Lab Members


Postdoctoral Researchers

Dylan Maag

received my B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife with a focus on Conservation Biology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, my M.S. in Biology at Missouri State University, and my Ph.D. from the Joint Doctoral Program in Evolutionary Biology at San Diego State University and UC Riverside.  My M.S. research was focused on the spatial ecology and habitat selection of the pygmy rattlesnake, Sistrurus miliarius. My doctoral research focused on the behavioral and ecological mechanisms underlying differential fitness and their relationship to an individual’s ancestry, using a rattlesnake hybrid system between Crotalus viridis and C. scutulatus. I am currently conducting postdoctoral research on the evolution of the infrared sensory sytem in snakes, and serving as an instructor for Human Anatomy, Organismal Biology, and an advanced Graduate Seminar in Statistics. My other research interests include, conservation, demography, and the evolution and practical application of sensing organs.  Email:

Doctoral Students

Craig Fischer

I have long been interested in myriad aspects of ecology, using my bachelor's in Biological Sciences from Marquette University and bio tech positions in public lands to ask pointed questions about effects of climate change, habitat alteration, and recreation on ecology of public lands. Four years working in the Colorado Desert have given me ample opportunity to develop questions regarding the ecology of this remarkable region. My research focuses on how natural and anthropogenic landscape factors may affect genetic diversity of flat-tailed horned lizards (Phrynosoma mcalli) within an off-road focused recreation environment. Email:

RH Copperhead

Ryan Hanscom

received my B.S. in Biology from Framingham State University and my M.S. in Biology from Tennessee Technological University. During my B.S., my research focused on population biology of freshwater turtles on a barrier island and during my M.S., I examined how ecology and geography influence the species diversification of snapping shrimps. Generally, I am interested in the ecology, evolution, and conservation of herpetofauna. My current research uses a naturally occurring thermal cline to examine how increases in environmental temperature affect predator-prey interactions between prairie rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis) and Ord’s kangaroo rats (Dipodomys ordii). Website: Email:

Kabat field

Kristin Kabat

I received my B.S. in Conservation Biology and Ecology from Arizona State University and my M.S. in Natural Resources Management from Texas Tech University. For my masters research I developed an environmental DNA (eDNA) detection method for cryptic terrestrial reptiles. The majority of my research has focused on the distribution, conservation and behavioral ecology of herpetofauna populations throughout Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. I worked on the USGS Brown Treesnake Project on Guam and have interned with the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the National Park Service. For my dissertation research I am planning to link animal-borne accelerometry with respirometry to evaluate the relationship between movement and energy use across snake taxa. Email: 

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Masters Students

Ana Gomez Ramirez

I am currently co-advised between Dr. Clark and Dr. Jeremy Long in the Ecology Program Area. I received my B.S. in Biology from San Diego State University, where I developed an interest in island ecology, and the relationships between animal behavior and nutrient cycling across ecosystems, particularly as they relate to marine subsidies of island ecosystems. I am currently exploring the terrestrial community of a nearby offshore island chain (Islas Coronados in Mexico), and my research will focus on understanding the linkages between the terristrial community and the surrounding oceanic ecosystem. Email:

Emma McAndrews

I received my B.A. in Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz where I developed a passion for ecology and conservation fieldwork.  My current research interests center around the conservation of native Californian reptile and amphibian species and their habitats in the context of rapidly increasing urbanization and habitat fragmentation. My thesis project, a study on the behavioral and spatial ecology of the Red Diamond rattlesnake (Crotalus ruber) in partnership with the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, will incorporate radio telemetry and animal-borne accelerometry to describe the nature of this cryptic species of special concern in order to promote it as a conservation flagship for the preservation of the California coastal sage scrub and chaparral habitats. Email: 


Jordyn Mulder

I received my B.S. in Wildlife Biology with an emphasis in management and conservation at Humboldt State University in 2013. Since then, I have pursued my passion for herpetofauna.  My main topics of interest are animal behavior, conservation, and human and wildlife interaction. My current research is in San Diego studying local lizard populations and using skeletochronology to determine morphological changes over time due to isolation and climate change. Email:

Jessica Hill

I received my B.S. in Biology from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, where I studied the anti-inflammatory properties of host-defense peptides. However, I found that my passion did not lie in biochemistry but in the understanding and applications of ecology and conservation. Specifically, my interests lie in the spatial ecology and overall movement of animals as well as anthropogenic impacts. My current research focuses on the potential effects of climate change on predator-prey interactions between prairie rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis) and Ord’s kangaroo rats (Dipodomys ordii). I aim to examine this through a combination of ecological niche modeling, accelerometry, and telemetry work.  Email:

Graduate Student Alumni

Matthew Barbour, MS 2012, Investigating the function of California ground squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi) displays towards northern Pacific rattlesnakes (Crotalus oreganus)  

Frank Santana, MS 2013, Mountain yellow legged frog (Rana muscosa) conservation: multiple approaches

Shannon Hoss, PhD 2013, Maternal attendance of young in cottonmouths (Agkistrodon piscivorus): Adaptive value and hormonal mechanisms

Laura Kabes, MS 2014, The use of chemical cues by granite night lizards (Xantusia henshawi) to evaluate potential predation risk

Bree Putman, PhD 2015, The function and ontogeny of antipredator responses: the influence of snakes on ground squirrel behavior and physiology 

Tara Luckau, MS 2015, Comparative conservation genetics of two sympatric lizard species across multiple landscapes in San Diego County

JP Montagne, MS 2015, The effect of personality on movement and survival following translocation of California ground squirrels (Otospermophilus beecheyi)

Kelly Lion, MS 2016, A comparative study of genetic patterns in two closely related and sympatric Peromyscus species

Stephen Rice, PhD 2017, Conservation genetic assessment of the Island Night Lizard, Xantusia riversiana, under contemporary and future environmental conditions

Hannes Schraft, PhD 2019, Behavioral and ecological implications of infrared sensing in rattlesnakes

Kelly Robinson, MS 2019, Biochemical warfare: coevolution of venom and venom resistance among rattlesnakes (Crotalus oreganus helleri and C. ruber) and mammal prey (Otospermophilus beecheyi and Neotoma bryanti

Malachi Whitford, PhD 2020, Determinants of predation success: a holistic examination of the predator-prey interactions between rattlesnakes and kangaroo rats

Grace Freymiller, PhD 2021, Factors that influence the performance of complex behaviors in a terrestrial vertebrate: variability in the kangaroo rat evasive leap

Roman Nava, MS 2022, Changes in morphology and behavior of the Coronado Island rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus caliginis), an insular population of the Western Rattlesnake (C. oreganus)

Nathan Smith, MS 2023, Changes in morphology and behavior of the Coronado Island rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus caliginis), an insular population of the Western Rattlesnake (C. oreganus)

Last Updated:  December 2023