Tuberville Lab
@ the University of Georgia Savannah River Ecology Laboratory

Lab Personnel



Kyle with gopher tortoiseKyle Brown is a new graduate student in the Tuberville lab. Kyle took part in SREL's 2016 REU in radioecology, during which he worked with Drs. Pilgrim and Tuberville studying the uptake and effects of radionuclides and mercury in aquatic snakes at the Savannah River site. As a technician in the Tuberville lab he assisted with gopher tortoise and other herp surveys on military lands and ecotoxicological studies of water snakes on the SRS. Kyle’s love for herpetology began at an early age, when he would spend many hours searching the ponds and creeks near his home for frogs and turtles. Kyle is a graduate of the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg, South Carolina where he received a degree in Biology. While there, he was a member of Dr. Melissa Pilgrim’s undergraduate research group “Upstate Herpetology” starting in January 2015. His research experience includes conducting anuran call surveys for the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program and using automated recording systems to monitor the calling activity of anurans in the Piedmont region of South Carolina. Kyle’s research interests include the effects of climate change and anthropogenic disturbance on herpetofauna, as well as wildlife conservation as a whole. After graduate school, Kyle's future goals include obtaining a career as a biologist with Department of Natural Resources or the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. View Kyle's ResearchGate profile.


David with brown snake David Lee Haskins is a Ph.D. student in the University of Georgia’s Interdisciplinary Toxicology Program. He was raised in Philadelphia, Tennessee, and received his B.S. in Biology with a minor in Statistics from Maryville College in 2014. As an undergraduate, David performed research on the small mammal prey base of reintroduced American marten (Martes americana) in conjunction with Grand Valley State University and the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians in the Manistee National Forest of Michigan. David completed his M.S. in the summer of 2016 under co-advisors Drs. Tracey Tuberville (SREL) and Robert Bringolf (Warnell), which focused on the physiological effects of coal ash contaminants in the yellow-bellied slider (Trachemys scripta scripta). Under the continued direction of Drs. Tracey Tuberville and Robert Bringolf, David’s doctoral research will focus on the accumulation and effects of a widespread contaminant, mercury, in the brown watersnake (Nerodia taxispilota). His overall research interests include ecotoxicology, life history, evolution, and conservation of herpetofauna. View David's ResearchGate profile.


Rebecca holding radiotransmittered desert tortoise Rebecca McKee is pursuing her Master’s degree in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources under Dr. Tracey Tuberville and in collaboration with Dr. Kurt Buhlmann. Originally from North Carolina, Rebecca earned her B.S in environmental science from Davidson College. As an undergraduate, she studied how bycatch reduction device (BRD) presence and orientation affects diamondback terrapin behavior and mortality in crab traps. Most recently, she worked for Pennsylvania State University on a study assessing how translocation affects desert tortoise behavior and disease transmission. Through these experiences, Rebecca has developed a strong interest in applied ecology and wildlife behavior. Her master’s research, based at Aiken Gopher Tortoise Preserve, will focus on evaluating the effectiveness of using waif animals as a strategy to bolster declining gopher tortoise populations. View Rebecca's ResearchGate profile.


Pearson in the desert Pearson McGovern is a Masters student at the University of Georgia's Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, where he is advised by Dr. Tracey Tuberville. He is a recent graduate of Texas A&M University, where he majored in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation while minoring in Business Administration and Hispanic Studies. His master's research, based at the Ivanpah Desert Tortoise Research Facility, will focus on evaluating the effectiveness of head-starting Mojave Desert Tortoise hatchlings while also looking to improve current methods in order to bolster declining populations. The project is in collaboration with Drs. Kurt Buhlmann (UGA/SREL) and Brian Todd (University of California, Davis). Pearson has always had a passion for wildlife but had his first exposure at age 16 when he started interning at the Dallas World Aquarium in the herpetology department. This opportunity served as his diving board to the world of applied conservation. Pearson got his first research experience tracking female Woolly Monkeys (Lagothrix lagotricha) in the Ecuadorian Amazon, attempting to correlate behavioral responses and hormone cycles. Pearson is most interested in applied conservation techniques and their effectiveness in herpetology. View Pearson's ResearchGate profile.



Kip in the fieldKip Callahan is a junior at University of South Carolina Upstate, where he is majoring in Biology. He currently works as a paramedic for Greenville County EMS and plans to attend medical school after he graduates. Through an ecology class taught by Melissa Pilgrim at USC Upstate, Kip also became interested and intrigued with ecology. He is a participant in SREL’s NSF REU in Radioecology. Under the co-mentorship of Tracey Tuberville and Melissa Pilgrim, he is investigating among-tissue differences in contaminant concentrations in Florida green water snakes.


