Principal Investigator

Carla Staver, Associate Professor, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

[CV] [contact]

Postdoctoral Associates and Fellows

Allison Karp is a molecular paleoecologist and interested in how ecological disturbances (i.e., fire and herbivory) interact with climate and vegetation on geologic timescales. She received her Ph.D. in Geosciences at Pennsylvania State University, where she studied the role of fire feedbacks in promoting the Neogene expansion of C4 grasslands. At Yale, she will be combining theorical modeling and Quaternary paleoecological reconstructions to examine how fire and herbivory differentiate between alternative stable states. [contact] [website]

Mohammed Armani is a plant ecologist interested in how plants adapt to disturbance (i.e., fire, herbivory, and drought) across tropical biomes. He received his Ph.D. in Plant Ecology from the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Gardens (XTBG) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), where he evaluated growth-defence syndromes across plants with no spines vs. spines, thorns, or prickles. At Yale, he will be studying vegetation trajectories across the forest – savanna boundary of western Africa under recent climate and land use change. [contact]
Juliana Teixeira is a vegetation scientist interested in how fire determines ecosystem structure and function. She received her Ph.D. in Plant Biology at the Universidade Estadual Paulista, where she studied shifts in vegetation structure and associated plant functional traits that alter carbon dynamics in tropical grasslands and savannas under fire and biological invasion. At Yale, she will examine whole-ecosystem carbon and biodiversity in Brazilian savannas at risk of afforestation. [contact]
Nick O’Mara (co-advised with Jenn Marlon, Yale School of the Environment) is an organic and isotope geochemist interested in how shifts in climate affect paleo-biogeography, ecosystem transitions, and fire dynamics. Nick received his PhD in Earth and Environmental Sciences from Columbia University, where his research focused on understanding the drivers of rainfall and ecological variability in Northwest Africa on time scales of hundreds to millions of years. At Yale, he is working on generating new paleo-records from marine sediment cores to explore spatiotemporal trends in African wildfires since the last glacial maximum 21 thousand years ago.  [contact]

Elizabeth Fillion (co-advised by Tyler Faith, University of Utah) is a paleoecologist interested in the interactions between herbivores, fire, and savanna vegetation in Africa during the Pliocene (2.6-5.3 million years ago). She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology at New York University, where she studied local paleoenvironmental responses to global climate change during the Pliocene in eastern Africa. At Yale, she will be investigating the metabolic demand of herbivore paleocommunities and whether increased CO2 fertilization could have supported elements of these communities that are not analogous to modern communities in Africa today. [contact]

Graduate Students
Riley Wadehra is interested in understanding how fire behavior changes across different vegetation structures and environmental conditions. She hopes to explore the relationship between fire behavior, weather variability, and grass biomass using both empirical and theoretical tools. She mainly focuses on savanna systems, although her work varies in scale from the plot level to global analyses. She received her B.A. in Environmental Science from Colorado College, where she worked to understand spatial patterning on the alpine treeline transition zone. [contact]
Emmanuel Oduro Takyi is interested in using a combination of mathematical and empirical work to understand how forests and savannas respond to fire disturbances, particularly how functional traits vary across the vegetation. He received his B.S in Biological Sciences from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, where he worked on effect of invasive plant species on liana communities. [contact]
Kerry Grey  (Oxford University, co-advised with Yadvinder Malhi and Nicola Stevens) is interested in the impact of global change on vegetation and carbon cycling. Her DPhil will focus on how compound climatic extremes may impact semi-arid sub-tropical savanna trees in the southern Kalahari of South Africa. Kerry received her B.Sc(Hons) in Biodiversity and Ecology at Stellenbosch University and her M.Sc in Conservation Biology at the University of Cape Town, where she investigated the impact of changing temperatures and precipitation on the physiology of the vulnerable quiver tree (Aloidendron dichotomum). 
Marie Norwood is interested in the role of fire in maintaining savanna and grassland vegetation structures. She hopes to apply these interactions to the conservation and restoration of grassy ecosystems, especially in the American southeast. She received her B.Sc. in Organismal Biology and International Development from McGill University, and has worked in grassy ecosystems around the United States, including in Colorado, Georgia, and Virginia. [contact]
Matúš Seči (University of Edinburgh, co-advised with Casey Ryan and David Williams) is using remote sensing and modelling methods for understanding vegetation and carbon cycle in the tropics, with a focus on resolving spatio-temporal dynamics of tropical forest-savanna transitions. He received BSc (Hons) in Ecological and Environmental Sciences from the University of Edinburgh and has worked on topics related to tropical vegetation modelling, the global carbon budget, and fires in the Amazon.
Nothando Teddy Ngobeni (MSc UNISA, co-advised with Sellina Nkosi and Haemish Mellville) is studying savanna fire behavior under evolving fire management and climate variability, and the ecological consequences of those changes, with a focus in Kruger National Park, South Africa. Nothando received her Diploma in Nature Conservation (2020), Advanced Diploma in Nature Conservation (2021) and BSc  in Ecology (2022) from the University of Mpumalanga, South Africa. 
Past Lab Grad Students and Postdocs
2014-2017, postdoc. Julie Aleman. Research Scientist, CNRS, CEREGE. 
2014-2020, PhD. Maddy Case. Supervisory Research Ecologist, USGS.
2017-2019, postdoc. Josh Daskin. Head of Conservation, Archbold Biological Station.
2017-2019, postdoc. Maggie Simon. Postdoc, University of Florida.
2017-2023, PhD. Arielle Biro. Postdoc, Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies.
2018-2022, postdoc. Yong Zhou. Assistant Professor, Utah State University.
2019-2021, postdoc. Anabelle Cardoso. Postdoc, University of Buffalo.
2019-2021, postdoc. Chao Wu. Postdoc, University of Utah.

Nothando Ngobeni, Emmanuel Oduro Takyi, Carla Staver, Marie Norwood, Riley Wadehra on the Experimental Burn Plots, Kruger National Park, South Africa. Photo credit: Neil Goldberg.