Assistant Professor
Dr. A. Michelle Lawing

Michelle studies the response of species and communities to environmental change in the past and present and uses that knowledge to inform our understanding of what to expect under impending climate change. Michelle received her BS and MS in biology at the Univ of Texas at Arlington before getting her PhD at Indiana Univ in ecology, evolution, and behavior and in geological sciences. Michelle spent a year as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) before joining the department of Ecosystem Science and Management.
Graduate Students
Louis Addae-Wireko


Louis studies spatial ecology and management help to implement natural resources conservation and management solutions. He uses Geo-Information Science, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing techniques and products to solve rangeland resources management problems, allocation of conservation efforts and resources, and wildlife distribution problems.


Leila Siciliano-Martina


Leila studies the evolution of morphology in captive mammal species. She is interested in applying quantitative methods, such as geometric morphometrics, to study the potential causes and consequences of evolutionary changes in the mammalian skull. Leila received her masters degree in zoology from Michigan State University. She is also currently an adjunct biology instructor for Our Lady of the Lake University (San Antonio, TX). Leila’s research is being co-advised by Jessica Light (WFSC).

Rachel Short


Rachel studies functional aspects of form in postcranial skeletal material in ungulates. She is interested in developing an ecometric to help reconstruct ancient climates and the most likely vegetation cover given the distribution of ungulate ankle bone morphology at a fossil site. She has a master’s degree in Geosciences with a concentration in Paleontology from East Tennessee State University and a second master’s degree in Teaching from University of Maine. Rachel is describing a new species of Teleoceras (rhinoceros) from the Late Miocene Gray Fossil Site.

John Jacisin


John studies the link between morphology and physiology in North American snakes and is interested in creating an ecometric tool for understanding snake faunal dynamics in changing environments of the past, present, and future. John received his masters degree in Geological Sciences from the University of Oregon, where he worked on describing fossil newts.


James West


James is interested in horned lizard (Phrynosoma) response to climate change. He studies shifts in their geographic distribution, evolution of head shape, and head shape association with behavior and habitat. He interned for several summers conducting mark recapture surveys for Flat-Tailed Horned Lizards as part of the Flat-Tailed Horned Lizard Interagency Coordinating Group in southern California. James received his undergraduate degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from Texas A&M University.

Lab Alumni

Dr. Beth Reinke

Beth was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Lawing Lab and earned her PhD in Ryan Calsbeek's lab at Dartmouth College. She is an evolutionary ecologist interested in visual signaling, pigment physiology, and the evolution of color. She has worked primarily with turtles, frogs, and lizards and is currently expanding her research to include other diverse and colorful taxa.
Links: Beth's Page

Emily Spears


Emily studied the environmental influences on leaf morphological structure within and between communities in the Big Thicket National Preserve in southeast Texas. Emily spent many days in the S. M. Tracy Herbarium photographing leafs from inventories of the Big Thicket. She is also interested in Bryophytes, especially Hedwigia.


Chase Brooke


Chase graduated with his Master of Science degree from the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. He is interested in the geography of fire occurrence. He has become an expert in species distribution modeling, specifically Maxent, to understand which climatic, geographic, and ecological variables are important in modeling fire occurrence over the last 15 or so years.

Walter Holm


Walter is a Spatial Science alumni from the Ecosystem Science and Management Department where he studied the distribution of green space and the relationship between sociological and environmental factors that influence the spatial distribution of green space within cities. Walter was a teaching intern for ESSM 464 Spatial Project Management and ESSM 462 Advanced GIS.

Wesley Vermillion

Wesley studies the effects of climate change on the evolution of organisms, in particular chelonians (turtles). For his master’s thesis, he collected evidence of climatic influence on chelonian evolution through habitat modeling, phylogenetics and geometric morphometrics. He will continue these lines of research while incorporating other quantitative paleontological and paleoecological methods (such as stable isotopes) to study how chelonians responded to climatic changes over differing time scales, differing habitats/continents, and between taxonomic groups.