Melissa holding a mud snakeMelissa Lech is a senior majoring in Biology at the University of South Carolina Upstate. Her previous research with Dr. Benjamin Montgomery includes using digitized herbarium records to investigate the effects of climate change on flowering phenology of herbaceous species in the Carolinas. As a participant of the Radioecology REU at SREL, Melissa is working with Drs. Tuberville and Pilgrim to examine the relationship between stable nitrogen isotope composition and contaminant levels in Florida green watersnakes (Nerodia floridana). Some of Melissa’s research interests include the effects of anthropogenic climate change on aquatic systems, biodiversity, and conservation. Her future goal is to pursue a Ph.D. in Conservation Ecology.


Caleigh holding a box turtleCaleigh Quick is a senior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Upstate, New York, pursuing a B.S. in biotechnology. Caleigh's love for animals began at a very early age and is what inspired her to pursue a STEM degree. She worked as a veterinary assistant in emergency veterinary medicine and became interested in herpetology after volunteering with loggerhead sea turtles through the Caretta Research Project in 2016. Caleigh is currently a participant in SREL’s REU in Radioecology working with Drs. Tracey Tuberville and Melissa Pilgrim. She is studying the impacts of contaminant concentrations on blood parasite loads in Florida green watersnakes. Her research interests include wildlife conservation as a whole, and her future goals include pursuing a Master's degree in either Marine Sciences or Conservation Biology.



KurtKurt Buhlmann is a conservation ecologist whose research interests include life history and evolutionary ecology with application for conservation and management of amphibians and reptiles. He has worked with non-profit, state, and federal agencies on habitat management projects, including prescribed fire and wetlands restoration. He and Tracey are co-PIs and collaborate on several reintroduction projects for tortoises and freshwater turtles. They also both serve as mentors to students and technicians working on these projects. Kurt Buhlmann is a Research Associate at University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Lab. View Kurt's ResearchGate profile.


MelissaMelissa Pilgrim is Director of Research and an Associate Professor of Biology at the University of South Carolina Upstate. She obtained a B.S. in Biology from Stetson University, a M.S. in Biology from Southeastern Louisiana University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas. Melissa completed her post-doctoral work at the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory prior to accepting her current position with USC Upstate. Her primary research focus involves an integrative approach to investigating how ecosystems respond to environmental change (natural and anthropogenic). She is interested in large scale questions regarding anthropogenic influences on nutrient cycling and understanding how individual animal responses to environmental variation impact population level processes. Thus, her research program integrates field ecology, biogeochemistry (e.g., stable isotopes), and ecophysiology. Her research platform coupled with experience mentoring undergraduates and managing professional development opportunities for undergraduates makes her well-suited to her current work at SREL with the NSF Radioecology Research Experiences for Undergraduates program. As part of the Radioecology REU, Melissa will be onsite at SREL each summer helping to manage program activities and assessment, as well as mentoring participants. She and Tracey Tuberville will co-mentor REU students conducting research on environmental contaminants as stressors and as tracers in reptiles.



Nicole White was a Master's student at the Daniel B. Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at UGA, where she was co-advised by Drs. Tracey Tuberville and Jeffrey Hepinstall-Cymerman. Her graduate research focused on the characterizing the social behavior and reproductive ecology of the gopher tortoise at Archbold Biological Station in Venus, Florida, in collaboration with Tracey Tuberville and Dr. Betsie Rothermel. View Nicole's ResearchGate profile.


Jacob Daly was a Master’s student at the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, where he was co-advised by Drs. Tracey Tuberville and Clint Moore. He also worked closely with Dr. Kurt Buhlmann (SREL). Jacob's work focused on head-starting the Mojave Desert Tortoise. Jacob now works as Natural Resource Specialist for Colorado State University's Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands (CEMML). View Jacob's ResearchGate profile.


Jared Green was a Master’s student at the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, co-advised by Drs. Tracey Tuberville and Richard Chandler. Jared’s research, in collaboration with PI Dr. Kurt Buhlmann (UGA/SREL), investigated the difference in growth and survival rates between headstarted and non-headstarted Blanding’s turtle hatchlings. View Jared's ResearchGate profile.


Matt Hamilton Hamilton was a Master’s student in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia under Drs. Tracey Tuberville and Robert Bringolf. Matt’s thesis research focused on the effects of long-term stressors, such as contaminants, on the stress response, immune function, and population status of American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) on the Savannah River Site. View Matt's ResearchGate profile.


Dan Quinn was a Master’s student in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia. Dan's research focused on the use of head-started gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) for augmenting populations in managed areas. His work was conducted under Drs. Tracey Tuberville and Kurt Buhlmann of SREL, and in collaboration with Dr. Terry Norton of St. Catherines Island Foundation. He was co-advised by Dr. Jeffrey Hepinstall-Cymerman at Warnell. View Dan's ResearchGate profile.