About Us

About Us

Our Mission

  • We are a team of interdisciplinary researchers and students at Virginia Tech.
  • Our aim is to improve the outcomes of ecological restoration through cutting edge research and capacity building.
  • We value strong ecological curiosity, tenacity in pursuit of knowledge, clear and honest communication, compassion and mutual support.

Our Team: The Cecropias

Cecropia outing to McAfee Knob, February 2022. Left to right: Jordan Coscia, Leighton Reid, Rachel Smith, Chris Logan, Michael Mellett, junior Cecropias, Melissa Burt (Whitehead Lab), Sarah Grace Kubesch, Hattie, Jonathan Kubesch (Tracy Lab)

Leighton Reid

Leighton Reid is an Assistant Professor in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech. He has written extensively on ecological restoration and biodiversity conservation and is among the most well-cited experts in the subfield of spatially-patterned restoration. His current research focuses on improving the outcomes of ecological restoration in temperate and tropical terrestrial ecosystems. He also teaches courses on ecological restoration. He advises restoration projects in Virginia and internationally and is a research associate at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Jordan Coscia

PhD student. Jordan’s ecological interests include plant community ecology, the impact of introduced species and pathogens on native species, and ecosystem restoration. She is studying the development of plant communities, arthropod communities, and soil chemistry throughout the process of eastern warm-season grassland restoration.

Michael Beall

MS student. Ecological impacts of invasive Arthraxon hispidus on native grasslands in Virginia.

David Bellangue

MS student. Ecological impacts of invasive Georgia native and a Crop and Soil Environmental Science master’s student. My passions lie in native plant horticulture and conservation as well as educating people about the amazing diversity and beauty of plants in their own backyard.

Matt Hill

Research associate and executive director of Green Again Madagascar.

Chris Logan

Undergraduate researcher studying native tree seedling survival in dry season plantings in eastern Madagascar.

Rachel Smith

Undergraduate researcher studying mutualistic network-based tree selection for tropical forest restoration in Latin America.

Graduate Alumni

  • Crislaine de Almeida (Visiting student 2020), PhD student at Federal University of São Carlos, Brazil
  • Victoria de la Paz Bernasconi Torres (Visiting student 2019, MOBOT)
  • Frederico Domene (Visiting student 2018, MOBOT), Postdoctoral researcher at the University of São Paulo, Brazil
  • Matt Hill (Visiting student 2017-2018, MOBOT), Executive Director, Green Again Madagascar
  • Estefania Pilar Fernandez Barrancos (Visiting student 2016, MOBOT), PhD student at University of Missouri St. Louis

Undergraduate Alumni

  • Kathlynn Lewis (2021, VPI)
  • Mahala Lorenzo (2019, MOBOT)
  • Alex Mendes (2018, MOBOT)
  • Victoria Beishir (2017, MOBOT)
  • Joseph Smith (2017, MOBOT)
  • Olivia Hajek (2016, MOBOT)

High School Alumni

  • Ethan Dunn (2021, VPI)
Lab meeting in the Ag Quad, March 2022. Left to right: Rachel Smith, Michael Mellett, Dominic Uhelski, Chris Logan, Melissa Burt (Whitehead Lab), Jonathan Kubesch (Tracy Lab), Jordan Coscia, David Bellangue, Michael Beall (represented by laptop computer on bottom bench), Leighton Reid
The Cecropias doing socially distanced vegetation sampling in a grassland in northern Virginia, June 2020. From left to right: Jared Gorrell, Jordan Coscia, Leighton Reid, Kathlynn Lewis, Michael Beall
MOBOT CCSD lab group summer 2017. From left to right: Matthew Albrecht, Victoria Beishir, James Lucas, Claire Waldman, Joseph Smith, Leighton Reid.

Some of our partners

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