Mike Jenkins: Professor

Profile image of Mike JenkinsAs an ecologist, I seek to understand how forests are changing and what factors are driving that change. In particular, I study the effects of disturbance and how disturbance regimes have changed due to human influence. Invasive species are also a major focus of my research program. I am interested in how they establish in forests, the effects they have on native species, and how they interact with and influence disturbance regimes. With regard to disturbance, I have focused on fire, forest management, herbivory by white-tailed deer, and the gap dynamics of old-growth forests. My work with invasive species has included non-native plants, as well insects and disease which often act as a disturbance when they attack overstory tree species. 

I have been on the faculty at Purdue for 13 years. For me, joining the faculty was coming home, I finished my PhD at Purdue in 1998. Prior to returning, I spent 10 years working for the National Park Service as an ecologist in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Smokies are my favorite place on earth and I continue to do research there whenever possible. 


Richard Sample: PhD studentProfile image of Richard Sample

Richard (RD) is part of a collaborative project that is studying the management and ecological effects of white-tailed deer across the state of Indiana. As part of this project, he is examining the successional changes in native plant communities that are brought on by different levels deer browsing. He is also examining the utility of different techniques to assess browse.

RD received his BS in Biology from the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, before receiving his MS in Forest Resources from the University of Arkansas-Monticello. His MS thesis focused on the environment effects of seasonal nitrogen cycling in trees. His research interests are ecologically focused, with special interests in how different species interact, wildlife management, and habitat conservation.


Sarah Rademacher: MS studentProfile picture of Sarah Rademacher

Sarah is studying the impacts of overstory manipulation and reintroduction of fire on oak forests on the Hoosier National Forest. She is evaluating the response of overstory trees, fuels, woody regeneration, and herbaceous vegetation to help managers better understand how silviculture and prescribed fire can be best applied to the restoration and maintenance of oak forests. 

Sarah grew up in Minnesota but spent her undergraduate years at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point majoring in Forest Ecosystem Restoration and Management. Her undergrad research focused on soil carbon and nitrogen dynamics and vegetation composition of mitigated wet meadows. After graduation, she spent three years working as a habitat restoration technician in Minneapolis, MN.


Summer Rathfon: MS student

Through her research, Summer is seeking to understand the conservation status of relict eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) populations in Indiana forests. Her study examines the recruitment history, genetic variability, and potential threats to the survival of isolated populations scattered throughout Indiana. 

Previously, she studied at Southern Virginia University where she obtained her B.A. in biology. She also worked for the USDA Forest Service as a forestry technician in silviculture on the Nez-Perce Clearwater National Forest where she gained a greater appreciation for proper forest management practices and their lasting effects on forest ecosystems. She is co-advised by Drs. Keith Woeste and Mike Jenkins.


Cameron Dow: MS student

Cameron is working with the USDA Forest Service and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to determine the cause of recent unexplained chestnut oak mortality in southern Indiana. For his project, he’ll be visiting sites on state and national forests to determine the abiotic and biotic factors contributing to the mortality.

He received his BS in Environmental Science from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. He has previously worked with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute developing a novel method to analyze the impact of climate change on intra-annual wood growth phenology. During his time with the Smithsonian, he learned how sensitive certain tree species are to climate change and how forest health may suffer as a consequence.



Tori Hongo: MS student

Tori Hongo in the mountains

Tori is working with the National Park Service on a long-term study of spruce-fir forests in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Her research will evaluate changes in vegetation structure and composition as these forests continue to recover from widespread Fraser fir mortality caused by balsam woolly adelgid. She has worked in the Smokies the past two years monitoring forests, wetlands, and rare plants.

Tori received her B.S. in Biology from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee where she grew up. Her primary undergraduate research was an intersection of community ecology, microbiology, and herpetology as she studied the biodiversity of salamander microbiomes. Conducting research as an undergrad in addition to her positive experiences working as an ecology and environmental science lab assistant and studying abroad in Costa Rican rainforests led her to pursue forestry field work and research back home in Tennessee.



Gabriela Krochmal: MS studentPicture of Gabby in field.

Gabriela is part of a research team studying the ecological and economic effectiveness of federal cost-share programs to control  invasive plants on private lands. She will be examining native plant diversity, forest reproduction and annual tree growth. She is co-advised by Drs. Jingjing Liang and Mike Jenkins.

Gabriela grew up in Chicago where she received her B.S. in Environmental Science from Loyola University Chicago. There, she was an intern for the Office of Sustainability and later found her passion for fieldwork and research by taking field intensive courses at Loyola’s Ecology campus.

