavandeep Dhilon

Bhavandeep is a recent graduate of UCSB with a degree in Microbiology major. His interests include host-parasite relationships/dynamics and infection pathways. His hobbies include landscape photography and hiking. In the lab, Bhavandeep is leading a study examining estuarine fish and the parasites that infect them.

Jenna Hulke

Jenna has been managing the Watering Holes project in Kenya for the past year. Although Jenna has been working on identifying wildlife parasites and vectors in the field, she is also interested in public health issues involving parasites.

John Mantas

John is a field assistant in Kenya who has worked on a wide range of Young lab projects. Aside from being our resident mammal expert, John is a navigational superstar in the field!

Godfrey Amooni

Godfrey has been an assistant with the Young lab in Kenya for the past 2 years. Godfrey is our resident botanist, and can identify an enormous number of Mpala's grasses and trees to species.

Anissa Carter

Anissa is a fourth year Biology student interested in community ecology and the response of mammals to anthropogenic disturbances. She is currently assisting with research in bats’ responses to quality and location of habitats.

Kevin Park

Kevin is a fourth year undergraduate majoring in Zoology. He’s interested in community ecology and host-parasite interactions. Kevin is currently assisting with the Palmyra project and the Fish project.

Undergraduate Assistants

John Parson

John is a fourth year undergraduate majoring in Ecology and Evolution. He’s interested in community ecology and the impact of land management practices. John is currently working with Devyn Orr to study the effects of large herbivores on plant communities at Tejon Ranch.

Carina Motta

Carina is a third year pre-bio major who hopes to earn a B.S. in Ecology and Evolution.  She is interested in ornithology, community ecology, and climate change.  Carina is currently working with Devyn Orr at Tejon Ranch through the EUREKA Internship Program studying the effect of large land mammal loss and climate change on tick-borne disease in California.  

Bella Moyorga

Bella is a third year working towards a BS in Biological Science. Her hobbies include running, editorial makeup, and iPhone photography. She is interested in environmental conservation, wildlife ecology, and biological and behavioral adaptations to severe climate. She is interning with Devyn on the Tejon Ranch experiment studying the expected consequences of climate change in regard to the prevalence of tick-borne diseases.

Ivan Rodriguez

Ivan will be working in Kenya with graduate student Gerogia Young during Summer 2017. He will be investigating hookworm prevalence at watering holes across a rainfall gradient in Kenya to better understand transmission of this globally-important group of parasites.

Gabriela Triant

Gabriela is a third year undergraduate student studying Biology. She is currently working on the Palmyra Atoll project and is curious about the effects of invasive species on various ecological systems.
Gabriela is especially interested in studying how human interference affects ecological systems and patterns, as well as how these factor in turn affect humans.

Megan Oza

Megan is a third year Biological Sciences major interested in conservation biology and ecosystem preservation. She has worked on the Palmyra Atoll project, and is currently researching floral resource availability for pollinators as well as pollinator community dynamics at UCSB. In her free time she enjoys cooking, hiking, and traveling.


Lab Alumni

Ben Teton

Ben was a masters student and wildlife biologist with the Tejon Ranch Conservancy. His interests are in the practical application of wildlife monitoring techniques to improve conservation management outcomes. His thesis work focuses on modern camera trapping methods that can be used to identify individuals within populations that have previously been considered indistinguishable from natural markings alone, and how these capture histories can be integrated into simple mark-resight population models to estimate a range of population parameters in nearly real-time, without the costs and liabilities associated with traditional trapping and tagging techniques.

Erica Weed

Erica has a Bachelors degree in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Barbara and is interested in conservation ecology, behavioral ecology and marine population dynamics. She is currently assisting with the Palmyra Project as an Intern to help identify arthropods.

Kelli Konicek

Kelli grew up in Colorado and obtained her Bachelor's degree at Sarah Lawrence College. Originally, her career goal was to become a molecular biologist. After taking an entomology tutorial at Oxford University and volunteering for the USFWS on Johnston Atoll to eradicate yellow crazy ants, her current focus is to go to graduate school for entomology. She hopes to someday study Lepidoptera in a way that incorporates her experience in molecular biology.

