Matt McCary (he/him), Assistant Professor
My research examines the fundamental drivers and constraints of soil biodiversity, specifically how diversity relates to food web dynamics, community and ecosystem responses to environmental disturbances, and the feedback loops between food webs and ecosystem functioning. There are three major questions I investigate: (1) What are the impacts of fragmentation on ecosystem and community processes? (2) How do invasive species change soil biodiversity and associated ecosystem health? (3) How does ecosystem structure affect food web responses to changes in resource availability? To address these questions, I use an integrative approach that includes observational and experimental studies, ecological modeling, meta-analyses, and molecular techniques.
B.A. Biology. North Central College, 2010
Ph.D. Biology. University of Illinois-Chicago, 2016
Modeline Celestin, PhD student
My name is Modeline Celestin and my pronouns are she/her. I am from Belle Glade, Florida, where our acclaimed motto is “Her soil is her fortune.” It occupies the unceded homelands of the Mayami, Seminole, and Taíno nations. As a young child tethered to the land, I inherited the intrinsic values my parents harvested from their manual labor as migrant farmworkers.
I earned my B.A. in Sustainability Studies and minored in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida. During my time there, I worked extensively around the United States and South Africa in different capacities. My broad research interest focuses on exploring the varying dynamics of how anthropogenic activities influence biodiversity and ecosystem health.
My passion outside of research stems from amplifying the voices of historically underrepresented groups marginalized in the scientific community. My hobbies include window shopping, cooking food with friends, wine-tasting, watching anime, playing competitive tennis, collecting and trading Hoya plants, and spending quality time with my guinea pigs, Copper and Zinc.
Amoi Campbell, PhD student
I am currently a doctoral student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Program in the Department of BioSciences at Rice University. I received a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology from Howard University. During the first year of the pandemic I did a research fellowship at University of Pittsburgh. Much of the research I have done in the past has a few common threads: anthropogenic stress on plant-microbe-animal interactions, plant competition, and biological invasions.
Between my interest in plant ecology and love of learning soil methodologies, I found myself in the McCary Lab. I enjoy a mix of both lab and field work, as there is nothing like a gloved hand full of dirt. Growing up under the Florida sun, I spent a great deal of time outdoors. I suppose that became the foundation for who I am today. I am excited by urban ecology and environmental justice. I strive to be a part of a community of ecologists who holistically works to empower marginalized people and safeguard earth's natural systems. Outside of work I enjoy hiking, weekend afternoon naps, losing a day in the bookstore, hunting down vinyl records, and people watching.