Lab Members


Karen Abbott

Principle Investigator

Ph.D. 2006 Ecology & Evolution, U. Chicago

B.S. 2001 Biology / Mathematics, Vanderbilt

Karen studies mathematical models of ecological processes to better understand how species interactions and environmental variability generate the patterns we see in nature.

Chris, Chris, Karen, and Ben at Katie’s poster, Intersections, 2014

Chris Stieha      Chris’s website

Postdoc, 2014-2017

Ph.D. 2012 and M.S. 2008 Ecology, U. Kentucky

B.S. 2003 Chemistry, U. Kentucky

Effects of plant defenses on insect herbivore dynamics.

after Abbott lab: Assistant Prof. of Biology, Millersville U.

Chris Moore      Chris’s website

Postdoc, 2014-2017

Ph.D. 2014 Ecology, Evolution & Conservation Biology, U. Nevada Reno

B.S. 2005 Biology, Cal State Polytechnic, Pomona

Population dynamics of mutualistic interactions.

after Abbott lab: Assistant Prof. of Biology, Colby College

Sam Catella

Ph.D. student

B.S. 2010 Molecular Environmental Biology, UC Berkeley

Sam is studying the effects of multiple abiotic variables with distinct spatial properties on plant community composition and distributions.

Past lab members

Katie Dixon       Katie’s website

M.S. 2017 Biology

B.S. 2015 Biology (honors), CWRU

Spatial models of canine distemper virus and dispersal in Galapagos sea lions.

after Abbott lab: Ph.D. program, Ecology & Evolution, U. Chicago

Fang (Frances) Ji

Ph.D. student

B.S. 2016 Forestry, Shandong Agricultural University

Frances has a broad background in basic and applied forestry.  She is using mathematical models to better understand forest insect outbreaks and insect population dynamics for her Ph.D.

Brian Lerch

Undergrad honors student

& MS-track researcher

B.S. anticipated 2019 Biology (honors)   / Mathematics, CWRU

M.S. anticipated 2019 Biology, CWRU

Brian models social species, like African wild dogs, to understand how group structure and Allee effects influence population dynamics and evolution of cooperative behavior.

Tejas Joshi

M.S. 2017 Applied Math

B.S. 2017 Applied Mathematics / Biology, CWRU

Ecological model of the gut microbiome during C. difficile colitis.

after Abbott lab: Northwestern University Medical School

Adrienne Damicis

Undergrad honors student

B.S. 2017 Biology (honors) / Medical Anthropology, CWRU

Point pattern analysis of herbaceous plant communities.

after Abbott lab: MS program, Biostatistics in Public Health, Ohio State

Ben Nolting         Ben’s website

Postdoc, 2014-2016

Ph.D. 2013 and M.S. 2009 Mathematics, U. Nebraska Lincoln

B.S. 2006 Mathematics, U. Alaska Anchorage

Stochastic processes in ecology.

after Abbott lab: Assistant Prof. of Mathematics, Chico State

Kasey Kiesewetter

Undergrad honors student (co-advised with Jean Burns)

B.S. 2016 Biology (honors), CWRU

Effects of climate change on ant-mediated seed dispersal

after Abbott/Burns labs: Ph.D. program, Ecology, U. Miami

Andrew Freedman

Undergraduate researcher (co-advised with Jean Burns)

B.S. Systems Biology / B.A. Evolutionary Biology 2016 CWRU

Role of ant seed dispersal behavior on plant coexistence in a spatially-explicit model.

after Abbott/Burns labs: Teaching Assistant and Research Volunteer, CWRU Math/Biology

Ryan Rego         Ryan’s website

Undergraduate researcher

B.A. Economics / M.P.H. Global Health 2017 CWRU

Combining disease ecology and economics to evaluate interventions that limit disease spread post natural disaster.

after Abbott lab: Undergraduate researcher, Yax lab, CWRU Emergency Medicine

Aubrie James  Aubrie’s website

Undergraduate researcher

and Research Technician

B.S. 2012 Animal Ecology, Iowa State

Effects of climate change on migratory bird populations.

after Abbott lab: Ph.D. program, Ecology, Cornell University

Nick Fabina       Nick’s website

Undergraduate researcher (in Tony Ives’s lab)

B.S. 2009 Economics / Mathematics, U. Wisconsin

Ph.D. 2014 Ecology, UC Davis

Ecology and evolution of phenological shifts in plant-pollinator-herbivore systems.

after Ives lab: Ph.D. program, Ecology, UC Davis

Karen giving a talk, MBI, 2013

An ongoing investigation (anxiously awaiting the results)

Joe Wan              Joe’s website

Collaborator & honorary lab


B.S. 2016 Computer Science/Biology, Stanford

Joe’s work seeks to understand how interactions between species shape ecosystem cycles.  Currently, he is applying plant competition models from community ecology to study nutrient and carbon cycling in forests.

Amy Patterson

Ph.D. student

B.A. 2015 Biological Sciences – Ecology & Evolution, Wash U.

Amy is interested in using stochastic mathematical models to understand the stability and instability of plant community composition.

Gleb Zhelezov

Postdoc, 2017

Ph.D. 2017 Mathematics, U. Arizona

B.S. 2011 Mathematics/Physics, Texas A&M

Stochastic spatial ecological models.

after Abbott lab: Postdoc, U. Edinburgh

Alex Strang

Ph.D. student in Applied Math (co-advised with Peter


B.S. 2015 Physics, CWRU

Alex is interested in applications of statistical mechanics to stochastic population models.

Kristen Buse

High school student

Kristen is studying how patterns in herbaceous-layer plant species change with scale.  She is currently a senior at Mentor High School and plans to study computer science.