Joellyn Moine

Joellyn Moine graduated from Grace College, Indiana with a BS in
Environmental Science. Since then she has been involved research
projects in South Dakota, Nevada, and Idaho. Currently, she is working on the Palmyra project and is interested in pursuing a masters in the coming year.

Ronny Young

Ronny recently graduated from UCSB with a degree in Biological Sciences. He has been working on the Palmyra project specifically looking at the eradication of Aedes albopictus following the eradication of invasive black rats. He wants to attend graduate school to study disease ecology of salmonids in the Pacific Northwest and to understand how to effectively manage aquaculture to minimize negative impacts on native fish.

Taylor Bogar

Taylor graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a Bachelors degree in Zoology. It was here that he fell in love with Entomology and Ecology. He has worked on a variety of different projects in the last few years including a REU position in Palmyra Atoll, and performing pollinator surveys in North Dakota. Taylor is currently working on the Palmyra Project to help identify a variety of Arthropods and hopes to continue working with invertebrates in the future

Emily Paul

Emily graduated from Grace College, Indiana with a BS in Environmental Biology. Since then she has worked for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and has interned at a wildlife rehabilitation center. She currently is working on the Palmyra project.

Ezra Fairbanks

Ezra is a fourth year EEMB student at UCSB currently assisting with the Palmyra project. Ezra is interested in the diversity and interplay of an ecosystem's components and finding ways to preserve ecosystem services. He likes the beach and playing guitar

Steven Grant

Steven is a third year Biology BS major currently working on the Palmyra Project researching the effect of the removal of rats on the ecosystem, specifically mites. He is interested in ecosystem preservation and climate change.  His other passions include playing/watching basketball.

Sean Denny

Sean is assisting with a variety of projects in the Young lab, but his work is mostly focused on research in Tejon Ranch, where he works with grad-student Devyn Orr to study the effects of large mammal loss on the prevalence of tick-born diseases. Sean has a Master's in Conservation Science from Imperial College London and hopes to return to graduate school to pursue a PhD in wildlife ecology and conservation.

Dana Morton

Dana is a fourth-year student at Oregon State this year, and worked with Elizabeth Forbes as an NSF-REU grantee in the summer of 2017. Dana worked primarily on determining the total microbial biomass of soils from the Kenya Long-term Exclosure Experiment, in an effort to find out if large-bodied herbivore presence or absence on the landscape significantly impacts microbial abundance. In addition to savanna soil ecology, she's interested in rocky intertidal zone research, particularly in her home state of Oregon.

Calvin Davidson

Calvin assisted our lab in multiple project, including identifying invertebrates for the Tejon Ranch project. He is a Biology Major in the College of Creative Studies with interests in invertebrates, community ecology and zoology.

Gabby Najm

Gabby graduated with a degree in Biology from the College of Creative Studies. She is interested in conservation, population genetics, and captive breeding. During her time in the Young Lab, Gabby researched climatic and temporal variations in animal activity around water sources in the Tehachapi Mountains using camera trap data.

Amanda Orens

Amanda graduated with a degree in Zoology. She is interested in community and vertebrate ecology and habitat restoration. During her time in the Young Lab, Amanda assisted with research on California estuarine fish and their relationship with parasites.

May Wen-Chuan Chou

May graduated with a degree in Microbiology. She is interested in how microorganisms impact large wildlife and human welfare. During her time in the Young Lab, May worked on Trypanosoma research.

Ana Sofia Guerra

Ana graduated from Stanford University in 2013 with a B.S. in Biology. She has been associated with several projects in the lab including host-ectoparasite associations of small mammals in Kenya and Western Gulls in the Channel Islands. Ana is now a PhD student in the McCauley Lab where she is researching fish schooling behavior and grazing on coral reefs. 

Amanda Tokuyama

Amanda graduated with a degree Biology major in the College of Creative Studies in December 2016. She is interested in the cascading effects of invasive species and infectious disease on wildlife communities. Amanda worked on Mount Kenya coccidian research.

