Department of Ecology, Evolution & Environmental Biology




Research Projects



Prospective Students






maría Uriarte, Professor       


Tel: 212-854-1494

1017 Schermerhorn Extension









Benedicte Bachelot, Ph. D. Student



PictureBene is interested in the mechanisms that help maintain coexistence in high diversity tropical forests. How can so many species coexist in the same forest? To address this question, she is using both field observations and modelling. For her doctoral work, she is investigating how the actions of mycorhizal fungi and plants enemies (such as pathogens, herbivores..) help maintain seedling coexistence. She has developed a conceptual model of plant population dynamics and is using empirical data from El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico to test some assumptions of the model. 


Read more about Bene here




Naomi Schwartz, Ph. D. Student



Naomi got her M.S. at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. She is interested in the role of disturbance in shaping landscapes and communities and in understanding the ways that humans affect disturbance regimes through land use, climate change, and other activities. She is currently working on understanding the drivers of recent increases in fire in the Peruvian Amazon where burning has been used for centuries to manage agricultural fields, and more recently, to clear and clean pastures. 










Andrew Quebbeman, Ph. D. Student



Andrew got his B.S. from the University of Michigan. He is interested in the relationship between soil fungal and plant communities, as well as the role of aboveground-belowground interactions in biogeochemical cycles.  He is conducting his thesis research in the forests of Puerto Rico.











Jess Stitt, M. A. Student




Jess received her B.S. from Cornell University in Natural Resources, where she studied the effects of woody material removal on forest biodiversity. She is interested in biodiversity and community structuring at multiple scales within forests and across landscapes. Her current work looks at trophic relationships among dung beetle, mammal, and fruiting tree communities in the Western Amazon to discern patterns of distribution and interaction.








Dev Harrington, B. A. Student



Dev is broadly interested in the variation in forest biodiversity and dynamics, and particularly in plant functional ecology and the ecological consequences of intraspecific and interspecific trait variation. He is working in the Guanica Dry Forest of Puerto Rico.











Jesse Lasky, Earth Institute Fellow

Email: is broadly interested in spatial patterns of biodiversity, particularly in highly complex systems. He studies the drivers of biodiversity and shifts in biodiversity in response to environmental change. Currently, he is studying biotic and abiotic drivers of tropical tree community dynamics, with a functional trait perspective. Additionally, he is exploring the climatic drivers and molecular mechanisms underlying local adaptation in Arabidopsis thaliana.

Read more about Jesse here.





Leandro Reverberi Tambosi




Leandro is interested in restoration ecology at the scale of landscapes with a focus on the Atlantic Forest region in Brazil. Currently, he is studying the impacts of precipitation variability and land use dynamics on water quality across the state of São Paulo. The goal of this research is to develop scenarios of the potential impacts of climate change for water provision to key agricultural production areas and to the São Paulo Metropolitan Region.







Xiaohiu Feng

Email: is interested in improving our understanding of the global carbon cycle by investigating the interactions and feedbacks of tropical forests and climate. For her dissertation research, she investigated the productivity, physiology, community dynamics, and ecological impacts of a grassland agro-ecosystem combining field studies and ecosystem modeling. Her current research focuses on the investigation of community dynamics and ecological cycles in tropical forests. Tropical forest carbon cycle feedbacks have been identified as one of the largest sources of uncertainty in global carbon cycle modeling, but they are inadequately represented in modeling efforts. Sunny will quantify the responses of tropical forests to climate variability including drought, warming and hurricane disturbance, leading to significant improvement in the representation of tropical ecosystems in terrestrial carbon models.





Yuxin Chen


Yuxin is a Phd student from Sun Yat-sen University, China. He is interested in how ecosystem structure and function emerge from individual-level processes. For his doctoral work, he is applying neighborhood models to investigate how niche and fitness processes contribute to species coexistence and ecosystem functions in tropical forests.



Paula Prist


Paula is a PhD student in landscape ecology at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. She is interested in the effects of landscape structure on mammal communities and disease transmission. For her doctoral project, she is studying how landscape structure and climatic factors influence the transmission of hantavirus, a disease transmitted by small mammals, that reaches the man as an accidental host and leads to 50% of them to death.  Her goal is to identify areas of high risk of hantavirus transmission in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, and analyze how climate change scenarios and forest restoration projects can affect transmission risk.



Evelyn Alecrim


Evelyn is a Ph.D. student at the University of Lavras, Brazil. She is interested in the ecology of natural edges, specifically natural boundaries between grasslands and gallery forests in the Cerrado Biome of Brazil. Since these edges have unique features, she aims to understand how species are distributed along the environmental gradient, the factors responsible for these patterns, and how species differ in terms of strategies for resource acquisition, competition and endurance to edge environments.






Bob Muscarella, Ph.D. student

Current position: NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Arrhus, Denmark & Wagenigen University.


Marina Côrtes, Ph.D. student

Current position: Assistant Professor, University of São Paulo, Rio Claro


Eli Dueker, Ph.D. student

Current position: Assistant Professor of Environmental and Urban Studies, Bard College.


Elizabeth Nichols, Ph.D. student

Current position: NSF International Postdoctoral Fellow, University of São Paulo & Lancaster University

Liz will be starting a faculty position at Swarthmore College, Fall 2015. Congratulations, Liz!


Megan McGinty, Ph.D. student

Current position: Owner of Cultivate Nature.


Tanja Crk, MA student

Current position:  GIS specialist, U.S. EPA


Timothy J. Agin, MA student

Current position: Ph.D student, University of South Dakota,


Charles Yackulic, Postdoctoral Associate.

Current position: USGS Research Scientist, Arizona.


Liza Comita, Postdoctoral Associate & Earth Institute Fellow

Current position: Assistant Professor, Yale Forestry School


Marina Anciães, Postdoctoral Associate

Current position: Researcher, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, Manaus, Brazil