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}. 


Becca O’Brien (she/her)

Ph.D. 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}.

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.

Emily graduated Magna Cum Laude from Colorado State University in 2019 with a B.S. in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources {more info}.

Dyess Harp (they/she)

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Dyess is an undergraduate student majoring in Wildlife Conservation. They joined the Dayer lab in the spring of 2022, where their focus is on the literature about LGBTQ+ people and the outdoors. Their interests are primarily in ecology, human dimensions, botany, the LGBTQ+ community, and nearly all nocturnal animals.

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.

Christy Pototsky (she/her)

Technician/Incoming PhD Student

Christy joined the Dayer Lab in February 2022 as a research technician, focusing on a multi-state study of wildlife viewers. Although originally from Southern Maryland, she holds a first-class BSc in Ecology and Conservation from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Her MSc by Research in Biology, supervised by Professor Will Cresswell at the University of St. Andrews, focused on a global review of bird atlases and exploring how this type of citizen science initiative can be optimized for the greatest scientific yield and conservation impact. Her future research interests also encompass the intersection between conservation, ornithology, and citizen science, with the broad aim of addressing the research-implementation gap in conservation science and improving participation outcomes in citizen science. In the years between her degrees, Christy worked in practical conservation with a wide range of projects, including the Maryland-DC Breeding Bird Atlas and a study on the movement of Bald Eagles around a naval airfield. When she’s not working, Christy very much enjoys being lazy: slow runs, slow reading, listening to good music, and eating good food.

Maggie Smith (she/her)

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Maggie is an undergraduate student double majoring in Wildlife Conservation and Biology. She joined the Dayer Lab in Fall of 2020 and is excited to delve into the field of human dimensions. She works on assessing the proportion of conservation science conducted on private lands versus public lands. Broadly, her interests lie in ecology, behavior, international development, community based natural resource management, and one health initiatives. 

Kara Crudup (she/her)

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Kara Crudup is a Senior in the Agriculture and Life Science department at Virginia Tech. She is advised by Dr. Ashley Dayer as a Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program (MAOP) intern. Her research is focused on the participation in federal conservation programs among ethno-racial, gender, and socio-economic groups. Specifically, she is reviewing existing literature on participation in federal conservation programs and conducting a literature review, fact sheet, and webinar for agency staff.

Kara will graduate in 2023 from Virginia Tech with her Bachelor of Science in Animal and Poultry Science with a minor in Biodiversity Conservation. While still currently an undergraduate, she has assisted with undergraduate research projects such as pain alleviation methods for castrated piglets, the current state of Cellular Agriculture, and Livestock behavior.

Hailey Draper (she/they)

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Hailey is an undergraduate student from Roanoke College. She is set to graduate with a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Studies along with a double minor in Economics and Art in Spring of 2023. They joined the Dayer Human Dimensions Lab in Summer 2022 as a Summer Research Intern through the Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program (MAOP). The aim of her research is to produce a comprehensive literature review on minority participation within federal conservation programs. Through this work, she personally wants to develop an understanding of what barriers exist to participation in these programs and learn how to make this academic discipline more accessible and inclusive.

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.

Charlotte Moore (she/her)

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Charlotte is an undergraduate student majoring in Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech. She joined the Dayer Human Dimensions Lab in Summer 2022 as an intern through the Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program (MAOP). With the help of her advisors, Dr. Dayer and Dr. Meyers, Charlotte will be studying the best practices for conducting research with Indigenous communities–specifically, the Monacan Nation. She is excited to explore the conservation social sciences and enhance human-natural connections wherever possible.

Jessica Willebeek-LeMair (she/her)

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Jessica Willebeek-LeMair joined the Dayer Human Dimensions Lab through the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program in the summer of 2022. She is a rising senior at Hollins University where she majors in Environmental Science and spent the spring semester of 2022 in Tanzania studying wildlife management through the School for Field Studies. In the Dayer Human Dimensions Lab, Jessica assists in preparing state reports with data obtained from wildlife viewer surveys and will present results at a research symposium at the end of the summer.