Leah joined Dr. Jeffrey Walter’s avian ecology lab as a Ph.D. student during the fall of 2013. Her primary research interests include avian behavior and ecology, fire ecology and habitat restoration. At Virginia Tech, she is studying red-cockaded woodpeckers, a federally listed endangered species. Her research examines the effect of resource availability and habitat characteristics on dispersal of first year subordinate males. She will also explore how these resources may be altered due to habitat loss and climate change.
Leah obtained her B.A. at Connecticut College in New London, CT and her M.S. in wildlife forestry at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. Her thesis research focused on avian composition and reproductive success of shrub specialists in restored longleaf pine stands. As an undergraduate student, she also studied blue-winged warbler and chestnut-sided warbler reproductive success in man-made clearcuts. Before returning to school for her graduate degrees, Leah worked as an avian, exotic and wildlife specialized veterinary technician.
Leah plans to pursue a career in species and habitat management. She believes that the knowledge and experience gained through her participation in the Interfaces of Global Change IGEP will help her implement successful management strategies. Her goal is to create cross-discipline protocols that take into account both ecological and economic processes in order to sustain viable ecosystems well into the future.