Sunshine Van Bael

Dr. Sunshine Van Bael’s (she/her) laboratory studies community ecology with emphases on symbioses and plant-animal interactions. Broadly, we are interested in how plants, animals and fungi become involved in symbioses with other organisms to feed themselves and defend themselves from enemies. We are involved in projects in Ecuador, Panama and in the southeastern US that include microbial ecology, chemical ecology, biodiversity conservation, coastal restoration and agroecology.

Rosa Soria

Dr. Rosa Soria (she/her) is a postdoctoral fellow who explores the interaction between tropical forest diversity and microbial communities. Her research interests include soil health, soil ecology, soil restoration, heavy metals, soil geochemistry, biochar, and carbon sequestration. She is also interested in outreach activities aimed to visibilize the participation of women in science.

Judith Santano

Judith Santano (she/they) is a PhD student interested in using ecosystem processes to quantify environmental degradation and uncover what mechanisms drive these patterns at varying scales. Their questions seek to understand how individual actions scale up to shape ecosystem wide patterns, and how those actions are influenced by ecological forces and environmental conditions. Broadly, they are interested in pollination ecology, avian behavior, and networks.

Bolívar Aponte-Rolón

Bolívar Aponte-Rolón (he/him) is a Ph.D. student interested in studying bacterial and fungal endophytic communities in tropical forests and mangrove ecosystems. His research interests are, broadly, tropical ecology, agroecology, mycology and myrmecology.

Elizabeth MacDougal

Elizabeth MacDougal (she/her) is a Ph.D. student who studies mycorrhizal and root endophyte fungi in Louisiana wetlands. She is interested in the role they can play in ecological restoration, and her current research evaluates whether sand made from recycled glass can be used to restore damaged coastal ecosystems.

Jacob Dixon

Jacob Dixon (he/him) is a Ph.D. student interested in endophytic and epiphytic fungi in plant species in the Convolvulaceae – mostly in the genus Ipomoea – and their effect on specialist and generalist tortoise beetles. He is also interested in endophytic fungal alkaloids and the ecological role they play in affecting insect herbivore development. His research interests include ecological biochemistry, coevolution, and entomology.

Bek Markel

Bek Markel (they/them) completed a MS degree on baldcypress endophytes and is currently a research technician working on coastal restoration projects

Dillon Wheeler

Dillon Wheeler (he/him) is an MS student with interests in plant-microbial-insect interactions

Enze Zong

Enze Zong (he/him) is a MS student with interests in plant microbial ecology

Noah Roheim

Noah Roheim (he/him) is a MS student with interests in plant microbial ecology. He cares for over 100 plants at home. 

A sample of undergraduates in 2023

(not showing: Iker Yturralde and Siena Paxman)

Lab alumni

Gone but not forgotten! Much gratitude to our lab alumni! Demetra Kandalepas, Stephen Suchy, Jordan Hoffman, Taryn Farber, Ryan Wolfe, Matthew Moore, George Washburn, Casy Gu, Joshua Lerner, Kathalina Tran, James Sebes, Elaine Broussard, Ivana Levy, Keiana Cave, Mallory Kiefer, Rebecca Flournoy, Aurora Duncan, Alison Harrington, Kaylee Arnold, Brittany Bernik, Alexander Freeman, Jennifer Janowsky, Amelia Lormand, Emma Darr, Miranda Hendrix, Emma Tower, Kimberly Mighell, Erin Chapman, Candice Lumibao, Lorena Torres-Martinez, Trey Hendrix, Rebecca Wang, Rachel Froehlich, Alexandra Greengrass, Jacklyn Drewry, Max Berdik, Carolyn Babendreier, Brittany Maldonado, Julia Simon, Clare Lister, Meg Maurer, Steven Medina, Callie Oliver, Elizabeth Kimbrough, Bek Markel, Peter Tellez, Stephen Formel, Lucy Murray, Reid Belanger, Kayla Quincy, Selisha Garrett, Molly Duncan, Nath Clarke, Anya Mukundan, Nico Potoker, Judge Sanchez, Emily Nochowicz, Hannah Fabian, Blaine Martin, Chloe Malouf, Mareli Sanchez Julia, Mia Lopez, Jory Tanaka