Who we are

Karen Abbott, Professor

Ph.D. 2006 Ecology & Evolution, University of Chicago
B.S. 2001 Biology / Mathematics, Vanderbilt

Karen studies mathematical models of ecological processes to better understand how species interactions and environmental variability generate the patterns we see in nature.


Amy Patterson, Ph.D. student

B.A. 2015 Biological Sciences: Ecology & Evolution, Wash U

Amy uses models to understand stability and instability of plant community composition, invasion eco-evolutionary dynamics, and early warning signals.


Hilary Rollins, Postdoc

Ph.D. 2019 Biology, CWRU (Benard lab)
B.S. 2012 Evolution, Ecology & Biodiversity, UC-Davis

Hilary is developing metapopulation models that will be used to test theories for stochastic dynamics on networks.


Will Huffmyer, M.S. student

B.S. 2021 Mathematics / Environmental Studies, CWRU

Will is studying the effects of predator numerical responses on the dynamics of periodical cicadas.


Shadi Esmaeili, Postdoc

Ph.D. 2019 Physics, Virginia Tech
M.A. 2018 Educational Psychology, Virginia Tech
M.S. 2012 Physics, Alzahra University
B.S. 2008 Physics, K N Toosi University of Technology

Shadi is based at UC-Davis and is co-advised with Alan Hastings and Jon Machta. She is studying the statistical physics of spatially synchronous ecological dynamics.


Jessie Mutz, Postdoc

Ph.D. 2020 Biology, University of Florida
B.A. 2010 Theater, University of Florida

Jessie is based at the University of Tennessee and is co-advised with Susan Kalisz. She is currently developing consumer-resource models to explore the demographic consequences of defense plasticity in annually cropped and wild perennial plant populations.


Lab Alumni

Fang Ji, Ph.D. student 2016–2021

next: Data Scientist, Huntington Bank
Ph.D. 2021 Biology, CWRU
B.S. 2016 Forestry, Shandong Agricultural University

Plant-herbivore dynamics, and applications of machine learning to classify spatial patterns by mechanism


Alex Strang, Ph.D. student 2016–2020

next: Kruskal Postdoc, U Chicago
Ph.D. 2020 Applied Math, CWRU
B.S. 2015 Physics, CWRU

Applications of potentials and related decompositions on networks (primary advisor: Peter Thomas)


Sam Catella, Ph.D. student 2014–2019

next: Postdoc, U Pittsburgh
Ph.D. 2019 Biology, CWRU
B.S. 2010 Molecular Environmental Biology, UC-Berkeley

Abiotic drivers of spatial patterns in forb communities


Brian Lerch, M.S. student 2015–2019

next: Ph.D. program, Evolutionary Biology, UNC-Chapel Hill
M.S. 2019 Biology, CWRU
B.S. 2019 Biology (honors) / Mathematics, CWRU

Ecology and evolution of social mammals


Kristen Buse, High School student 2017–2018

next: Computer Science major, Carnegie Mellon
2018 graduate of Mentor High School

Scale-dependence of spatial patterns in herbaceous layer plant communities


Joe Wan, Gap year student 2017–2018

next: Ph.D. program, Ecology, ETH-Zurich
B.S. 2016 Computer Science / Biology, Stanford

Using community ecology theory to study nutrient and carbon cycling in forests


Gleb Zhelezov, Postdoc 2017

next: Postdoc, U. Edinburgh
Ph.D. 2017 Mathematics, U Arizona
B.S. 2011 Mathematics / Physics, Texas A&M

Stochastic spatial ecological models


Chris Stieha, Postdoc 2015–2017

next: Asst. Professor, Biology, Millersville U
Ph.D. 2012 and M.S. 2008 Ecology, U Kentucky
B.S. 2003 Chemistry, U Kentucky

Effects of plant defenses on herbivore dynamics


Chris Moore, Postdoc 2015–2017

next: Asst. Professor, Biology, Colby College
Ph.D. 2014 Ecology, Evolution & Conservation Biol, U Nevada Reno
B.S. 2005 Biology, Cal State Polytechnic, Pomona

Population dynamics of mutualistic interactions


Katie Dixon, M.S. student 2015–2017

next: Ph.D. program, Ecology & Evolution, U Chicago
M.S. 2017 Biology, CWRU
B.S. 2015 Biology (honors), CWRU

Spatial models of canine distemper virus and dispersal in Galapagos sea lions


Tejas Joshi, M.S. student 2016–2017

next: Northwestern University Medical School
M.S. 2017 Applied Mathematics, CWRU
B.S. 2017 Applied Mathematics / Biology (honors), CWRU

Ecological model of the gut microbiome during C. difficile colitis


Adrienne Damicis, Honors student 2016–2017

next: M.S. program, Biostatistics in Public Health, Ohio State
B.S. 2017 Biology (honors) / B.A. Medical Anthropology, CWRU

Point pattern analysis of herbaceous plant communities


Ben Nolting, Postdoc 2014–2016

next: Asst. Professor, Mathematics, Chico State
Ph.D. 2013 and M.S. 2009 Mathematics, U Nebraska
B.S. 2006 Mathematics, U Alaska Anchorage

Stochastic processes in ecology

Sadly, we lost a lab alumnus in 2020, when Ben passed away following a long battle with a chronic disease. Ben’s research on applications of the quasi-potential to questions of ecological stability opened important new research avenues that my lab and others continue to pursue. After leaving my lab, Ben dedicated himself to educating the next generation of math students, with a particular emphasis on supporting students from underrepresented groups. A scholarship fund has been established in his name at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln; donations can be made here. As a talented researcher, inspirational teacher, and exceptionally kind and funny person, Ben is deeply missed by all who were lucky enough to have known him.


Kasey Kiesewetter, Honors student 2015–2016

next: Ph.D. program, Ecology, U Miami
B.S. 2016 Biology (honors), CWRU

Effects of climate change on ant-mediated seed dispersal (co-advised with Jean Burns)


Andrew Freedman, Undergraduate researcher 2015–2016

next: Ph.D. program, Biomathematics, NC State
B.S. 2016 Systems Biology / B.A. Evolutionary Biology, CWRU

Role of ant seed dispersal behavior of plant coexistence in a spatially-explicit model (co-advised with Jean Burns)


Ryan Rego, Undergraduate researcher 2015

next: Undergrad researcher, CWRU School of Medicine
B.A. 2017 Economics / M.P.H. Public Health, CWRU

Combining disease ecology and economics to evaluate interventions that limit disease spread post-natural disaster


Aubrie James, Undergraduate researcher & technician 2011–2013

next: Ph.D. program, Ecology, Cornell
B.S. 2012 Animal Ecology, Iowa State

Effects of climate change on migratory bird populations


Nick Fabina, Undergraduate researcher 2008–2009

next: Ph.D. program, Ecology, UC-Davis
B.S. 2009 Economics / Mathematics, U Wisconsin

Ecology and evolution of phenological shifts in plant-pollinator-herbivore systems (in Tony Ives’ lab)

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