Nicolette Flannery

Nicolette graduated with a degree in Zoology in December 2016. She has garnered past research experiences in the field and lab as an intern in the Page-Dugan lab, a coastal marine ecology lab, at UCSB's MSI. Through the Page-Dugan lab, Nicolette completed research on the urbanization of sandy beach ecosystems and presented at UCSB's Undergraduate Research Colloquium in May 2016. Nicolette is interested in conservation biology and invertebrate zoology, notably entomology, which she plans to pursue in her graduate education. Nicolette assisted with Devyn Orr's research by identifying invertebrates in samples taken from Tejon Ranch.

Sean Nguyen

Sean graduated from UCSB with a Biology degree from the College of Creative Studies. He is interested in community and disease ecology. In the future, he hopes go into epidemiology and bridge his interests in disease ecology and public health. During his time as an undergrad and as a lab assistant, he conducted research on California estuarine fish and their parasites. Sean plans to attend medical school beginning in Fall 2017.

Benjamin Boyce

Benjamin is a former lab manger for the Young lab at UCSB. He is a UCSB graduate, and his interests include anthropogenic influences on ecosystems, conservation, and environmental ethics.

Tyler Ainsworth

Tyler was an undergrad zoology major interested in disease ecology and parasitology, primarily to gain a better understanding of how human disturbances can affect human health.

Shane Ransbury

Shane was an undergrad majoring in Physiology interested in aquatic ecology and systems physiology with research experience studying invertebrate recruitment in sub-tidal waters off California.

Lauren Gillespie

Former Young lab manager Lauren is currently pursuing a masters in biodiversity, ecology, and the environment at the University Joseph Fourier in Grenoble, France. She is particularly interested in ornithology and population genetics.

Katherine LeVan

A former visiting scholar in the Young lab, Katherine studied the effects of human-mediated resource subsidies on foraging and disease profiles of gulls in the Channel Islands. She is currently a staff scientist at the National Ecological Observatory Network in Colorado.

Katie Nigro

Katie was an undergrad majoring in Ecology and Evolution at UCSB. She graduated in Spring 2015 and spent the summer working in the Young lab as a technician before moving to Florida for an agroecology research internship. She enjoys the outdoors and is interested in studying community ecology and ecosystem interactions in both aquatic and terrestrial environments. ​

Matt Snider

Matt was the manager of our Ecosystem Ecology and Global Change Laboratory (EEGCL) at the Mpala Research Centre. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a B.S. in Animal Science in 2009 and has spent most of the intervening time working on various projects in Africa, including recent stints studying Grant's gazelles in Laikipia, Kenya and lions in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. His principle research interests include behavioral and movement ecology of mammals with an emphasis on inter/intra-specific dynamics.  

Ashley Hintz

Has a diverse background in molecular biology/genetics, natural history collections, animal husbandry and basic veterinary science. She is completing her graduate degree researching the phylogenetics of Australian planigales using multiple genetic loci. She worked at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in the Mammals Division on a project to create and catalogue barcode sequences of ectoparasites (fleas, ticks, mites and lice) from African rodents collected by Dr. Young for her research into African disease ecology.

BS Organismal Biology University of Kansas 2009
MS Zoology Southern Illinois University Carbondale 2014

Do Trung Quan

Quan graduated from UCSB in 2016 with a degree in biochemistry molecular biology. He is interested in disease ecology and ecosystem interactions, and worked on Kenyan tick research.


Anna Burrows

After graduating from UCSB with a BS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 2016, Anna worked as a lab assistant on the Gull Project at the Channel Islands during the Spring Quarter of 2016.

Johnson Lin

Johnson was an Aquatic Biology major. He is interested in infectious disease dynamics and community ecology. He is also interested in how anthropogenic disturbances might influence biodiversity loss and induce cascading effects that could impact community interactions and human health. Johnson assisted Devyn with her work at Tejon Ranch assessing grazing effects on invertebrate diversity and abundance, as well as the influences of large mammals on ecto-parasite behavior and interaction with the community.