Sarah Emery earned her B.S. as a double major in Biology and Studio Art at Denison University in Ohio in 2000. She earned her Ph.D. in a dual degree program in Plant Biology and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior from Michigan State University in 2005. Her dissertation work with Kay Gross focused on understanding the role of dominant species in regulating plant community invasibility in old-fields. She also has interests in population dynamics of invasive species and recently finished a brief post-doc examining old-field succession and non-native species invasions at the KBS LTER site. As a NPER Fellow, Sarah worked with Dr. Jennifer Rudgers in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at Rice University. Her research focused on understanding the role of microbial mutualists such as endophytic and mycorrhizal fungi in regulating plant invasion and successional dynamics of Great Lakes sand dune communities. She specifically addressed how these mutualists affect the dominance of a common native dune grass, Ammophila breviligulata , in natural and restored areas within Indiana Dunes, Sleeping Bear Dunes, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshores in Indiana and Michigan.
Philip Higuera earned his B.A. in Biology and Environmental Studies from Middlebury College, Vermont (1998) where he worked with Andrea Lloyd and Grant Meyer. It was there that he was introduced to paleoecology and became interested in long-term forest dynamics. He earned his M.S. (2002) and Ph.D. (2006) in Forest Ecosystem Analysis from the University of Washington. His M.S. research, co-advised by Linda Brubaker and Douglas Sprugel, focused on the use of sediment charcoal records to reconstruct fire history in the Puget Lowland forests of Washington State. His dissertation work, under the guidance of Linda Brubaker, focused on reconstructing fire history to understand the impacts of centennial- and millennial-scale climatic and vegetational changes on fire regimes in and around Gates of the Arctic National Park, in the southern Brooks Range of Alaska. As a NPER Fellow, Philip worked with Cathy Whitlock at Montana State University studying the spatial and temporal evolution of fire regimes over the past 4000 years in subalpine forests of Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.
Emily Minor received her B.S. in Biology from the University of South Florida in 1999 and her Ph.D. in Ecology from Duke University in 2006. Her dissertation work with Dean Urban examined some of the effects of urban development on the behavior and distribution of forest songbirds in the North Carolina Piedmont. As a NPER fellow, she worked with Katia Engelhardt and Todd Lookingbill at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Appalachian Lab. Her research focused on the spread of bird-dispersed invasive plant species in several battlefield parks in the National Capital Region. The parks contain very heterogeneous habitat, and tested hypotheses about the effects of spatial heterogeneity on the spread of these invasive plants. The project made use of satellite imagery and long-term data sets to identify patterns of spread over the past few decades, and applied graph theory to make predictions and management recommendations about future spread.
Kurt Reinhart received his B.S. from Appalachian State University in 1996 and his Ph.D. from the University of Montana in 2003. His doctoral work with Ragan Callaway examined the impact of an invasive non-native tree on terrestrial plant communities and aquatic systems. Additional research explored regeneration dynamics of the invader and prominent native species while more mechanistic research revealed how the invader impacted resident species while facilitating invasion. After completing his Ph.D. in 2003, Kurt began a Postdoctoral fellowship funded by the USDA at Indiana University with Keith Clay in fall 2003. His research explored t he role of belowground plant-microbe interactions in plant invasions. As a NPER Postdoctoral Fellow, Kurt is continued to work with Keith Clay at Indiana University to explore the role of soil-borne disease on forest succession and diversity in deciduous forests in Mammoth Cave and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks. More information about Kurt's research interests is available online at http://mypage.iu.edu/~kureinha/Research_interests.html