I became chair of the Student Section and it changed my life. In this position, I felt like a part of the scientific community, instead of just an apprentice to it.
— Jenny Talbot, 2008 Chair of the Student Section

2017-2018 Officers


Kelsey E. Fisher (Iowa State University)


As chair, I have the opportunity to work with a great team of passionate students to better the Ecological Society of America student experience. This year, our focus is connecting students to the student section and connecting students with other students to foster collaborative relationships within the Ecological Society of America. Additionally, I plan to maintain the upkeep of the digital resources webpage, help students understand a diversity of career opportunities, and help undergraduate students understand and navigate the transition into graduate school.


I am originally from the east coast where I earned my B.S. in Biology from Widener University and M.S. in Entomology from the University of Delaware. I am currently a Ph.D. student studying Entomology at Iowa State University with Dr. Steven P. Bradbury. I am a member of ISU Monarch Workgroup where we focus research efforts on monarch butterfly recovery (monarch.ent.iastate.edu). To aid in conservation decisions, I am focused on understanding adult movement and landscape utilization in the monarch’s summer breeding grounds (Iowa) by employing genetic and radio telemetry techniques.

CONTACT INFO: kelseyfisher2 [at] gmail.com

CV: FisherKelsey_CV_Jan2018.pdf


Rob Crystal-Ornelas (Rutgers University)


As vice chair, I help to coordinate workshops at the ESA annual meeting and engage students throughout the year.  I also coordinate the student section liaisons who are critical in providing the student section with updates from the many sections and chapters within the ESA.


I am a PhD candidate in the Graduate Program in Ecology and Evolution at Rutgers University. I conduct meta-research within the field of invasion ecology. Invasive species impacts can be difficult to measure, and I work to identify whether invasion impact research is biased in the taxa or ecosystems where studies takes place. Currently, I'm working on a systematic review and meta-analysis to analyze the magnitude and scope of research bias in the invasive species impact literature.  This year, I'm a visiting graduate researcher at UC Davis' Bodega Marine Lab out in California.  In my free time I enjoy working on art projects and trail running.

CONTACT INFO: rob.crystal.ornelas [at]

CV: Crystal-OrnelasRob_CV_2018.pdf

WEBSITE: www.robcrystalornelas.org


Luke Lamb-Wotton (Florida International University)


Role: As student section secretary, I organize and coordinate ESA Student Section activities and members throughout the year as well as in preparation for the ESA annual meeting. I have a strong passion for effective mentoring and as a Student Section officer one of my goals is to provide undergraduates considering graduate school with knowledgeable advice about navigating the rocky road that is grad school.


I am a Masters student of the Biological Sciences program at Florida International University in sunny Miami, FL. As a member of the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research unit (FCE-LTER: www.fcelter.fiu.edu), my lab group collects data on the effects of climate change and hydrology on communities within the Florida Everglades. I am broadly interested in sea-level rise (SLR) as a mechanism of ecosystem change within the Everglades and work to increase understanding regarding these mechanisms. My thesis specifically addresses how SLR induces peat collapse via the interactive press-pulse dynamic of SLR and fire by altering accretion rates and organic matter dynamics. I received a B.S. in Biology from the University of Maine in 2016 with minors in chemistry and anthropology where I developed deep interests in ecosystem ecology, particularly related to biogeochemistry, wetlands, and paleoecology.

Contact Info: llamb009 [at] fiu.edu

Twitter: @lukewotton1

Greg Chorak (Montana State University)


As treasurer, I manage the student section’s finances and communicate with ESA’s Chief Financial Officer.  In addition, I plan section events for annual meetings with fellow executive officers.


