Yale School of the Environment
B.A. 2018, Colby College, Environmental Policy and Classics
Click here for CV.
I am interested in understanding how the fragmentation and degradation of wildlife habitat impacts predator-prey spatial dynamics, leading to shifts in predator-prey-livestock interactions across the landscape. My current research focuses on how changes in habitat availability, quality, and connectivity in the American West alter predator-prey behavioral patterns, specifically between grey wolves, their ungulate prey, and cattle or sheep. I hope to examine the role that these changes play in occurrences of human-wildlife conflict, particularly in instances of livestock predation. As wolf populations continue to rebound and an increasing number of wolf packs establish home ranges across broader areas in the West, it will be necessary to understand what features on the landscape contribute to occurrences of conflict and what grazing practices livestock owners might implement to mitigate potential instances of predation. My work aims to develop models that assist in the identification of important wildlife corridors and potential conflict or predation hotspots. By contributing to this field of knowledge I hope to ease financial burdens faced by livestock owners, encourage long-term, sustainable wildlife movement patterns, and assist in the recovery of the narrative surrounding grey wolves.
As an undergraduate at Colby College, I worked in Dr. Philip Nyhus’ lab for four years. During my time in the lab, I was involved in a multitude of projects related to human-wildlife interactions. Research topics ranged from big cat attacks in private and public zoos, perceptions of climate change and human-elephant conflict near Uda Walawe National Park, Sri Lanka, and wildlife presence surveys investigating the range of Canadian Lynx populations in Northern Maine.
My final year at Colby I had the opportunity to write an honors thesis on the appearance and typology of spatial and temporal patterns in human-wildlife conflict near protected areas of land. That same year, I was fortunate enough to collaborate with researchers at Baker University on a project examining the spatial distribution and abundance of tardigrade populations according to different environmental factors as part of my senior environmental policy capstone class. My desire to apply the skillset acquired while developing models to predict tardigrade occurrence and density as part of the capstone project to an area more closely related to that of my thesis led me to my current research topic, and to the Schmitz lab.