Dr. Ashley Dayer

Assistant Professor

Dr. Dayer is an Assistant 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 {more info}.

Dr. Jessica Barnes

National Bird Conservation Social Science Coordinator

Jessica grew up in a small town outside of Savannah, GA and recently relocated to Blacksburg from Raleigh, NC. She holds a Ph.D. in Forestry and Environmental Resources from North Carolina State University, as well as a master’s degree in environmental public health and bachelor’s degrees in biology and sociology. Her work broadly focuses on integrating and translating perspectives from the critical social sciences to improve the outcomes of biodiversity conservation {more info}.

Bennett Grooms

Ph.D. Student

Bennett Grooms is a Ph.D student in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation working in Dr. Ashley Dayer’s human dimensions lab. He started Fall of 2017 and is researching the human dimensions of wildlife viewers with the VDGIF to construct a Wildlife Recreation Management Plan for the state of Virginia. Specifically, he is interested in how differing outdoor recreation groups view and interact with the agency, including how the behaviors and attitudes of those groups influence their participation in conservation and wildlife viewing programs {more info}.

Becca O'Brien

PH.D. Candidate

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}.

Carolyn Comber

M.S. Student

Carolyn is a Masters student working in the Dayer Lab in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech. Carolyn attended Ithaca College where she earned a B.S. in Biology with magna cum laude honors in 2014. After receiving her undergraduate degree, Carolyn began working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Complex {more info}.

Rachel Green

M.S. Student

Rachael is a Master’s student in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation working in the Dayer Human Dimensions Lab. She is advised by Dr. Ashley Dayer and additionally mentored by Dr. Amy Johnson from the Smithsonian’s Virginia Working Landscapes program. Her research focuses on the human dimensions of conservation on private lands. She will be working with private landowners and citizen scientists in order to better understand the variables that drive private landowners’ perceptions of and engagement in conservation behaviors. {more info}.

Jillian Everly

Human Dimensions Technician

Recently hired as a Human Dimensions Technician, Jillian Graduated in Spring 2019 from Virginia Tech with a B.S. in Wildlife Conservation. Past technician jobs include working as a Sage Grouse Technician in California and a Sloth Technician in Costa Rica. Her research will aid in an ongoing project with the Audubon Society to understand beach recreationists’ behaviors and beliefs that might impact migratory shorebirds. She is interested in how different cultures view wildlife and how their values may aid or impact conservation. 

Jonathan Rutter

Human Dimensions Technician

Jonathan joined the Dayer Lab in October 2018 to work with a large, bi-national dataset of birdwatchers and hunters. Born in New Zealand and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, his interests lie in the intersection between ecology and society, particularly the political nature of environmental issues. Jonathan graduated from Yale University in May 2018 with a B.S. in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies. He currently trains with a pro swimming group at Virginia Tech.

Julianna Duran

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Julianna is a wildlife conservation and biological sciences undergraduate working in the Dayer Human Dimensions Lab. Her experiences include conducting biological research for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She is using qualitative methods to identify wildlife value orientations in public comments concerning the Southern Resident Orcas.

    Sami Livingston

    Undergraduate Research Assistant

    Sami is an undergraduate student in Wildlife Conservation who recently joined the Dayer Lab in Spring of 2020. She is conducting a qualitative analysis to code for wildlife value orientations in various public comments pertaining to the Southern Resident Orca population. Her interests reside in stakeholder engagement strategies and environmental education.

      Caitlin Watford

      Undergraduate Research Assistant

      Caitlin is an undergraduate biological science major at Virginia Tech. In the summer of 2019, she started working in the Dayer Lab. She is performing a qualitative analysis of public comments about the draft recommendations proposed by the Southern Resident Orca Task Force. This analysis allows for an in-depth evaluation of the arguments and implementations of various policies proposed by the Southern Resident Orca Task Force.