We are a diverse group of individuals, with expertise in urban ecology, entomology, horticulture, landscape design and maintenance, and horticultural therapy. We are united by a common interest in discovering and disseminating ways to harness the power of gardens to improve environmental and human health.
Prospective students are invited to get to know our work, prior to applying. I accept students and post-docs (when funding is available) who have an interest in any of our core areas of expertise. I do not anticipate accepting new graduate students until at least the Fall of 2024.
Interested in joining the lab? Please read this blog post, first.
I receive close to 100 graduate school queries, each year. I do not respond to generic emails that do not express why you are specifically interested in working in the Garden Ecology Lab, and what types of specific projects you would be interested in working on.
Current Lab Members
Gail Langellotto (Principle Investigator): An entomologist by training, Gail coordinates the statewide Master Gardener program. Her research and extension interests are focused on developing a better understanding of how to design and manage gardens and parks within urban/suburban landscapes to maximize ecosystem services such as pollination, pest control and human health and well-being. Starting in 2017, she hopes to work closely with Master Gardeners in home and community gardens, to begin documenting garden biodiversity in Oregon.
Svea Bruslind is an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Zoology with minors in Photography and Chemistry. A born and raised Oregonian, Svea has spent most of her life outside exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Svea is currently assisting with a research project concerned with simulating bee vision using multispectral photography. Svea is interested in integrating photography into the scientific sphere and using it as a tool to explore the world.
Signe Danler, a lifelong gardener and plant nerd, brought her passion for plants to OSU and earned a Masters of Agriculture degree in 2014. Her wide-ranging interests were fulfilled by coursework in Horticulture, Urban Forestry, Environmental Science, and Soil Science. Her particular area of focus is urban horticulture and applying ecological principles to landscape design and maintenance. She is now teaching sustainable gardening as instructor of the online OSU Extension Master Gardener course, and designing ecologically sensitive gardens as a landscape designer.
Jen Hayes is a PhD candidate in Horticulture (with a concentration in Entomology). Jen is a Vermonter who is passionate about pollinators; she fell in love with native bees as an undergraduate in the Ricketts Lab at the University of Vermont. Since her first exposure to bee research, she has had the opportunity work on pollinator studies in Vermont, Ecuador, North Dakota, and Oregon. She is interested in how human-developed landscapes, such as farms and gardens, can achieve dual goals of pollinator conservation and plant productivity.
Mallory Mead is an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Sustainable Horticulture with a minor in Entomology. Mallory has always had an interest in the natural world and sustainability, and she is curious about pollination ecology and sustainable pest management. She is currently an assistant for Jen’s nativar study, and loves to photograph and identify bees in her free time.
Gwynne Mhuireach: Dr. Gwynne Mhuireach has a multi-disciplinary background, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, a Masters in Architecture, and a PhD in Landscape Architecture. With this unique perspective, Gwynne studies relationships between nature contact, environmental microbial communities, and human well-being. Her broader goal is to design healthier and more equitable cities, neighborhoods, and homes.
Mykl Nelson: Mykl received his Master’s of Horticulture in June 2018, as part of his overall plan to create a sustainable community of alternative learning and living. His work focused on urban garden soils. He is now creating new courses in Urban Agriculture for eCampus. He is interested in community gardening, how private growers overcome their hurdles, and fostering the abundance possible if we all networked together to create our own food.
Cara Still: Cara Still is a graduate student pursuing a Master’s in Horticulture. A born and raised Corvallis native, she has always loved getting out in the garden and creating some beauty. She took a brief hiatus from the area to obtain a Bachelor’s in Horticulture Science at Montana State University. She moved straight back to Oregon after all that and took a job growing for Westwind Gardens in Forest Grove. She is studying how breeding for sterility in butterfly bush (Buddleja) effects pollinator attraction, nutrition, and invasiveness. This research may serve as an example through which other ‘sterile’ cultivars of economically important invasive plants can be examined.
Past Lab Members
Aaron Anderson graduated with a Ph.D. in Horticulture. His dissertation focused on understanding insect association with native plants in garden systems. After dabbling in entomology, restoration ecology, and biological control, he became interested in studying urban systems. Aaron is fascinated by native beneficial insect conservation, especially in understanding how such species use urban green spaces as habitat to in turn inform how we manage these areas. He currently works as a Pesticide Program Specialist with the Xerces Society. Aaron was a 2021 AAAS Mass Media Fellow, where he reported on everything from heat waves to tech business news, and wrote long form stories on the tensions between growers and conservation biologists around an endangered species.
Angelee Calder: graduated with a degree in Agricultural Science. While at OSU, she was also a part of the OSU STEM Leaders Program. Angelee assisted with general lab and field work.
Lauren Bennett received a Masters of Natural Resources in 2019. A longtime lover of gardening, Lauren studied public perception of native pollinator species, to better understand drivers, barriers and other factors that restrict or support pollination services and increase habitat connectivity across urban landscapes.
Lucas Costner was an undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture with a focus on Ecological Landscapes and Urban Forestry. Motivated by the belief that improving human habitat also means working with and blurring the line between the built and natural worlds, he is primarily interested in the interrelations between ecology, sustainability, and horticulture in urban environments. Lucas was integral to the early establishment and success of Aaron’s Ph.D. project on insect associations with native wildlflowers of the Pacific Northwest.
Isabella Messer graduated with a B.S. in Horticulture, and worked in our lab for nearly four years. She completed an independent research thesis on parasitoids in garden systems, and played an integral role in the 3-year study of garden bees in Portland.
Mericos Rhodes: Mericos Rhodes was born in Seattle in 1991. His dad owned and operated a retail nursery outside the city while he was young, and passed a love for plants and animals to Mericos. After studying philosophy in college, Mericos started working on organic farms, eventually co-founding Spoon Full Farm in Thorp, Washington, before moving down to Oregon State University. Mericos started his masters project in our lab group, but has since transferred to a group that focuses more on the non-fiction writing aspects of his project.
Max Simon worked in our lab for two terms, supporting various projects. He has a strong interest in honey bee keeping, and a passion for teaching.
Tyler Spofford: was an undergraduate lab and field technician. He graduated with a degree in BioResource Research with the Sustainable Ecosystems option and a minor in Soil Science. He was born in Portland, OR and was raised with a deep respect for nature and his Japanese culture. His BioResource Research project focused on studying the economic costs (versus dollar value harvest) of container-grown tomatoes. While working with the lab, Tyler supported Jen’s project on pollinator preference for native plants and cultivars, and Cara’s project on pollinator association with butterfly bush cultivars, Tyler was also a TA for the Organic Soil Management class, a cultural mentor for MANNRs and SACNAS, and one of the 2021 REUU Grant recipients.
Robert Yarnall was pursuing his Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies in our lab, for a short time, before switching to a sociology program. We were sad to lose Robert, but agree that his interests in social justice and horticulture were better served by the sociology department, than our lab group.