Laura Dee (PI):

I am an Assistant Professor of Large-Scale Ecology in the Department of Ecology and Evolution (EBIO) at CU Boulder. Previously, I was an Assistant Professor of Conservation Science in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology and an Associate Fellow at the Institute on the Environment. I earned my Ph.D. in Ecology at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) in 2015, completing a concurrent M.A. in Economics, and hold a B.S. in marine biology from Brown University. My Ph.D. research, at the Bren School at UCSB, focused on the impacts of temperature variability and biodiversity on global fisheries yields and the extent to which managing for ecosystem services provides an economic incentive for conservation.  As a post-doctoral associate at the University of Minnesota, I examined how climate change affects ecosystem services provided by boreal forests and management strategies to reduce those impacts in a project co-advised by Peter Reich and Steve Polasky.

Contact me: Laura.Dee[@]

Graduate Students 

Aislyn Keyes 

Aislyn Keyes is a PhD student in EBIO at CU Boulder interested in marine conservation and the interactions between human and natural systems. Her current research focuses on food webs and ecosystem services. Specifically, her project seeks to understand how species interactions in coastal food webs indirectly impact ecosystem services in the face of global change. Aislyn graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2017 with a BS in Sustainability, Spanish, and Marine biology. She hopes to work alongside coastal communities to create solutions that benefit people and the environment. Aislyn enjoys SCUBA diving, taking trips in her van, baking, and her bike.

Meghan Hayden

Meghan Hayden is a PhD student in EBIO at CU Boulder interested in global change impacts to ecosystems and their functioning across spatial scales. She uses functional-trait based approaches to understand when and why communities respond to climate and management drivers, and uses remote sensing imagery to quantify change in communities via spectral properties and across larger spatial scales.

Anna LoPresti 

Anna LoPresti's research is focused on the impacts of climate change and disturbance events on the provisioning of ecosystem services. Currently, she is interested in the use and management of prescribed burning as a wildfire risk reduction strategy in the Western US. Through her research, she is asking: 1. whether and under what conditions prescribed burning reduces wildfire severity; 2. how prescribed burning impacts cultural and biophysical ecosystem services such as carbon or cultural values; and 3. whether and where US communities are incorporating fuel treatments into their climate adaptation planning. She combine methods from the social sciences, GIS, and remote sensing to understand how we can better adapt to climate change with ecosystem-based approaches. Anna is co-leading with Laura a funded Morpho working group through the National Center for Ecological Analysis & Synthesis (NCEAS) on prescribed burning and ecosystem services, to bring together an interdisciplinary research and practionier team. To read more, see

Rebecca McHugh

Rebecca McHugh is a masters student in the EBIO program at CU Boulder. She is interested in understanding the relationship between conservation ecology and ecosystem services. Rebecca’s research studies the urban heat island effect in the city of Boulder. Using remote sensing techniques she will determine how to best manage ecological systems so that they have increased adaptability and resilience in the face of climate change. See here to read more about Rebecca's research and here to learn more about our collaborative project with the City of Boulder's Climate Department's Cool Boulder Initiaitve focused on nature-based solutions.

Lucy Van Kleunen 

Lucy is a PhD student joint between Computer Science and EBIO, co-advised with Dr. Aaron Clauset. Her research uses ecological network approaches to predict the impacts of anthropogenic disturbances on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Despite the importance of species interactions for predicting disturbance impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services, collecting data on species interactions is labor-intensive, thus detailed accounts of species interactions and strengths remain uncertain in many ecosystems. Further, one cannot directly observe those novel interactions that have not yet been realized but might be realized in the future if species are moved or face sufficient pressure. Her thesis research focuses on these cases of interaction uncertainty - asking, can we predict which missing interactions within species interaction datasets are in fact true or potential interactions? And, what are the range of impacts to biodiversity and ecosystem services that we might anticipate after disturbances under uncertainty in species interactions? This work contributes to methods research within network science and machine learning, contributes fundamental knowledge about ecosystem structure and dynamics, and has applied relevance for ecosystem conservation and management. 

