Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Joy O’Keefe

Joy O’Keefe grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina, the land of vinegar style BBQ and sweet tea, but always wanted to be from the Midwest, so it has worked out well that this has become her academic home. From a young age, Joy was passionate about conserving animals – first the voles the cat brought to the back door, then tigers were a passion, and finally bats captured her heart. She completed her B.S. in Zoology from North Carolina State University, completing a undergraduate thesis on behavior of Coquerel’s sifakas. Then she moved to Kentucky to do her M.S. in Biology, studying Ruffed Grouse at Eastern Kentucky University. She headed south again to complete her Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology at Clemson University studying the ecology of forest-dwelling bats in western North Carolina. Joy has since led many large-scale projects studying bat ecology in the southern Appalachian Mountains and the Midwest. Understanding bat responses to forest management has been a major focus of her work, but she is also keen on other types of conservation-oriented work for the threatened and endangered bats of eastern North America.

Master’s Students

Melissa Boman

Melissa Boman grew up in northern Minnesota, the land of 10,000+ lakes and endless rivers. She earned her bachelor of science in fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology from the University of Minnesota Twin-Cities in 2015. During this time she became fascinated by small mammals typically left out of the spotlight – the uncharismatic microfauna. This interest led to a position with the Minnesota Biological Survey conducting small mammal surveys, where she was first introduced to bat research. Stumbling across bats ignited a new passion and unparalleled curiosity, fueling the desire to pursue a graduate project focused on aiding bat conservation. Her Master’s work focuses on investigating microclimate profiles of bat boxes and preference of bats for box types, as well as testing the utility of acoustic lures to promote box use by bats. Through her research she hopes to improve guidelines for bat box use as a mitigation tool in a northern climate. In addition to connecting to nature through science, Melissa also enjoys integrating appreciation of the natural world in her life as an artist and fly angler.

Meredith Hoggatt

Meredith Hoggatt is originally from the suburbs of Indianapolis Indiana. She has always had a passion for mammals and wildlife conservation, as The Lion King and PBS Nature were her staples of entertainment. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a minor in Spanish at Ball State University in Muncie, IN. During undergrad, she was an intern for a research project studying urban and rural white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in Bloomington, IN. After graduating, she worked as a technician all over the southeastern and midwestern United States on deer and bat projects. Her Master’s work focuses on comparing population estimation models using passive acoustics on Indiana bats (Myotis sodalis), and developing a more reliable filter for Indiana bats in acoustic identification programs. Her hobbies include hiking, caring for her houseplants, and being overly confident at bar trivia.

Doctoral Students

Lizz Beilke

Lizz Beilke originates from Wisconsin, the land of beer, cheese, beer cheese, and other yellow foods. She earned her bachelor of science in ecology and environmental biology from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. There, her research focused on behavioral mechanisms of isolation in Bahamian pupfish and pedagogy in conservation biology. After graduating, she spent a few years working for USGS in North and South Dakota and then USFWS in Mississippi. After having studied assorted fish, bird, and insect species, she settled on bats for her Ph.D. Lizz is interested in a variety of ecological topics, but her thoughts are currently occupied by resource partitioning, foraging ecology, and trophic cascades. Her dissertation is focused on the ways different bat species share resources (time, space, and prey) and how bats affect the ecosystems they are a part of. She is also studying the diet, foraging ecology, and sexually-dichromatic fur color of the best bat, the Eastern red bat. She will be looking for a post-doc position in the near future. 

Reed Crawford

Reed Crawford is originally from the small town of Riley in west-central Indiana. He completed his Bachelor’s in biology in 2018 at Indiana State University, during which he worked on several Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) related projects in central and southern Indiana. In 2020, he completed his Master’s at Eastern Kentucky University, studying Indiana bats and artificial roost usage in northern Kentucky and central Indiana. Reed’s PhD research focuses on the thermoregulatory strategies used by Indiana bats in both artificial and natural roosts. Additionally, he is building a variety of rocket box style bat houses for future work. Reed is also interested in roost selection and studying ecological traps.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Louis Hunninck

Louis Hunninck is originally from the land of beer and chocolate: Belgium, where he completed his BSc in Biology on beetle community composition in the TEREC group at Ghent University. After completing his MSc in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution on socio-economic drivers of African elephant population changes at the Norwegian University for Science and Technology, he took his PhD at the same university studying how anthropogenic and environmental disturbances affect physiological and nutritional stress, and behavior in impala in the Serengeti ecosystem. Some general interests of Louis are behavioral ecology, occupancy modelling, and conservation physiology. As part of the NABat program, Louis’ postdoc project will aim to collate data for the Midwestern NABat hub, and analyze distribution and migration patterns of several bat species.

Clarissa Starbuck

Clarissa Starbuck is originally from the land of caves, springs, and toasted ravioli: Missouri. She has been fascinated by bats since at least the age of seven and has been involved in bat research since she was an undergrad at the University of Missouri. She also received her MS from Missouri, and then she spent five years in the much drier southwest to get her PhD from Northern Arizona University. Now she has returned to the Midwest and is working on a project to determine effects of forest management on Indiana bats in northeast Missouri. 

Undergraduate Students

Katrina Cotten

Katrina Cotten is from the Chicago suburbs. Growing up, she didn’t know much about the environment but has grown a particular interest in conserving wildlife species and understanding their ecology. She’s currently working toward a Bachelor’s in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences. After graduating, she hopes to start working as a wildlife technician and possibly pursue a Master’s in the future.

Emma Weber

Emma Weber was born and raised in Illinois. Originally from the small town of Rantoul, she became fascinated in the life sciences and took every science class she possibly could. She recently graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences. Emma was a research assistant with the Midwestern NABat hub, and oversaw stakeholder engagement, data collection, and contribute to research on distribution occupancy models of several bat species. Her hobbies include going to concerts, bird watching, and raising chickens with her family.

Lab Alumni

Timothy Divoll, PhD (2014–2020), Data Scientist, SWCA Environmental Consultants

Francis Tillman, MS (2017–2019), PhD Student at University of Memphis

James Cox, MS (2017–2019), Data Analyst, North American Bat Monitoring Project (USGS)

Julia Hoeh, MS (2015–2017), Biological Science Technician, USGS

Vanessa Rojas, PhD (2013–2018), Asst. Professor at SUNY-ESF Ranger School

Caroline Byrne, MS (2013–2015), Biologist at Biodiversity Research Institute

Scott Bergeson, PhD (2012–2017), Asst. Professor at Purdue-Fort Wayne University

Joseph Pettit, PhD (2012–2015; co-advised by J. Speer), Asst. Professor at Minot State University

Joey Weber, MS (2013–2015), Research Associate at Indiana State University

Zach Kaiser, MS (2012–2014), Biologist at Ecology and Environment, Inc.

Tara Thomson, MS (2011–2013), Admissions Counselor at Georgia Gwinnett College

Kristina Hammond, MS (2011–2013); Biologist at Western Ecosystems Technology, Inc.