Graduate Students

About

Our biology graduate students work closely with faculty members on research. For information about our graduate students’ research, see below.

For faculty research interests and contact information, see our faculty directory.

Contact Us

Photo of Ian Broxson

Ian Broxson

Graduate Student
Ashley's Lab
Photo of Ian Broxson
Photo of Hannah Coles

Hannah Coles

Graduate Student
Spruell and McNeely's Lab
Photo of Hannah Coles
SCI 190 and SCI 275
Photo of Dana Colley

Dana Colley

Graduate Student
Magori's Lab
Photo of Dana Colley

White-Nose Syndrome (WNS), caused by the psychrophilic pathogenic fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), has killed millions of bats in the eastern United States since its initial introduction in 2006 and recent expansion into the western United States. Understanding the factors that contribute to the spread of Pd and the risk of infection is crucial for management of WNS as it becomes more pervasive throughout the United States. Bat ectoparasites, such as bat flies and bat mites, are omnipresent in bat populations, yet the relationship between these ectoparasites and WNS health is still unknown. I am studying the relationship between these bat ectoparasites and the skin microbiome in relation to WNS infection risk in Washington State bats. Using next-gen sequencing techniques, I aim to determine whether ectoparasites decrease the skin microbiome diversity of these bats, increasing their susceptibility for becoming infected with Pd. Using culturing methods, I also aim to isolate naturally occurring antifungal bacteria from the skin of these bats that may be valuable as probiotic therapies to treat WNS in local colonies the future.

Photo of Kathryn Collins

Kathryn Collins

Graduate Student
L Matos' Lab
Photo of Kathryn Collins
Photo of Alicia Cozza

Alicia Cozza

Graduate Student
Spruell's Lab
Photo of Alicia Cozza
SCI 190

I am conducting research assessing species composition in local streams using environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding and electrofishing. My study streams can exhibit high water temperatures during the summer which can drive eDNA degradation and ultimately affect metabarcoding results. The goal of my research is to determine how extreme environmental shifts in a natural stream environment may affect eDNA metabarcoding results, eDNA transport distances, and how varying the definition of a positive eDNA detection may alter these results.

Lilijanna Cummings

Graduate Student
Ashley's Lab
Photo of Sarah Deshazer

Sarah Deshazer

Graduate Student
Magori's Lab
Photo of Sarah Deshazer

I am interested in studying mammal ecology, with an emphasis on species conservation. My research will look at the diversity of mammal species found on native prairie, in comparison to the Prairie Restoration site here at Eastern. Prairies like the Palouse have been primarily converted to farmland, with few native segments remaining. I suspect that there is decreased biodiversity on these highly disturbed habitats.  I hope to use my research to show how important prairie restoration is for increasing and maintaining species diversity in this unique ecosystem.

Photo of Krista Dodd

Krista Dodd

Graduate Student
Walke's Lab
Photo of Krista Dodd
SCI 289
I am originally from Colorado and moved to Virginia where I graduated with a B.S. in Biology from Liberty University. My research there was focused on using a culture-dependent method to characterize the skin microbiome of two salamander species for the purpose of testing amphibian cutaneous bacteria against the amphibian fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). This was done to see if any skin bacteria had inhibitory properties against Bd. Similarly, here at Eastern Washington University, I am studying Bd and the skin microbiome of the Pacific Chorus frog (Pseudacris regilla) and the Columbia Spotted frog (Rana luteiventris) in Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge. I am using a culture-independent method to characterize the skin microbiome and assess Bd infection intensity levels, and I am using a culture-dependent method to culture some of the amphibian skin bacteria and test it against Bd in the lab. With the culture-independent method, I hope to assess relative abundances of amphibian cutaneous bacteria in comparison to infection intensity levels of Bd. Using the culture-dependent method, I hope to identify Bd inhibitory bacteria to see if those bacterial species have a higher relative abundance in amphibians with lower infection intensities. These two methods will contribute to future studies that create probiotics of these Bd inhibitory bacteria that these frog species can be bathed in for bioaugmentation to help them fight Bd infection. I hope my research project will lead to conservation efforts for amphibians all around the globe struggling to fight Bd.
Photo of Jake Doyle

Jake Doyle

Graduate Student
Ochoa Reparaz's Lab
Photo of Jake Doyle
SCI 295

Megan Garvey

Graduate Student
McNeely's Lab
Photo of Nicole Hamada

Nicole Hamada

Grraduate Student
Case's Lab
Photo of Nicole Hamada
SCI 174

I am conducting research on cirrhosis of the liver from an etiology of alcohol induced liver disease. My research investigates the role of hepatocytes when a liver is cirrhotic and pathway/mechanisms of cytokine signaling that result in fibrogenesis. My graduate research will be based on dictating liver histology and reviewing current literature in hopes of analyzing cytokine signaling in order to manipulate adipose stem cells for liver regeneration.

