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Student Liaisons


Why section connections?

  • To inform students about other sections and news/events from the other sections

  • To show our value and commitment to ESA by serving as a portal to other sections given that we house the earliest ecologist life stage

Below is a list of the section liaisons that report back to the student section with important information relevant to students. Feel free to contact the student liaisons for more information.

Not all sections or chapters have student liasons, but if you are interested in becoming a section liaison send us an email!


Southeast Chapter

Joseph Brown

The objectives of the Southeastern Chapter shall be to encourage education and research and to sponsor meetings for the communication of ecological education and research activities of special interest to ecologists in the Southeastern United States.

About Joe:

I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Integrative Life Sciences program at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in the Coastal Plant Ecology Lab. My research focuses on plant community ecology, specifically how plant communities in stressful systems respond to disturbances associated with climate change. I am also an avid cyclist and runner in my free time. I will be serving as the student liaison for the Southeastern Chapter and I hope to achieve collaboration between chapters to promote more student travel grants centered around diversity and inclusion.

Southwest Chapter

Kelly Kerr

The chapter has a two-fold vision: To promote, develop and coordinate regional-to continental-scale research and education activities, and to promote ESA’s relevancy to existing and emerging ecological issues in the Southwest, including Mexico.

About Kelly:

My research interests involve using tree physiology, genetics and modeling to understand and predict southwestern tree species’ responses to drought events. I received a Bachelor’s from UC Davis and a Masters from Oregon State University and enjoy soccer, outdoor recreation (skiing/snowboarding, rock-climbing, hiking, etc.), and brewing beer in my free time. As the Southwestern Chapter student liaison, I hope to increase awareness of Chapter events and opportunities for the Student Section and help communicate student research related to the Southwest US

Latin American Chapter

Marcel Caritá Vaz

The objective of this Chapter shall be to encourage education and research, to sponsor meetings for the communication of ecological education and research activities, to provide scientific information to those interested in the ecology of Latin America and to facilitate access to the Society for graduate students with interest in Latin America. The Latin American Chapter is a subdivision of the Ecological Society of America.

About Marcel:

I am a Brazilian student in the last year of my Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution at UCLA. I have been doing fieldwork in the Central Amazon since 2009 focusing on building a trait database for most of the hundreds of tree species that are found there. Starting this year I am also co-chair of the Latin America chapter and my main objective is to facilitate Latin American students to come to ESA and network, thus hopefully helping them being recruited.

Aquatic Ecology Section

Courtney Larson

The purpose of the Aquatic Ecology Section of the Ecological Society of America is to advance, coordinate, and assist research and dissemination of theoretical and applied knowledge in all branches of aquatic ecology and to act as a liaison agency between investigators, societies, or any groups interested in this discipline and other scientific fields. The Section offers student travel awards to offset the expenses of students who are attending the ESA Annual Meeting to present a talk, paper or poster.

About Qianna:

Aquatic ecosystems have captivated me, and I’m excited to serve as liaison to the Aquatic Ecology Section. I graduated from Wartburg College with a B.A. degree in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Environmental Science (’14) before beginning my PhD studies in Michigan State University’s Department of Entomology and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Program. I am interested in the effect of environmental disturbance on the insect and microbial community interactions in streams. In addition to my passion for research, I enjoy collecting US National Park passport stamps and playing the violin. Through my role as liaison, I hope to increase student participation in section activities.

Asian Ecology Section

Qianna Xu

The objectives of the Asian Ecology Section are to (1) promote communication and collaboration among ecologists who are interested in the advancement of ecology in Asia, and (2) promote ecological research and education in Asia.

About Qianna:

I’m a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Biological Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology. My research focuses on how the many aspects of biodiversity play a role in stabilizing ecosystem functions in the face of environmental disturbances. I enjoy going to dance classes and exploring local breweries in my free time.
As the student liaison of the Asian Ecology Section, my goal is to help students from Asian countries and those doing ecological research in Asia connect with one another, creating a welcoming environment that promotes diversity and collaborations.

