Lauren joined the Botany Department at the University of Wyoming as an assistant professor in 2019. She is also faculty in the Program in Ecology (PiE). Before moving the the University of Wyoming, she was a James S. McDonnell Postdoc Fellow in Complex Systems Science, which has greatly influenced her approach to ecological research. Lauren is passionate about combining ecology, math, and complex systems science to answer pressing questions in population and community ecology. Lauren joined the editorial board at Ecology Letters in 2018.
She received her BA in biology and mathematics from Colorado College and her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Colorado along with a certificate in Interdisciplinary Quantitative Biology. She completed a postdoc in the University of Minnesota's Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior department before joining UW.
Melissa joined the Shoemaker lab in August 2020 as a postdoc in quantitative community ecology. Her research interests are centered around theoretically motivated questions such as: Why do some populations vary greatly in space and time while others are relatively stable? How does dispersal among patches with variable resource quality influence local population and community dynamics? Melissa received her PhD from Dartmouth college in July 2020 where her dissertation research was centered around the population dynamics of an abundant Arctic mosquito species (Aedes nigripes). Prior to her PhD, Melissa obtained an MSc from Humboldt State University studying patterns of understory plant community assemblage after wildfire across a serpentine soil productivity gradient. As a postdoc in the Shoemaker lab, Melissa builds on metacommunity modelling approaches to explore the role of species’ dispersal strategies on community assemblage and coexistence. She also develops new theory and mathematical approaches related to the intersection of disturbance and nutrient influx on herbaceous plant community dynamics as part of the DRAGnet global research network.
Dusty joined the lab in 2022 as part of the EPSCoR Modelscapes project. He completed a PhD in ecology and MSc in statistics from Oregon State University in 2022, during which he focused on patterns of pollinator movement and how they translate to plant population connectivity. More generally, he is interested in the assembly, maintenance, and evolution of ecological communities and the use of quantitative techniques, both theoretical and empirical, to gain a better understanding of complex systems and fundamental questions in ecology. As a part of the Modelscapes project, Dusty will be working on combining time-series analysis with sparse modeling approaches to leverage long-term datasets in an effort to parse out key biological interactions in speciose communities. He is additionally interested in developing models to understand how adaptive foraging of a pollinator community may interact with plant community synchrony and whether adaptive foraging can act as a stabilizing mechanism for plant communities.
Megan joined the lab in 2020 as a community ecologist studying how mechanisms of species coexistence shift in the context of climate change. For her PhD work she is interested in how dispersal and species interactions are altered along a temperature gradient, with implications for predicting biodiversity change. Her MSc thesis focused on uncovering the role of transient species on stable community dynamics – work that she intends to expand upon as changing conditions create a mismatch between resident communities and suitable habitat. Through her research Megan seeks to build on existing ecological frameworks with the aim of bridging theory to applied management across systems.
Undergraduate Research Assistants
Emilie Craig is a junior studying Environmental Sciences and Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Originally from Maine, she has always had an interest in ecology which grew into a passion during her time surveying the health of coral reef ecosystems in Beqa, Fiji. Her work and studies focus specifically on how plant and animal species adapt to changing environmental conditions. She is currently a field technician at Niwot Ridge, working with Dr. Shoemaker and Megan Szojka to transplant flower species from subalpine to alpine environments in attempt to monitor climate adaptation. While she is unsure what she would like to do after graduating, future career goals include continued ecology research, environmental justice, and spending as much time outdoors as possible.