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}.

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.

Elizabeth Tsang

Human Dimensions Technician

Elizabeth was born and raised in Floyd, Virginia. She graduated from Virginia Tech in the Spring of 2019 with a B.S. in Wildlife Conservation. She received the Departmental Diversity Undergraduate Research Award to fund a summer research project with the Dayer Lab in 2019. Her research aims to conduct a stakeholder analysis of wildlife viewing organizations and groups in the state of Virginia. The findings will contribute to the Wildlife Viewing Plan that Virginia Tech is aiding VDGIF in developing through stakeholder engagement. Her professional interests include conservation conflict resolution and stakeholder engagement. Elizabeth will begin working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Colorado once her research in the Dayer Lab finishes in August.

Seth Finkel

Seth is an undergraduate student in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation and will receive his B.S. in Natural Resource Conservation in December of 2019. Born and raised in Manassas, Virginia, his research aims to evaluate the human dimensions of no-net-loss conservation policies and their implications for grassland conservation in the United States. His findings will contribute to the 2020 Grasslands Roadmap Summit and help inform grassland conservation policy across North America. In his free time, Seth enjoys birding, fly fishing, and backpacking.