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Our Research Group

Our team brings together complementary experience in ecosystem and community ecology, social science, science outreach and engagement, and project management

The Team

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Deron Burkepile

Project Leader / PI

Dr. Deron Burkepile is a Professor at the 
University of California, Santa Barbara. Deron employs experimental and observational studies as well as large-scale data syntheses to address how global change drivers impact biodiversity, community structure, and ecosystem function. His research focuses on questions that provide fundamental understanding about the ecology of communities and ecosystems while also informing the conservation and restoration of these systems He has worked for over a decade in African savannas. 

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Joshua Schimel

Senior Researcher / Co-PI

Dr. Josh Schimel is a Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is a “Highly Cited Researcher” and Soil Ecologist, whose work explores how soil microbial communities function and how they, in turn, regulate global ecological processes. He is also author of Writing Science: how to write papers that get cited and proposals that get funded, and the new book (expected 2022) Your Future on the Faculty, both by Oxford University Press.

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Johan du Toit

Senior Researcher / Co-PI

Dr. Johan du Toit is a Professor at Utah State University. His research interests focus on large mammals and their interactions with other animals and plants in terrestrial ecosystems. Born and raised in rural Zimbabwe, he has a particular fascination for the ecology of African savannas, while now also exploring solutions to conservation problems in western North America. He conducted his doctoral research on browsing ecology in Kruger, where he has also supervised several subsequent projects conducted by his students, and he was lead editor of The Kruger Experience: Ecology and Management of Savanna Heterogeneity (Island Press, 2003).

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Nathan Lemoine

Senior Researcher / Co-PI

Dr. Nathan Lemoine is an Assistant Professor at Marquette University. Nathan uses a combination of laboratory experiments, field experiments, and theoretical modeling to understand the ecological and evolutionary ramifications of climate warming on plant and insect communities. He also studies the role of insect herbivores in North American grasslands, and how extreme drought strengthens or weaken insect contributions to biogeochemical cycling.

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Aimee Tallian

Broader Impact Specialist / Co-PI

Dr. Aimee Tallian is a Wildlife Biologist whose research primarily focuses on large carnivores, predator-prey interactions, and predator-predator competition. She is also a Broader Impacts Specialist who is passionate about making science engaging, accessible, and equitable. 

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Tercia Strydom

Researcher / Collaborator

Tercia Strydom is a Scientist with the Savanna & Grassland Research Unit in Kruger National Park, South Africa. Most of her research focuses on soil science, in particular the effects of fire on soil and ecosystem function. 

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Dave Thompson

Researcher / Collaborator

Dr. Dave Thompson is a global change scientist with the South African Environmental Observation Network and the University of the Witwatersrand. His current research interests include plant population dynamics and community-level responses to disturbances such as fire, herbivory and climate change in grasslands and savannas. He has over a decade of  experience working with the flora and fauna of the Kruger National park.

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Izak Smit

Researcher / Collaborator

Dr. Izak Smit is the Science Manager for Systems Ecology, GIS and Remote Sensing for the Savanna & Grassland Research Unit in Kruger National Park. Most of his work can be described as applied conservation/ecology science, usually on topics with relevance to management of Protected Areas (e.g. fire management, artificial water management, ecosystem services). 

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Matthew Meng

Researcher / Collaborator

Dr. Matthew Meng is an Assistant Professor of Marketing in the Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. He is a social scientist whose previous experience working with not-for-profit organizations steered his research interests towards social marketing and sustainability.

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Tom Bouyer

Videographer / Director / Collaborator

Tom Bouyer is the co-founder of Delmar Media and a film director. His primary aim is to create authentic media content, for he considers it to be the key to transforming the simplest of ideas into a full-body experience for the viewer. His creativity and beliefs represent the backbone to his sensitivity and expertise as a filmmaker and photographer.

Sponsors 

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Collaborators

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