Grad student fellows and undergrad assistants
Gordon Bennett

Gordon Bennett
Graduate student, Dept of Environmental Science, Policy and Management

"My research focuses on the systematics and biogeography of native Hawaiian leafhoppers. I am also interested in the coevolutionary relationships between this group, their host plants, and endosymbiotic bacteria. Other projects I have worked on include the phylogeography of Banana Bunchy Top Virus and the evolution of Drosophila worldwide. Prior to my graduate work, I taught high school science (e.g., Chemistry, Biology). These experiences have inspired me to make my long-term goal the promotion and integration of public education with my research program. I get excited about sharing experiential learning opportunities with open and eager minds. In my off-time I take pleasure in backpacking in eastern and northern California. I also do a lot of backcountry and freestyle skiing. On a day-to-day basis, music and literature are a big part of my life."

Rebecca Chaplin-Kramer

Rebecca Chaplin-Kramer
Graduate student, Dept of Environmental Science, Policy and Management (Essig Museum of Entomology)

"I grew up interested in ecology because I thought it would take me to fantastically exotic places. And it did at first: coral reefs in the Caribbean, tidepools along the Pacific, mountaintops in the Sierras, grasslands in Tasmania. But where I've found my true passion in ecology is somewhere I never imagined I'd wind up, somewhere we all rely on and enjoy three times a day even if we never go there. That place is a farm. Perhaps not on the top of your list of vacation destinations, but bursting with ecological questions, and more exotic than you might think at first. I am studying how to control pests without pesticides, by enhancing communities of insects that prey on the pests. High habitat diversity in the landscape around the farm can promote more diverse and abundant populations of these beneficial insects, and I'm trying to determine what role the landscape might play in achieving successful pest control. My work really drives home the point that biodiversity is everywhere, not just in a rainforest or a museum, but all around us and sustaining us in ways we don't even realize until we stop and look a little closer."

Kali Lader

Kali Lader
Graduate Student, Dept of Plant & Microbial Biology

"I study how plants and fungi interact with each other. I've always been interested in how organisms share space, resources, and defenses. Not all interactions in nature are based on competition and predation — I am most interested in those interactions that involve cooperation. Specifically, I am investigating fungi that live on and in the needles of the coast redwood. Through observation it has been discovered that the redwood doesn't mind having these fungi on their foliage and I want to find out why. What is so special about these fungi? Are they helping the tree to take in fog water through the leaves? Are they blocking other harmful fungi or bacteria from living on the needles? What do these fungi get from the tree? I love to teach, and have been doing so in many different forms since I was in middle school. To me the most rewarding experience is when someone finally understands a difficult concept and you see their whole face light up with this new understanding and the implications of this new knowledge when applied to what they already know. I am looking forward to new teaching experiences in the GK-12 program. Off campus I am known as a bookworm, swing dancer, snowboarder, and swimmer."

Chris Nasrallah

Chris Nasrallah
Graduate student, Dept of Integrative Biology (Museum of Vertebrate Zoology)

"Knowing the evolutionary relationships among species is central to understanding biodiversity, but how do we determine how different species are related to each other? The clues to the evolutionary past are hidden in the genomes of every organism on the planet. My research develops computer programs that can analyze genetic data to find and interpret these clues to determine the evolutionary relationships among organisms. These computer programs allow other biologists, who work hard to collect data from the field, to analyze their data and learn more about the evolutionary forces that have shaped the biodiversity we see around us. I am excited to show students in the GK-12 program how mathematics and computers are essential in helping us to understand our world. Outside of my research I enjoy barbecue, watching animation, and playing jazz."

Rachel Okrent

Rachel Okrent
Graduate Student, Dept of Plant & Microbial Biology

"I am fascinated by the variety of chemicals that plants make to interact with their environment. Many of these chemicals are used by people as dyes and medicines. One chemical made by many plants, salicylic acid, is the active ingredient in aspirin. Salicylic acid helps protect the plants from attack by pathogens like fungi and bacteria. I study how salicylic acid and similar chemicals are modified in the plant after a pathogen attack in order to learn more about how plants defend themselves against pathogens. I was inspired to study science by participating in a research project in a vision science lab during high school. I was intrigued how science helps you understand more about how the world works. By participating in the GK-12 program, I hope to help engage students in the process of doing science and refine my own understanding of teaching and learning. When not in the lab, I enjoy reading, dancing, and exploring the Bay Area."

Andrew Rush
Graduate Student, Dept of Integrative Biology (Museum of Vertebrate Zoology)

Text to come.

Jessica Shade

Jessica Shade
Graduate Student, Dept of Integrative Biology

"Spreading wildflower seeds is one of the most popular parts of restoration. In the spring a vivid array of colorful flowers bloom, while the plants enhance the ecosystem by stabilizing the soil, providing shade for seedlings, and, in some cases, adding nutrients to the soil. I work with sky lupines and dove lupines, showy little plants with bright violet flowers, which are commonly used in restoration. I am studying the lupine populations that supply seed to restoration areas and determining how the diversity of the source populations effects the long-term survival of the flowers planted in restoration sites. I cannot wait to share my enthusiasm for the natural world with students involved in the GK-12 program. Outside of biology I enjoy painting, playing music, backpacking, and designing clothing."

Molly Wright

Molly Wright
Graduate Student, Dept of Integrative Biology (UC Museum of Paleontology)

"The ocean is an amazing and sometimes alien world — the invertebrate animals that live in it look like they are straight out of a science fiction movie. I am interested in the reproductive behaviors of these strange creatures, since they find so many diverse ways of living and reproducing. In particular, I study mantis shrimps, some of the strangest crustaceans around. Mantis shrimps have arms (raptorial appendages) that look like those of a praying mantis, which they use to capture food and to fight. They are really aggressive, which poses a problem for mating — they are more likely to fight a mate than to reproduce with it! I study a group of mantis shrimps that have evolved social monogamy to try to determine what environmental and population factors led to the evolution of social monogamy in these bizarre, but wonderful, creatures. When I'm not under the sea studying mantis shrimps, I like to spend time on land hiking, playing the guitar, hanging out with friends, and reading. I'm excited to share my enthusiasm for the ocean and biological inquiry with students in Moorea, French Polynesia, through the GK-12 program!"

 

Previous Years

Student profiles for 2008–2009 Graduate Fellows and Undergraduate Assistants
Student profiles for 2007–2008 Graduate Fellows and Undergraduate Assistants
Student profiles for 2006–2007 Graduate Fellows and Undergraduate Assistants
Student profiles for 2005–2006 Graduate Fellows and Undergraduate Assistants
Student profiles for 2004–2005 Graduate Fellows and Undergraduate Assistants
Student profiles for 2003–2004 Graduate Fellows and Undergraduate Assistants

 
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