Her undergrad research experience was at the Center for Tree Science at the Morton Arboretum. Her research explored how the addition of nitrogen and phosphorus influence biological processes in a lowland tropical rainforest in Costa Rica. After graduation, she spent two years working as program assistant and intern for the Plant Pathology and Entomology lab at the Morton Arboretum. In this position she expanded the PlayCleanGo invasive species awareness campaign to state parks across Illinois and worked on multiple forest health related projects.


Thad Swart: MS student

Thad is researching the long-term effects of an invasive forest pest (emerald ash borer)Thad Swart doing field work for the National Park Service in Indiana forests. He is looking at the gap dynamics of dead ash (Fraxinus) trees in relict forests and using long term datasets to determine how forests responded to the sudden extirpation of an entire genus. His study sites include several Indiana state parks and the Davis-Purdue Research Forest.

Previously, Thad has worked for the National Park Service at Yosemite National Park, Indiana Dunes National Park, and Isle Royale National Park as a forester and botanist. He has studied forestry and professional writing at Michigan State University. Thad is co-advised by Drs. Mike Jenkins and Mike Saunders.





Former students and post-docs

Benjamin Rivera: MS

Thesis title: The Establishment, control, and post-control response of Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii). Ben graduated in 2021 and was co-advised by Dr. Richard Meilan. He is currently a PhD student at the University of California-Davis.

Jameson Pierce: MS

Thesis title: Interactive effects of landscape context, non-native plants, and deer abundance on forest plant communities in central Indiana. Jameson graduated in 2020 and is currently a Forester (Silviculture) with the Croatan National Forest in North Carolina.

Meghan Mulroy: MS

Thesis title: Forest ecosystem response to hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Meghan graduated in 2018 and is currently an Area Forester with the Virginia Department of Forestry.

Graham Frank: MS

Thesis title: Above- and belowground community responses to control techniques for the invasive shrub Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii [Rupr.] Herder) in mixed-hardwood forests of Indiana. Graham graduated in 2017 and is currently a PhD student at Oregon State University.

Kalli Dunn: MS

Thesis title: Dispersal and establishment of Pyrus calleryana in a central hardwood forest. Kalli graduated in 2017 and was co-advised by Dr. Michael Saunders. She is currently the Assistant Property Manager at the Glendale Fish and Wildlife Area with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Bryan Murray: Post-doc

Bryan studied functional diversity changes across multiple taxa in response to forest management. He was a post-doc from 2013-16 and is now an Assistant Professor of Forest Ecology and GIS at Oklahoma State University.

Robert Quackenbush: MS

Thesis title: An assessment of the competitive ability of oak species in the Central Hardwood Region using both pre-harvest treatment data and stem analysis techniques. Rob graduated in 2016 and is currently a County Forester with the Arkansas Forestry Commission.

Charlotte Owings: MS

Thesis title: Vegetation and underplanting response to Amur honeysuckle invasion and deer herbivory in mixed hardwood forests. Charlotte graduated in 2015 and was co-advised by Dr. Douglass Jacobs. She is currently the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment Coordinator with the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University.

Patrick Duffy: MS

Thesis title: Vegetation and soil characteristics of pine plantations and naturally regenerated hardwood forests. Patrick graduated in 2014 and is currently the General Manager of Natural Community Services, LLC. 

Christy Lowney: MS

Thesis title: Two decades of change in the structure and composition of old-growth forests in the Central Hardwood Region, USA. Christy graduated in 2013 and is currently a Research Specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum.

Robert Morrissey: PhD

Dissertation title: Long-term disturbance histories of managed and natural mixed-hardwood forests of central Indiana. Rob graduated in 2013 and was co-advised by Dr. Michael Saunders. He is currently an independent researcher and editor with Branch Scientific Editing. 

Joshua Shields:  PhD

Dissertation title: Effects of Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii [rupr.] herder) invasion and removal on native vegetation and white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) in mixed-hardwood forests of Indiana. Josh graduated in 2013 and is currently Outreach and Extension Forester with the Manistee Conservation District, MI.

J. Travis Swain: MS

Thesis title: Stand development and the competitive ability of oak (Quercus spp.) following silvicultural clearcutting on the Hoosier National Forest. Travis graduated in 2013 and is currently the Silviculturist for the Hoosier National Forest in Indiana.

Lindsay Keitzer: MS

Thesis title: Evaluating the recovery of vegetation communities in Indiana state parks after more than a decade of deer population reduction. Lindsay graduated in 2011 and is currently a Grants and Contracts Administrator at East Tennessee State University.

Amanda Penn: MS

Thesis title: Population dynamics and conservation genetics of butternut in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Amanda graduated in 2011 and was co-advised by Dr. Keith Woeste. She is currently a Research Technologist and Lab Manager with the Department of Biology at Pennsylvania State University.