Biogeosciences Section

Joseph Edwards

The Biogeosciences Section of the Ecological Society of America seeks to promote research and education in studies of the influence of biology on the chemistry of the surface of the Earth, the processing of energy and materials in Earth’s ecosystems, and the impact of humans on Earth system function. The Section shall act as a liaison between investigators, societies, and other groups interested in these subjects.

About Joseph:

I am working on a Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation at the University of Illinois, mainly trying to figure out how mycorrhizal mutualisms between plants and fungi contribute to ecosystem carbon and nitrogen dynamics, as well as the ecosystem-level consequences of disrupting these relationships. I love riding bikes, watching Game of Thrones, and advocating for sustainable practices on my campus and in my community. As the ESA Biogeosciences Student Liaison, I want to help create a more inclusive community of ecologists, bridge gaps between different interests within ecology, and better communicate our work to inform the public about the amazing science we’re all doing.  

Communication & Engagement Section

Emily Whalen

The purpose of the C&E Section is to promote and support the practice of traditional and emerging science communication approaches by ecologists and science communicators within ESA’s membership (2) sponsor science communication training opportunities for scientists, professional development activities for science communicators, and facilitate collaboration among members through symposia, organized oral sessions, special sessions, and social events at the annual meeting and regionally; (3) support ESA’s endeavors including but not limited to interdisciplinary initiatives, policy statements, regional and national conferences, and activities of the Public Affairs Office, (4) work with other sections (e.g. Student, Education, and Policy Sections) to facilitate student participation in science communication training and exploration of communication career opportunities; and (5) formalize a community of members that have science communication experience. 

About Emily:

I am a Ph.D. student in the Frey Soil Microbial Ecology Lab at the University of New Hampshire, where I also completed my master’s degree in 2017. I study the role of fungi in soil carbon accumulation and how this process is affected by climate change. I am the student liaison to the ESA Communication and Engagement Section (formerly the Science Communication Section), and I also coordinate a science communication club for graduate students at UNH. My favorite pastimes include running, hiking with my corgi, knitting and eating pasta.

Education Section

Hannah Locke

The purpose of the Education Section is to promote and enhance ecology education for students of all ages and for the general public; to facilitate the development an dissemination of ecology curricula, published educational materials, pedagogic ideas and education programs and projects of the highest quality; to provide information, encouragement, and assistance to anyone who teaches ecological concepts and principles; to advocate an appropriate emphasis on ecology education at all levels; and to recognize those who provide outstanding instruction in ecology.

About Hannah:

I’m a 4th year Ph.D. student at the University of Houston studying how soil microbial symbionts alter aboveground plant-insect interactions. I enjoy hiking, hanging out with my dog, and good cups of Earl Grey tea. This year I’m your Education Liaison, which I’m particularly excited about—I used to be a secondary science teacher full time, so it isn’t surprising that teaching undergraduates remain one of my favorite aspects of graduate school. I’m passionate about bringing meaningful ecological and evolutionary education to as many under-served audiences as possible.

Human Ecology Section

Lin Meng

The goal of ESA’s Human Ecology Section is to guarantee intellectual exchanges on the role and the interpretation of humans’ relationship to their environment, as well as an enrichment of ecological thought itself.

About Lin:

I am a Ph.D. candidate at Iowa State University. My research focuses on urban phenology and its environmental drivers using remote sensing and modeling approaches. I received my B.S. degree in meteorology in Shenyang Agricultural University in China and my M.S. degree in meteorology at the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences. I like hiking, running, and taking photos during travel. As the Human Ecology student liaison, I hope to contribute to a stronger bond between sections to promote student-related events/research and opportunities/scholarship from the Human Ecology section for students.

Microbial Ecology Section

Alonso Favela

The purpose of the Microbial Ecology Section is to promote research and education regarding the ecology of microorganisms. This shall include (1) encouragement of research regarding the ecology of bacteria, archaea, microeukarya, and viruses, (2) sponsorship of meetings concerning such research, (3) promotion of the integration of microbial ecology into the general study of ecology, and (4) education of scientists and the general public regarding the pivotal role microorganisms play in ecological systems.

