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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.

Graduate Students

Ana Miller-ter Kuile

Ana is a third year doctoral student in the Young Lab interested in how biological communities are impacted by species extinctions and invasions, and how habitat alterations cause cascading impacts on communities. She uses tools based in community and molecular ecology to inform management decisions in human-altered landscapes. 

Elizabeth Forbes

Elizabeth is a third year doctoral student in the Young lab, and part of the IGERT Network Science traineeship program; she is primarily interested in ecological communities and the impacts that perturbations have on those communities. Specifically, she's interested in: a) the impact of wildlife loss on the basic yet essential ecosystem functions like carbon flux and carbon storage, and how to consider the direct and indirect influences of large wildlife on carbon in ecosystems, and b) the impacts of wildlife loss on the network structure of ecological communities.

Devyn Orr

Devyn is a third year 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 second-year PhD student researching the impact of watering holes on parasite density in the East African tropical savanna. Georgia is using a variety of field techniques, from tick drags and camera trapping to parasite microscopy, to study wildlife and domestic animal use of these water sources. Conducting her fieldwork across a climate gradient and over rainfall seasons, she aims to understand how this disease risk may change over time and under future climate scenarios. Aside from getting her feet wet in watering holes, Georgia is an artist who creatively explores biological themes and questions in her drawings, paintings, and printmaking ventures!

Ben Teton

Ben is a second year 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.

An Bui

An is a first year graduate student interested in eco-evolutionary dynamics, or how evolution happens in ecological timescales to affect population and community structure. She has a research background in both the genetics of behavior and broad scale community ecology, and looks to combine her two experiences into work that tracks the pathway from gene all the way to ecosystem function. She is co-advised by Tom Turner in EEMB.

Kate Culhane

Kate is a first-year PhD student interested in the ecological aftermath of large-scale disturbances, specifically fires. She is currently working on a project in the northern Sierras, looking at changes in trophic structure following the recent 97,000-acre King Fire. More broadly, she's hoping to use 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 first-year PhD student interested in the effects of species introduction and loss on ecosystem function. She is currently planning work in high-elevation lakes in the Sierra Nevada, studying the impacts of introduced trout on terrestrial plant and pollinator communities.

Rachel Behm

Rachel is a first year master's student interested in insect systematics and ecology. She is doing two projects; an ecological analysis of Diptera of the Palmyra Atoll and a description of Ophioninae wasps of Santa Barbara in association with the Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration (CCBER). She is also interested in creating educational materials that will help students with arthropod identification. She is co-advised by Dr. Katja Seltmann at CCBER.


Lab Manager

Maggie Klope

Maggie Klope is the Lab Manager for the Young Lab at UCSB. Maggie joined our lab after working for California State Parks and as a biologist for an environmental consulting company. She is interested in the impacts of plant community assembly and habitat disturbance on ecosystem services. 


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.

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.

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.


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.

Undergraduate Assistants

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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


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.

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.


Lab Alumni

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.