Dr. Ashley Dayer (she/her)

Associate Professor

Dr. Dayer is an Associate Professor of Human Dimensions in the Department of Fish and Wildlifer Conservation at Virginia Tech. She teaches an undergraduate/graduate level course in Human Dimensions of Fish and Wildlife Conservation and is a Global Change Center affiliated faculty member. Her research program focuses on social science applied to wildlife, particularly bird, conservation {more info}. 


Freya McGregor (she/her)

Research Associate

Freya McGregor, OTR/L, CIG is an occupational therapist and the owner of the consulting and training business Access Birding. With a clinical background in blindness and low vision services, her own experiences as a disabled birder, and her passion for social justice, she works to create a more accessible and inclusive birding community and the outdoors, particularly for disabled birders. She co-founded the nonprofit Birdability, and led the organization as its sole employee for the first 18 months of its existence. In the Dayer Lab, she is involved in projects related to disability, birding, access, inclusion and using birding as a therapeutic tool. She has written on these topics for Audubon, Birding and Legacy magazines and the LA Times, and is currently working on the first travel guidebook for disabled birders in the US (to be published by Princeton University Press in 2026).  {more info}.

Becca O’Brien (she/her)

PhD Student

Becca joined the Dayer lab in the summer of 2018 as a PhD student studying the social and ecological aspects of hellbender conservation. Her interest in research began as an undergraduate at Colorado College where she studied environmental science and completed two independent research projects. The first looked at niche partitioning between native and invasive bee species in rural Paraguay, while the second addressed the population dynamics of ants and aphids in desert yucca communities {more info}.

Christy Pototsky (she/her)

PhD Student

Christy Pototsky is a PhD student in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation supervised by Dr. Ashley Dayer. Christy graduated with a BSc in Ecology and Conservation from the University of St. Andrews in 2019. Between her undergraduate and Master’s degrees, she worked in practical conservation, including surveys for the Maryland-DC Breeding Bird Atlas, which ignited her passions for participatory science and ornithology. This experience inspired her Master’s research on the scientific and conservation planning impacts of citizen science ornithological atlases. {more info}. 

Picture of Kelsey Jennings

Kelsey Jennings (she/they)

M.S. Student

Kelsey is a master’s student in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation in the Dayer Human Dimensions Lab. Kelsey’s research interests encompass all things human dimensions and the outdoors. They focus on how historically underrepresented ethnoracial groups are engaging in wildlife viewing, the mechanisms of support for donation-based state agencies, and how community science has the potential to bridge the gap between agencies and their broader constituents. She will be surveying communities across the United States, but more thoroughly in her home state of Minnesota, to help agencies understand how to best serve the shifting dynamics of their usership base. {more info}.

Sami Livingston (she/her)

M.S. Student

Sami is a master’s student in the Dayer Human Dimensions Lab and pursuing a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences. She is working on a collaborative, multi-state project to prevent human disturbance of shorebirds. She is supporting staff from Audubon, Manomet, USFWS, and Atlantic Flyway Shorebird Initiative in implementing community-based social marketing campaigns across the Atlantic Flyway {more info}.

Emily Sinkular (she/her)

M.S. Student

Emily joined the Dayer Human Lab in the Spring of 2021 as a Master’s Student in Fish and Wildlife Conservation. Her research in the Dayer Lab focuses on a multi-state study of wildlife viewers. Emily spent much of her childhood in Germany, where she finished high school in 2016. She was inspired by some of Germany’s and the European Union’s progressive environmental policies and sought an education that would allow her to learn more about governance and the intersection of humans and the environment {more info}.

Morgan Karns (she/her)

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Morgan is an undergraduate student majoring in Wildlife Conservation with a concentration in Human Dimensions. She joined the Dayer Lab in the summer of 2022 through the Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program (MAOP) research program. Morgan assists in the creation of state wildlife viewing state reports and works in conjunction with the non-profit organization Birdability to explore accessible wildlife viewing opportunities. Her other interests include environmental education, DEI and environmental justice, as well as marine ecosystems, amphibians, and reptiles.

Anna Klewicki (she/her)

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Anna is an undergraduate majoring in Environmental Conservation and Society and Public Health at Virginia Tech. She joined the Dayer Lab in Fall 2020, where she is helping to examine how much biodiversity conservation science has been done on public and private lands, and creating a database of conservation research on private lands in the past twenty years. She is interested in outreach and stakeholder engagement, specifically best practices in getting people interested in and excited about conservation.

Emma Pausley (she/her)

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Emma Pausley is an undergraduate student majoring in Wildlife Conservation and focusing on the Human Dimensions of Fish and Wildlife Conservation. She joined the Dayer Human Dimensions Lab in the Spring of 2021. She has assisted on multiple projects related to private lands conservation and the multi-state wildlife viewer study led by Dr. Dayer. Her interests lie predominantly in public outreach and the application of the social sciences for wildlife conservation.