About Alonso:

I’m a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the Program of Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology. I am interested in how domestication and genetic alterations in plants influence how they interact with their microbiota. I like making art, cooking, reading, conversating, and basic plant husbandry. I’m the student liaison for the Microbial Ecology section. As the MES liaison I would like to inform people about the importance of microbes!

Paleoecology Section

David Fastovich

The Paleoecology Section strives to promote, coordinate, and otherwise assist research in all branches of theoretical and applied ecology that use paleoecological methods or historical documentary sources to gain insight into long-term ecosystem dynamics; and to help disseminate the knowledge gained through this research to investigators in other scientific disciplines, to other learned societies, and to the general public.

           About David: 

I’m a Ph.D. student in the Williams’ Lab at UW-Madison interested in paleoecology, paleoclimatology and the intersection of the two. I’m currently researching climate change since the last glacial maximum and how patterns of temperature change helped produce patterns of biodiversity in eastern North America. As the student liaison for the Paleoecology section, I hope to bring paleoecology to a wider audience, as understanding past changes help to inform modern and future observations of ecological change. When I’m not in the lab or in front of a computer I’m at the movie theaters watching whatever new movie just came out!

Plant Population Ecology Section

Gaurav Kandlikar

The Plant Population Ecology Section encourages research and communication in plant population ecology and related fields. Activities include programs at the Annual Meeting, and travel awards to encourage student participation in ESA funded through the Section’s hallmark Silent Auction of member handicrafts and other donated items. Further information on these and other Section activities, including applications for the travel awards, can be found on the section website:

About Gaurav:

I am a PhD student in Dr. Nathan Kraft’s lab at UCLA, where I research the influence of plant-soil feedbacks and spatial heterogeneity on plant species coexistence. Outside of work I enjoy cooking, running, and reading, and I’m super excited to help build a network of plant-population ecology students as a section liaison!

Rangeland Ecology Section

Joseph Gazing-Wolf

The objectives of the Rangeland Ecology Section are to facilitate communication of all aspects of rangeland ecology and management among applied and basic ecologists, natural resource managers and interested members of the public. Activities will include sponsorship of symposia and publications.

About Joseph:

I am happy to be part of this wonderful community. I am the liaison for the Rangeland Section. I received my undergraduate degree in Plant Science, and I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Environmental Health Science from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro under the guidance of Dr. Sally Koerner. My research focuses on the interactive effects of grazing management and climate variability on rangeland resiliency and productivity. As section liaison, I hope to increase the active participation of undergraduate and graduate students in the section, recruit future rangeland scientists, represent students from underrepresented populations within ESA, and network with my colleagues and mentors from all across the country and the world.

Statistical Ecology Section

Stephanie Nummer

The Statistical Ecology Section seeks to encourage research in statistical theory and methodology applied to ecological problems; to sponsor forums for the presentation of advance in statistical ecology, and to facilitate communication between the disciplines of statistics and ecology so as to enhance statistical design and analysis in ecological research.

About Stephanie:

Hello Everyone! I am a Ph.D. student at the University of Toledo majoring in Biology with a focus in Ecology. My dissertation focuses on developing a suite of statistical models to apply to phenological datasets that will allow us to see when systems began to respond to climate change and how fast they are changing. So, logically, I am the statistical section’s student section liaison. Outside of school, I enjoy teaching color guard and dance and I am always on the hunt for a good book.

Vegetation Section

Andres Andrade

The Vegetation Section seeks to encourage research and to sponsor meetings for the communication of results in all phases of vegetation science.

About Andres:

Andrés Andrade was recently elected as the new student representative of the Vegetation section. Andrés is a Ph.D. candidate and NSF Bridge to the Doctorate fellow in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Colorado Denver, where he also received his BS in Biology in 2008. His dissertation research centers on the successional development of subalpine understory communities after fire in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, including the influence of microclimate and soil chemistry on plant diversity and community trajectories. His hobbies include hiking, mountain biking, and enjoying the Colorado flora. Finally, as a student liaison, Andrés aims to increase awareness of student activities and accomplishments within the Vegetation section and hopes to increase collaborations with other ESA sections.