Robert Bagchi

Robi checing a seedtrap in Belize
Robi checking a seedtrap in Belize.

I am a community ecologist with a particular interest in tropical plants. I also dabble in investigating the influence of environmental change on species distributions and the effects of plant diversity on ecosystem function. I use a combination of field experiments and quantitative analyses to address questions like why there are so many species of trees in tropical forests and how human activities are likely to reduce species diversity.

I did my PhD at the University of Sheffield in the UK before doing post-docs in Zurich, Oxford and Durham. Before moving to UConn I was a Senior Scientist at the ETH, Zurich.







James Mickley

James examining flower petals

James is a 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.

Prior to joining the lab in February 2018, James earned a PhD at the University of Connecticut researching what variation in petal number in the Polemoniaceae can tell us about the evolution of petal number in flowers.

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.




 Valerie Milici

Val setting a pitfall trap
Val setting a pitfall trap

Val joined the lab in August 2016 as a PhD student. She is investigating the effects of environmental gradients on plant-fungal interactions, including fieldwork in Panama. For more information, please see Val’s website.








Ashwin Viswanathan

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

Ashwin is a PhD student based at the ETH Zurich. Ashwin’s work investigates the effects of forest fragmentation on species diversity in the Western Ghats, South India. In particular, his PhD is investigating the effect of forest fragmentation on the Janzen-Connell mechanism.








Dipanjana Dalui

Dipanjana in the cloud forest of Costa Rica.
Dipanjana in the cloud forest of Costa Rica.

Dipanjana joined the lab in August 2017 as a PhD student. She is interested in plant and fungal pathogen interactions in the tropics and how it can give rise to diversity, and studies it using mathematical modelling and simulations.









 James Margrove

James in Aberdeen, enjoying a break from the tropics.
James enjoying the crater lakes in Bali.

James is based at ETH Zurich where he works on understanding the mechanisms that maintain species diversity with a view to develop and test species co-existence theories. His PhD is investigating plant microtopographic habitat associations focusing on tolerance to water inundation. By understanding the influence of water logging in generating the species distributions patterns seen in the forest, we will be better enabled to predict responses of systems that are currently being subjected to environmental change. He has a keen interest in the forests of Borneo where he has been studying disturbance, habitat associations and flowering dynamics in the dominant tree family the Dipterocarpaceae.






Shihong Jia

Shihong trekking through the forest

Shihong is a PhD student at the Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. He joined the lab in November 2016 as a visiting scholar. He is interested in the factors that control species diversity in natural forests. He is investigating both biotic and abiotic factors, such as soil pathogens, insects, large mammals as well as snow cover, on the species diversity in Changbaishan Mountain, Northeastern China.