Dr. Ashley Dayer (she/her)

Associate Professor 

Dr. Dayer is an Associate Professor of Human Dimensions in the Department of Fish and Wildlife 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. She is interested in how and why people impact wildlife and their conservation and, in turn, how wildlife impact human emotions and well-being {more info}. 


Katie Krafte Holland, PhD (she/her)

Research Scientist

Dr. Katie Krafte Holland is a conservation social scientist and Research Scientist at Virginia Tech. Katie joined the Dayer Lab after spending 4 years as a faculty member at the University of North Carolina Wilmington in the Environmental Science department. As a researcher, Katie focuses on human dimensions of conservation including protected area management, community engagement in conservation, human-wildlife interactions, and strategic conservation planning. Prior to her time at UNCW, Katie completed her PhD in Parks and Conservation Area Management at Clemson University where she focused on human-wildlife interactions, wildlife tourism and community involvement in conservation efforts {more info}.

Justin Beall (he/him)

Postdoctoral Associate

Justin’s interest in the human dimensions of natural resource use began while he was pursuing a B.A. in Environmental Science at The University of Florida, where much of his coursework focused on the intersection of society and the environment. Continuing to explore these interests, he completed an M.S. in Forest Resources at the University of Georgia. There, he studied the reasons why travelers choose sustainable tourism products (e.g., ecotourism) over other options. His interests began to broaden as he progressed through a PhD in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management at North Carolina State University, where his dissertation focused on designing and testing conservation communication strategies with audience characteristics in mind {more info}.

Kelley Langhans (she/her)

Dayer Lab Assistant Director Postdoctoral Associate

Kelley is an interdisciplinary conservation scientist, with a focus on urban ecology, ornithology, access to nature, justice, and human dimensions. She obtained her PhD from Stanford’s Department of Biology, where she studied conservation in human-impacted landscapes and how preserving ecosystems can benefit both people and biodiversity. Kelley has engaged with government, NGOs, and communities to solve environmental problems, from reforestation policy in Costa Rica to access to nature in community gardens in San Francisco, CA. Her work centers research that has a concrete practical outcome, and considers people and issues of equity as an integral part of conservation {more info}.

Nathan Thayer (he/him)

Postdoctoral Associate

Nathan Thayer is a Human Geographer and a postdoctoral associate in the Dayer Human Dimensions lab in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech. Nathan earned a Ph.D. in Geography at the University of Delaware in 2023. Nathan’s research focuses on the diverse ways caring relations and ethics are entangled with contemporary antiracist struggles in the United States. His dissertation research focused on care in three arenas. First, at the national scale thinking through the ways that care, taken often as a normative good, plays a role in the ongoing production of white supremacy in the United States. Second, looking at the way caring and uncaring relations are woven into the initiatives and work aimed at producing more diverse, equitable, and inclusive institutions in higher education {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. 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}.

Kelsey Jennings (she/they)

Ph.D. Student

Kelsey is a PhD student in the Dayer Human Dimensions Lab, where their research interests lie in understanding how people are motivated and encouraged to conserve natural resources and wildlife, as well as how to make conservation more equitable and sustainable. In her current project, she works with Audubon and the US Forest Service to explore sustainable maple syrup production, focusing on how to incentivize sugarbush management to support bird conservation {more info}.

Sami Livingston (she/her)

Ph.D. Student

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

Reyhane Rastgoo (She/Her)

Ph.D. Student

Reyhane Rastgoo is a Ph.D. student at the Dayer Human Dimensions Lab in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech. Reyhane holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and pursued a master’s in Biodiversity Conservation and Management at the University of Tehran in Iran. During her exploration for her master’s thesis, she discovered a captivating intersection between conservation and social science, leading her to delve deeper into the realm of human-wildlife interactions and the human dimensions of wildlife. Motivated by her curiosity about how cultural values and beliefs influence people’s behavior toward wildlife and its conservation, Reyhane’s academic journey has defined her scholarly interests {more info}. 

Emily Sinkular (she/her)

Ph.D. Student

Emily joined the Dayer Human Dimensions Lab in the Spring of 2021 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}.

Milan Büscher (he/him)

Ph.D. Student | Visiting Researcher

Milan is a visiting researcher at the Dayer Lab and a Ph.D. student from the Osnabrück University in Germany. He holds a Research Master’s degree in Social Sciences with a focus on environmental psychology from the University of Groningen, The Netherlands. Milan’s Ph.D. project research focuses on understanding biodiversity conservation behaviors, with a particular emphasis on bird conservation. During his time in the Dayer Lab, Milan will conduct an experiment to understand the effects of different observation techniques on beach walkers. {more info}.

Dimaris Colón (she/her)

Human Dimensions Technician

Dimaris Colón is from Puerto Rico. She currently joined Dayer Human Dimensions Lab in the Spring of 2024 as a contract position with BirdsCaribbean and Virginia Tech, working on project involves how human disturbance affects shorebirds at wetlands in the Caribbean and use social science and community based social marketing (CBSM) approaches understand and potentially changes people’s behavior. She did her BSc in Biology at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez. She has a master’s in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez {more info}.

Emelia Delaporte (she/her)

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Emelia is an undergraduate researcher in the Dayer Human Dimensions Lab and is pursuing dual degrees in Multimedia Journalism and Professional and Technical Writing, with double minors in Natural Resources Recreation and Biodiversity Conservation. In Spring 2024, she is working under Sami Livingston on a survey analysis regarding dog-walker disturbance of shorebirds {more info}.

Ally Matheson (she/they)

MAOP Undergraduate Research Assistant 

Ally is a summer undergraduate researcher in the Dayer Human Dimensions Lab and a student at UC Berkeley double majoring in Legal Studies and Geography with a minor in Human Rights. She is part of the Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program (MAOP) Summer Research Internship, and is working under Dr. Nathan Thayer studying DEI in ornithological societies. She is also the fundraising officer for Swim Club at Berkeley and a UC Berkeley Campus Ambassador. In her free time Ally enjoys swimming in the ocean, going to concerts, and finding new boba shops.