Postdoctoral Fellows

aaronAaron David

I am interested in how plant-microbe interactions influence plant conservation and restoration. Specifically, his work considers how plant-soil feedbacks affect the demography of endangered plants. He is conducting his research at Archbold Biological Station, which boasts populations of several listed plant species endemic to Florida. Aaron is a post-doc in both the Afkhami and Searcy labs. To learn more about Aaron’s interests and experiences please see his website!


Graduate Students

Stephanie Clementssteph

For as long as I can remember, I have been passionate about tropical conservation. As an undergraduate, my interest in conservation led me to conduct research on the diversity-stability debate which looks at the how the diversity of an ecosystem affects its stability. I presented my research findings at the Mid-Atlantic Ecological Society of America Conference. I also had the opportunity to study abroad in Costa Rica during my undergraduate years. The beauty and diversity of the ecosystems there solidified my interest in tropical ecology. As a PhD student in the Searcy lab, I will study the effects of habitat fragmentation on tropical rainforests with the goal of revealing processes that inform tropical ecosystem conservation and restoration practices.


Caitlin Mothescaitlin

I am a PhD student interested in conservation of threatened and endangered species. She received two B.S. degrees from NC State University in Zoology and Conservation Biology. Her research interests include combining ecology and conservation genetics to apply to the protection and management of species and their associated habitats.



Research Associates

Shantel Catania

Shantel[1]I met my first salamander when I was 7 years old and instantly fell in love with these awesome creatures. Soon after, as I met toads, frogs and snakes, I realized I was passionate about catching and admiring herps, which has developed into a lifelong hobby and career. My undergraduate research assessed the effectiveness of using coded wire tags to individually mark dragonfly larvae. I also completed a senior thesis that examined whether dragonfly larvae exhibit a prey preference when offered free-living parasites and zooplankton, which can have important implications in food web dynamics and parasite transmission in aquatic systems. I successfully published the results of both projects in Canadian peer-reviewed journals and presented my thesis findings at OE3C 2016 in Toronto, Ontario. I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Searcy at the University of Toronto Mississauga, and am excited to be joining his UM lab to assist in research and laboratory management. 


Jessica Cothern


I am a senior at University of Miami majoring in biology. I am interested in disease ecology and plan to study it at the graduate level. I want to research how anthropogenic environmental disturbances such as climate change, introduction of invasive species, land-use change, and hunting of wildlife contribute to the spread of zoonoses and vector-borne disease. My goal is to use this research to develop interventions for future outbreaks and to support conservation efforts.

Lab Pets


I am the lab mascot. I am especially talented at keeping everyone motivated during long days of pond sampling. I enjoy sniffing frogs and lying down in the shade after a long day’s work.