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}.

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}.

Rachel Green

M.S. Student

Rachael Green is a Master’s student in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech, as well as a Smithsonian Research Fellow. 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 private lands conservation. Specifically, she works with private landowners and citizen scientists to study the conservation behaviour outcomes of participation in conservation research programs {more info}.


Kelsey Jennings

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

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

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

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.. 

    Mackenzi Mills

    Undergraduate Research Assistant

    Mackenzi Mills is an undergraduate Animal and Poultry Science major. She is pursuing an environmental education through her Biodiversity Conservation minor and joined the Dayer Lab in the Fall of 2020. Her interests include studying the importance of human dimensions in wildlife research and how those ideas impact human perceptions of nature as well as for her future career in Veterinary medicine. She is assisting Dr. Dayer in her research, consisting of data collection and conservation literature analysis to construct a manuscript. This manuscript will examine the amount of community and social science done on private lands over the past 20 years.


      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.

        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

        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. 



          Anna Klewicki

          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.