Photo of Christopher Harding

Christopher Harding

Graduate Student
Ashley's Lab
Photo of Christopher Harding

My name is Christopher Harding. I am a graduate student working in the lab of Dr. Jason Ashley. My research focuses on the effect the presence of a2,3-linked sialic acid on the surface of bone marrow macrophages has on their differentiation into osteoclasts. Currently I am running paired experiments, the goal of which is to reduce the expression of a2,3-linked sialic acid on the macrophage surface. One arm of my thesis focuses on knocking down expression of SIAT4, the gene encoding ST3Gal1, the enzyme predominantly responsible for the addition of sialic acid in the aforementioned stereochemical orientation. The other arm of my thesis is the generation of a bifunctional enzyme which, in turn, will synthesize a dummy substrate for ST3Gal1, preventing the addition of sialic acid to the surface of the macrophage.

Photo of Collin Hendricks

Collin Hendricks

Graduate Student
Spruell's Lab
Photo of Collin Hendricks

Kristina Hoffman

Graduate Student
Ochoa Reparaz's Lab
Photo of Autumn Holley

Autumn Holley

Graduate Student
Walke's Lab
Photo of Autumn Holley
I am a new graduate student in Dr. Walke’s lab. I am interested in studying the interactions between amphibian skin microbiomes and Batrachyochytrium dendrobatidis, also known as Bd. Bd is a pathenogenic fungus that infects amphibians, leading to severe health effects and often death. This pathogen has led to the decline and extinction of many amphibian species. However, due to the presence of certain skin microbes, some amphibian species are more resistant to Bd. It is important to study the interactions between the microbes of resistant species and Bd. to further conservation efforts against the disease.
Photo of Jennifer Horwith

Jennifer Horwith

Graduate Student
Walke's Lab
Photo of Jennifer Horwith

I am working under two advisors, Dr. Walke and Dr. Isardi for my thesis; working towards a double benchmark that focuses on Amphibian Conservation and the microbial communities including the antimicrobial peptides to assess the possibility of an important finding that may be beneficial against two chytrid fungus that have been wiping out species of frogs and salamanders across the globe. Within Dr. Walke’s lab, I will continue this ongoing research within the lab, which I helped start as an undergrad to assist Grad student Phillip Campos.

To bring more awareness to this occurrence within our ecosystems around the
world, Dr. Walkeand Dr. Isardiand I will also be assessing amphibian
conservation curriculum across multiple institutions in undergraduate courses to evaluate and assess the efficacy of the curriculum and the desired outcome.
From implementing a CUREs based curriculum on this topic, SNAPS hopes to
gain an understanding of this efficacy of bringing the awareness to
undergraduates.

I am excited to continue my research and education at EWU!

Photo of Emma Hoskins

Emma Hoskins

Graduate Student
Brown's Lab
Photo of Emma Hoskins

I am interested in how success in ecological restoration is defined. More specifically, I am interested in whether ecosystems restored to have all the characteristics of a target ecosystem also maintain the same ecological processes as the target ecosystem. To explore this question in terms of pollination, my research is comparing the structure of plant-pollinator interaction networks between remnant and reconstructed Palouse Prairie sites. Plant-pollinator networks are all the interactions that occur between pollinating insects and flowering plants. Comparing the structure of these networks among reconstructed and remnant prairies sites will provide insight into which flowering plants are important to pollinating insects for the resources they provide, which pollinating insects are important for the reproductive success of flower plants, how these relationships may change as a site progresses through restoration recovery, and if interaction networks are currently being re-established in Palouse Prairie restoration.

Photo of Thurman Johnson

Thurman Johnson

Graduate Student
Brown's Lab
Photo of Thurman Johnson

My research interests center around invasive plant species and advancing our abilities to control them. I want to better understand how native plants can be used to effectively displace invasive species complexes and subsequently restore native communities. To this end, I am investigating how seed density in plantings of native annual forbs affects species establishment and the abundance of competing invasives. I will also be analyzing the effects of diversity on native forb establishment in multiple revegetation blends being tested for EWU’s Prairie Restoration Project.

