Graduate Students

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Molly Barrett, MS

Principal Investigator – Dr. Saunders

Molly joins Purdue’s Department of Forestry and Natural Resources from Northern Arizona where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in forestry with a minor in biology. Molly’s research is focused on regeneration response of oaks to prescribed fire and gap-based harvesting in the Central Hardwood Forest Region (CHFR).

Andrea Brennan, PhD

Andrea Brennan, PhD – van Eck Scholar

Principal Investigator – Dr. Jacobs

Andrea argues that technology, ecology, and society are key considerations to the successful restoration of threatened tree species.  Her research is focused on the butternut tree (Juglans cinerea), currently being attacked by the fungus that causes butternut canker disease (Ophiognomonia clavigignenti-juglandacearum).  In particular, she is evaluating the use of hybrid butternut trees as a potential restoration tool through disease screening, assessment of environmental tolerances, and evaluation of perceptions to the use of hybrid trees for restoration.

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Sarah Cuprewich, MS – van Eck Scholar

Principal Investigator – Dr. Saunders

I am originally from New Jersey and attended the University of Vermont for my undergraduate education in environmental science, with a concentration in conservation biology and biodiversity. I’ll be working in conjunction with the US Forest Service’s Joint Fire Sciences Program-funded study measuring different effects of prescribed fire, such as oak regeneration.

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Aziz Ebrahimi, PhD

Principal Investigator – Dr. Jacobs

Azia is a PhD student at Purdue University, studying whole genome and genes related to cold tolerance in walnut and koa.  Aziz’s interest is in landscape genetics, phylogeny and evolution of tree species, and he has utilized genetics, genomics, and bioinformatics tools to address questions in that area of research.


Sayon Ghosh, PhD

Principal Investigator – Dr. Saunders


Bradley Graham – PhD

Bradley Graham – PhD

Principal Investigator – Dr. Jenkins

The primary objectives of Brad’s dissertation research are to quantify the carbon storage capacity of Central Hardwood Region forests by assessing remaining old-growth stands across the region and to investigate long-term changes in carbon storage reservoirs through repeated measurements.


Scott Gula, MS

Principal Investigators -Dr. Ginzel and Dr. Couture

Host-plant interactions of long-horned beetles.

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Lilian Ayala Jacobo, MS

Principle Investigator – Dr. Jacobs and Dr. Woeste

Cold tolerance and genetic diversity of populations of Acacia koa from different altitudes.

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Madeline Montague, MS – van Eck Scholar

Principal Investigator – Dr. Jacobs

Below-ground interactions in mixed hardwood forests containing American chestnut.

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Alison Ochs, MS

Principle Investigator  – Dr. Saunders

She studies the short and long term effects of timber management on terrestrial salamanders. In particular, she focuses on the effects of prescribed fire, the different effects of clearcuts, shelterwood harvest, and uneven age management, and how far into surrounding forest such effects reach.

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Brande (Bee) Overbey, PhD

Principal Investigator – Dr. Jacobs

Bee’s research focuses on the role that birds play in forest restoration through seed dispersal, scatter hoarding, germination and pollination, and how to maximize the impact of these behaviors through our forest management strategies.

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Minjee (Sylvia) Park, PhD

Principal Investigators – Dr. Couture and Dr. Jacobs

Minjee’s research is characterizing abiotic and biotic tree stress using hyperspectral information.

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Sarah Rademacher, MS

Principal Investigator – Dr. Jenkins

Sarah’s research will be studying the effects of overstory manipulation and the reintroduction of fire on oak regeneration within an oak-hickory woodland. Mesophication due to lack of fire on the landscape is encouraging shade tolerant species to thrive and oak regeneration to decline. This project assists in the understanding of how these land management techniques could benefit oak restoration in oak woodlands.



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Summer Rathfon, MS

Principal Investigators – Dr. Jenkins and Dr. Woeste

Summer is a new graduate student this fall!

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Benjamin (Ben) Rivera, MS

Principal Investigator – Dr. Jenkins and Dr. Meilan

Ben is originally from Oregon and graduated from Kalamazoo College with a degree in Biology and Environmental Studies.  Currently, Ben’s research focuses on the effect of honeysuckle removal on the surrounding ecosystem and the effectiveness of different strategies of removal in Indiana forests.

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Kelsey Tobin, PhD

Principle Investigator – Dr. Ginzel


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Geoffrey Williams, PhD – van Eck Scholar

Principle Investigator – Dr. Ginzel

Geoff’s interests include forest biometrics, community ecology, and management, with a focus on forest health and fungal ecology. He is currently researching Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD), an emergent fungus-beetle complex which kills walnut (Juglans) trees when the fungal pathogen Geosmithia morbida is introduced to the inner bark by the walnut twig beetle (Pityophthorus juglandis). Specifically, he is looking at community interactions that may influence the severity of the disease and the physiological tolerance of G. morbida to stress such as desiccation of its substrate, e.g. dry walnut wood. You can learn more about Geoff’s past and current research on his website.

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Recep (Rich) Yildiz, MS

Principle Investigator – Dr. Meilan and Dr. Woeste

I am from Turkey and graduated from Karadeniz Technical University-Forest Engineering Department as a forest engineer, in Turkey, in 2012 . I will be studying on forest tree breeding and quantitative genetics.