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Graduate Students

image of darren woodDarren Wood
(Ph.D. student)

Originally Darren is from Central Pennsylvania, nested in between the Juniata and Susquehanna Rivers. Darren was able to pursue his passion for fisheries at Mansfield University. During his time there, he researched the recovery of a stream that was previously impacted by Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) using atomic analysis (AA) spectroscopy, red maple ( Acer rubrum) leaf breakdown rates, and macro-invertebrate diversity. After he attained his B.S. in Fisheries Biology, he came to West Virginia University and received his M.S. degree. His thesis research was on the effects of culverts on the genetic diversity of wild brook trout ( Salvelinus fontinalis). Darren has stayed on for his Ph.D. degree, switching to wildlife. His dissertation work focuses on the landscape genetics of white-tailed deer in West Virginia and the transmission of chronic wasting disease. When he is not teaching or researching, Darren enjoys hunting, fishing, hiking, and reading.

image of Meghan with birdMeghan Jensen
(Ph.D. student)

Born and raised in Binghamton New York, Meghan began pursuing her passion for wildlife research at Paul Smith’s College where she earned a B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Management and a B.S. in Biology. After working at an immunological research facility in the Adirondacks for two years, she continued her education at Buffalo State. There, she earned her Master’s degree in biology working on a conservation genetics study of the eastern hellbender salamander in New York and Pennsylvania. As a PhD student at WVU, she is working on a conservation genetics project on her original taxonomic passion: birds of prey. In particular, she is interested in population structure and gene expression in North American forest hawks (Accipiters). Outside of the lab, Meghan enjoys exploring the woods with her dog or engaging in numerous other outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, snorkeling, and SCUBA diving. She also volunteers as a wildlife rehabilitator and educator.

image of  Tom holding wolf-coyoteTom Rounsville
(Ph.D. student)

Tom is originally from the Reading area of southeastern Pennsylvania. While growing up, Tom participated in many camping and backpacking trips that instilled in him a passion for wildlife. Tom later attended Houghton College of Houghton, New York, and received a B.S. in Biology (2010). There he completed an honors research project that used genetic tools to investigate wolf-coyote hybrids in the local area. This introduction to using genetic tools to research wildlife led Tom to complete an M.S. degree from East Stroudsburg University (2012). At ESU, he researched the population and landscape genetics of coyote samples collected from across the eastern United States. At ESU, he also was an active participant in the field of wildlife forensics, where he completed more than 50 cases. As a Ph.D. student at WVU, Tom is investigating the population and landscape genetics of the bobcats of West Virginia.

image of Isaac holding fishIsaac Gibson
(M.S. student)

Isaac’s hometown is Morgantown, WV. He obtained a B.S. in Computer Science and a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries at WVU. His Master’s thesis involves researching genetic and morphometric diversity among populations of candy darters (Etheostoma osburni). Isaac is also a full time non-game fish biologist for the WV Division of Natural Resources. He travels the state monitoring and surveying our state’s fish communities. His many hobbies usually yield to fishing of styles for all species.


image of Lauren holding 2 turtlesLauren Schumacher

Lauren grew up in the small town of Saint Rose, Illinois. Her passion for the conservation of imperiled species led her to pursue a B.S. in Marine Biology from Florida Institute of Technology (2010) and a M.S. in Population and Conservation Biology from Texas State University (2015). For her Master’s thesis, Lauren utilized molecular markers to detect hybridization events between the Big Bed Slider and Red-eared slider in western Texas. She has worked on variety of projects involving ecosystem restoration and species monitoring. While at WVU, Lauren is using genetic techniques to assign lake sturgeon captured in Lake Superior to their most likely spawning site of origin. Lauren enjoys reading, cooking, and crafting in her free time.

Undergraduate Students

image of Jessica with owlJessica Bland

Jessica is originally from Riverton, West Virginia and is currently completing her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a minor in Wildlife and Fisheries Resources at WVU. Jessica has worked on wildlife population research in South Africa and has worked at the National Zoo & Aquarium in Canberra, Australia. She currently works at Cheat Lake Animal Hospital, tutors at the university, and volunteers at the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia. Her project at Wild Genomics involves genetic sex determination in king and clapper rails. Her hobbies include hiking, photography, stargazing, reading, baking, and scuba diving.

Avery with a dogAvery Owers

Avery grew up in Hamden, Connecticut and is currently completing her bachelor’s degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Resources. For her senior capstone project, she is comparing the prevalence of a protozoan in urban and exurban populations of Cooper’s hawks under Ph.D. student Meghan Jensen. Additionally, she is working with Ph.D. student Thomas Rounsville Jr. to evaluate population genetics and movement patterns of West Virginia’s bobcats. After graduation, she hopes to attend graduate school and continue to use genetics as a tool to better understand wildlife and fisheries populations. In her free time, Avery enjoys reading, playing guitar, hiking, camping, skiing, fishing, and hanging out with her dogs, Bob and Jane.

Tyler holding a fishTyler Plum

Tyler is originally from Shinnston, WV and is currently an undergraduate student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Resources at West Virginia University, with minors in Conservation Ecology and Applied Statistics. Tyler has worked with wildlife and fish in Maryland and West Virginia, including sharks, sturgeon, brook trout, and salamanders. He is a member of the student chapters of the American Fisheries Society and the The Wildlife Society. He enjoys reading, traveling, cooking, and watching films, as well as most outdoor activities like hunting and fishing. Tyler is studying changes in the genetic make-up of a population of lake sturgeon in Ontario over time.

Affiliated Students

image of Mack with birdMack Frantz
(Ph.D. student)

Mack was born and raised in southwestern PA where he also attended Point Park University under a Presidential Scholarship to receive a Bachelors degree in Biology. Mack spent two summers during his undergrad years operating bird banding stations on military bases as an intern for the Institute for Bird Populations, among other field technician jobs. He then went to grad school and received a MS degree in Biology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania where he conducted a radio telemetry study observing space and habitat use of the Golden-winged Warbler ( Vermivora chrysoptera). Mack is now currently going for his Ph.D. at WVU, advised by Dr. Petra Wood, where he plans to start epigenetic research on the Louisiana Waterthrush ( Parkesia motacilla). In his spare time, Mack likes to go hiking, running, birding, read, draw, and cook.

image of Lucas with fishLucas Nathan
(Ph.D. student)

Lucas was born and raised in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where he received his B.S. in Fisheries and Water Resources. He completed his M.S. at Central Michigan University with research focused on using environmental DNA (eDNA) to detect invasive species in the Great Lakes commercial bait trade. Lucas is now a Ph.D. student at the University of Connecticut and is advised by Dr. Jason Vokoun and Dr. Amy Welsh at West Virginia University. His dissertation research aims at studying the meta-population dynamics of brook trout in Connecticut’s headwater streams using a landscape genetics approach. In his free time, Lucas enjoys fishing, hunting, hiking, golfing, and watching Wisconsin’s sports teams.