Photo of Tiffany Jordan

Tiffany Jordan

Graduate Student
Magori's Lab
Photo of Tiffany Jordan

I like squirrels!

Photo of Katelin Killoy

Katelin Killoy

Graduate Student
Brown's Lab
Photo of Katelin Killoy
CHN 210

I am researching Beaver Dam Analogs (BDA) in the Methow and Okanogan watersheds. Stream incision can lower biodiversity and wildlife habitat. Beaver dams are known to help restore streams with channel incision. BDAs are man made structures that mimic beaver dams. It is unknown whether BDAs are as successful as beaver dams. I am using a Before-After-Control Impact design to compare sites with beaver activity and sites with BDAs over the course of the BDAs being built. I am using vegetation surveys, topography surveys, pebble counts, water time travel, and water quality measurements to determine the success of the BDAs.

Photo of Tyrel Long

Tyrel Long

Graduate Student
Ochoa Reparaz's Lab
Photo of Tyrel Long
SCI 295
Photo of Bubba Pfeffer

Bubba Pfeffer

Graduate Student
Allen's Lab
Photo of Bubba Pfeffer

“Lichens are complex, symbiotic life habits between fungi, algae, and bacteria. Their extremophile abilities have allowed them to colonize nearly every terrestrial ecosystem worldwide. I am researching the comparative genomics of lichen-forming fungi and their symbiotic associates. Using molecular and genetic technologies is essential to investigating questions about the processes and structures that support these symbiotic lifestyles.”

Photo of Sarah Richardson

Sarah Richardson

Graduate Student
Black and Spruell's Lab
Photo of Sarah Richardson
TLES & SCI 190
Photo of Ronald Scerbicke

Ronald Scerbicke

Graduate Student
Black's Lab
Photo of Ronald Scerbicke
Photo of Kristy Snyder

Kristy Snyder

Graduate Student
Brown's Lab
Photo of Kristy Snyder

I am interested in studying various aspects of plant ecology and restoration ecology. Many restoration projects seed native perennial species onto sites to restore native vegetation, but annual native species are often overlooked. For my research, I am exploring annual native species as a tool for restoration and studying soil seed banks of intact prairie remnants in the Palouse Prairie. The results of my study will inform local practitioners if using annual native seeds improves restoration outcomes, advise seed producers which annual species to make commercially available, and provide an understanding of Palouse Prairie soil seedbanks.

Heather Stewart

Graduate Student
Allen's Lab
Photo of Bryn Tennyson

Bryn Tennyson

Graduate Student
Castillo's Lab
Photo of Bryn Tennyson

My research will focus on the exploration on whether manuka honey impacts antibiotic resistant persister and viable but non-culturable (VBNC) cell accumulation, in comparison to traditional antibiotics.

Photo of Benjamin Thompson

Benjamin Thompson

Graduate Student
Magori's Lab
Photo of Benjamin Thompson

I am researching tick populations in the greater Spokane area. My collection data is used twofold. One purpose is to create a questing tick density map of Spokane County, WA to visually show the areas that have the highest likelihood of encountering ticks. Also, all ticks collected are tested for disease. The primary disease of concern is Rocky Mountain spotted fever caused by the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii. The purpose for this is the public health importance of monitoring local vector-borne zoonotic diseases.

Photo of Craig Wells

Craig Wells

Graduate Student
Spruell's Lab
Photo of Craig Wells

My research aims to use molecular techniques build a genetic baseline that can be used to identify the most likely stream of natal origin for Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarki lewisi) within the Clark Fork-Pend Oreille Basin in the hopes of aiding conservation goals for the species. Many dams in the Clark Fork-Pend Oreille Basin lack fish passage systems, a problem which blocks migratory salmonids—including Westslope Cutthroat Trout—from completing spawning migrations to their natal streams and making reproductive/genetic contributions. A genetic baseline, based on single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), will allow biologists and managers to capture a fish below a barrier, conduct a genetic analysis, and then use those results to make informed decisions about whether that fish should receive passage over a barrier. Improving the passage of migratory individuals over dams will allow them to reproduce and make genetic contributions to populations that may be experiencing decline.

Theodore Wheat

Graduate Student
Case's Lab
SCI 174