Former Members

 Valerie Milici

Val surveying tree seedlings for pathogens in Panama

Val graduated with a PhD from UConn in 2022. Her PhD examined the effects of environmental gradients on plant-fungal interactions, including fieldwork in Panama.

On graduating, Val moved to a post-doctoral research associate position at the University of Arizona where she is working on the role of plant-microbial interactions in soil development during primary succession





James Mickley

James examining flower petals
James examining flower petal morphology in the greenhouse

James joined the lab as Postdoctoral Research Associate working on how forest ecology and species’ interactions in Connecticut are affected by forest fragmentation as part of the Fragmented Ecological Networks project (2018 – 2020).

James has moved to the position of herbarium curator at Oregon State University.

In addition to a strong interest in botany, James is an avid programmer, teaches workshops on Software Carpentry, and is developing inexpensive weather stations to measure microenvironment. For more information, please see James’s website.




Ashwin Viswanathan

Ashwin hunting for seedlings in a forest fragment in the Western Ghats.
Ashwin hunting for seedlings in the Western Ghats.

Ashwin graduated with a PhD from ETH Zurich in 2018. Ashwin’s work investigated the effects of forest fragmentation on species diversity in the Western Ghats, South India. In particular, his PhD worked on the effects of forest fragmentation on the Janzen-Connell mechanism.

He is now working at the Nature Conservation Foundation in Bangalore, India. For more information, please see Ashwin’s website.





Shihong Jia


Shihong is now an assistant professor at the Northewestern Polytechnical University in China

Shihong worked in the lab for six months as a visiting scholar during his PhD at the Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. He worked on how biotic and abiotic factors, such as soil pathogens, insects, large mammals as well as snow cover affected the species diversity in Changbaishan Mountain, Northeastern China.

Shihong is now an Assistant Professor in Ecology at the Northwestern Polytechnical University in China.