Henry Li 

Henry Li is a 2nd-year PhD student in EBIO interested in studying how species interact within ecosystems, and how those interactions impact ecosystem functioning and ecosystem services. He utilize quantitative methods from network theory and causal inference to analyze trophic interactions and parasite-host dynamics. He aims to gain insights from both theoretical and empirical approaches that can inform policy changes for the benefit of both humans and the natural ecosystems around us.

Post-doctoral Researchers and Fellows

Dr. Katherine Siegel 

Dr. Siegel is a NOAA Climate & Global Change Fellow and an interdisciplinary environmental scientist studying how management interacts with other drivers of change in social-ecological systems. Currently, I am looking at how land management and changing wildfire regimes affect post-fire forest recovery trajectories. She use econometric methods for causal inference, ecological functional trait analyses, and ecosystem service modeling to understand the composition and functioning of forests after wildfires in the western US.  

Dr. Elisa Van Cleemput 

Dr. Van Cleemput am a plant community ecologist, studying environmental and anthropogenic impacts (e.g., invasion, drought, grazing, fire) on biodiversity patterns and ecosystem functioning. She incorporates data and analysis techniques from various disciplines, most notably from remote sensing. She is interested in and have experience working directly with local stakeholders to inform local management, and is currently funded by NASA BioSCape. 

Undergraduate Students

Soleil Foy

Soleil Foy is an undergraduate student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is interested in marine biology, ecology, and conservation. Soleil previously worked at the Arthropod-Borne and Infectious Diseases Laboratory at Colorado State University raising several mosquito colonies and assisting with fieldwork. Soleil also enjoys cooking, rock climbing, traveling, and photography.


Postdoctoral researchers and fellows

Dr. Katie Peterson was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the NSF National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, working with Laura Dee and Dr. Kristin Kleisner (EDF) to examine the repercussions of temperature variability in a multi-species fishery. Katie is a quantitative ecologist who is interested in how interspecific interactions shape community dynamics and the applications of this ecological knowledge for conservation and sustainable management. Her background spans theoretical ecology, fisheries management, and environmental physiology. She has also been fortunate to do in field work in a variety of ecosystems, including the Great Barrier Reef, wetlands in Southeastern Louisiana, and desert grasslands of central California. Katie is now a Research Scientist at the National Renewable Energy Lab. 

Dr. Lilli Kaarakka Dr. Kaarakka’s research as a Fellow at CU Boulder was focused on nature-based solutions for forest carbon management from the perspective of silviculture and forest soil in the Great Lakes region. This research was supported by the Finnish Cultural Foundation,  and done in partnership with The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota (Dr. Meredith Cornett). Dr. Kaarakka is now an Assistant Professor in the Natural Resources Management & Environmental Sciences program at Cal Poly. 

Dr. Kaitlin Kimmel was a Postdoctoral Researcher at CU Boulder focused on adaptive management under climate change and causal inference mehtods applied to Ecology and ecosystem management. Dr. Kimmel is now the lead scientist for impact at Mad Agriculture, a regenerative agricultural start up based in Boulder, CO. 

Dr. Aaron Schwartz as a Postdoctoral Researcher focused on adaptive management under climate change at CU Boulder. He is now a data scientist working for Ampersand. 

Graduate students 

Hugh Ratcliffe 

Hugh Ratcliffe completed his masters in the Conservation Sciences program at the University of Minnesota. His research explored the intersection of climate change and conservation with a focus on evaluating the effectiveness of adaptation strategies. Key areas for Hugh’s current research include: determining the suitability management strategies which aim to resist the impacts of climate change versus those which aim to facilitate biotic changes, assessing the utility of managed relocation for both rare and common species, and exploring the potential co-benefits and trade-offs between species conservation focused objectives and ecosystem service objectives. Before beginning his masters, Hugh worked as a Senior Analyst for an energy efficiency and climate policy consulting firm in Portland, Oregon. He holds a BA in Earth and Oceanographic Science and Environmental Studies from Bowdoin College and in his spare time enjoys backpacking, playing soccer, arguing about films, and caving. Hugh is now a Fellow at the USGS Midwest Climate Adaptation Science Center.  

Undergraduate honors students 

Lexi Wilkes

Hailey Weunstenberg