I am originally from Muskegon, Michigan but now live in Bozeman, Montana. My main areas of interest are in evolutionary ecology and population genetics. I earned my M.Sc. in Aquatic Biology at Grand Valley State University’s Robert B. Annis Water Resources Institute in 2017. My masters focused on understanding the genetic structuring of a small bodied game fish (yellow perch) in Lake Michigan and how connected water ways in Eastern Lake Michigan affected that structuring. I am now in my first year as a Ph.D. student in the plant sciences department at Montana State University where I will continue to focus on evolutionary genetics of populations, specifically aquatic invasive plant populations. I am most interested in how hybridization of invasive species leads to more invasive individuals and what genes may be contributing to herbicide tolerance within our system.

CONTACT INFO: gregory.chorak [at] student.montana.edu


Jon Giddens (University of Oklahoma)


As the social media coordinator, I help disseminate information about section news, as well as other information relevant to students.  This includes newly published papers, job openings, grant opportunities, and student events throughout the year and at the annual meetings.  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @esa_students!



I grew up in Oklahoma spending a lot of my time outdoors which helped guide me on the path to my love of nature and the world around me.  I am currently a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Oklahoma in the Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology. My research focuses on the plant-water interactions in tress using a wide scope of ecophysiological techniques.  Specifically, my dissertation work focuses on the grassland invading conifer species, eastern redcedar, which is spreading across the great plains at a rapid rate.  To investigate the impact on the water budget and the hydraulic strategies of this species I am evaluating the source of water uptake, total water use, and drought tolerance traits across a precipitation gradient in Oklahoma.

CONTACT: jongiddens [at] ou.edu

CV: GiddensJon_CV_2018.pdf

FACEBOOK: ESA Student Section Facebook

TWITTER: @esa_students


Leonardo Calle (Montana State University)


I manage our website. If you are interested in helping manage the website or have suggestions for improvement, feel free to contact the student section or myself.


I am in the fourth year of Doctoral studies in the Ecology Department at Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana. I am advised by Benjamin Poulter, Prabir Patra, Dave Roberts, and Jia Hu. My dissertation research investigates the role of land-use change in creation of secondary forests, and the role of secondary forests in the global carbon cycle. The research is primarily conducted via computer simulation of global biogeochemical cycles, with a focus on terrestrial processes, and evaluation against inventory and satellite-based observations. The involves model development of the Lund Potsdam Jena (LPJ) dynamic global vegetation model (DGVM), coded in the C programming language.

CONTACT INFO: leonardo.meiji [at] gmail.com

CV: CalleLeonardo_CV_Apr2018.pdf

PROFILES: ResearchGate, GoogleScholar, GitHub

Past Officers


Josh Scholl: Chair

Kelsey Fisher: Vice Chair

Anna Groves: Secretary

Rob Pecchia: Treasurer

Amanda Sorensen: Co-Webmaster

Leo Calle: Co-Webmaster


Winslow Hansen: Chair

Josh Scholl: Vice Chair

Kristin Michels: Co-Secretary

Jessica Klassen: Co-Secretary

Kelsey Fisher: Treasurer

Kika Tarsi Tuff: Webmaster


Dane Ward: Co-Chair

Kate Gallagher: Co-Chair

Winslow Hansen: Vice Chair

Nicole Boone: Secretary

Josh Scholl: Treasurer


Kika Tarsi Tuff: Chair

Dane Ward: Co-Vice Chair

Kate Gallagher: Co-Vice Chair

Dayani Pieri: Secretary

Josh Scholl: Treasurer


Joey Bernhardt: Chair

Kika Tarsi Tuff: Vice Chair

Dayani Pieri: Secretary

Josh Scholl: Treasurer


Jorge Ramos: Chair

Joey Bernhardt: Vice Chair

Dayani Pieri: Secretary


Naupaka Zimmerman: Chair

Jorge Ramos: Vice Chair

Dayani Pieri: Secretary


Jenny Talbot: Chair

The biggest surprise of being an officer of the Student Section was discovering just how powerful, respected and integral we are to the Society as a whole [...]. It is stimulating to be a part of a group of intellectual and creative minds that work together to get things done.
— Andréa Kuchy, 2011 Vice-Chair of the Student Section