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Graduate Students

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Emily Urquidi

I have been in the BREE lab for over a year as a grad student, and it has been a wonderful experience. During my undergrad, I worked on a project that used community science to study Southern Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus helleri) hunting behavior. For my graduate work I have been studying how urbanization affects Western Fence Lizard's (Sceloporus occidentalis) health, stress, and response to competitors. So far we have found that urbanization may have different effects depending on site, and that urbanization affects ectoparasite presence. I recently advanced to candidacy and am looking forward to defending my thesis. Very excited to see what else we find!


Stephanie Ruck

Interests include studying how environmental variables influence organismal behavior, physiology, and evolution. Previous and current experience includes working with federal agencies to collect data on herpetofauna of Southern California to better inform conservation management decisions. For my Master’s thesis, I will be studying the behavioral response of lizards to wildfire cues as well as the selection pressures populations may face from such disturbances. 


Elmer Gutierrez

Hi! I joined the BREE Lab in 2019 as an undergrad and it has changed my academic endeavors for the better. As an undergrad, I was given the opportunity to look at microclimate fluctuations across a gradient of urbanization and their implication on animals. Fast forward to now, I am a graduate student in the lab and am interested in fire ecology. For my project, I am looking at predation risk in burned vs unburned areas in Southern California. I’m looking forward to seeing what we find!

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Daisy Xiong

This will be my first year in the BREE Lab. As an undergraduate, I worked with invertebrates and looked at the effects of organic substances, called chalcones, on parasitic nematodes. My thesis project still has to be determined but it will involve observations of Sceloporus lizards in urban vs. natural environments. I am excited to start my graduate program and learn new things about ecology with the BREE Lab members.

Undergraduate Students


Bayley Stevens

Research: The effect of urbanization on the size of male sexual signals in Western Fence Lizards

- Just graduated! Bayley is now working with the Great Basin Institute as a desert tortoise survey technician.

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