Current Lab Members

Jim Bever

Jim Bever (he/him)

Professor of Biology


I am interested in testing basic ecological and evolutionary processes occurring within plants and their associated fungi. Read More…

Peggy Schultz

Peggy Schultz (she/her)

Associate Specialist, Environmental Studies Program


My research extends from understanding factors that underlie the re-establishment of prairies to environmental education. Read More…

Lab Managers

Patti Beedles (she/her/hers)

Patti Beedles
I joined the Bever/Schultz Lab in 2021 as a Research Project Coordinator, working predominantly on the Dimensions of Biodiversity project. Before my current position, I worked as an Assistant Researcher at the KU Field Station since 2019, aiding scientists in field based ecological research and working with staff on management and stewardship of Field Station lands. After graduating from KU in 2012, I’ve held a handful of positions representing the profit, non-profit and governmental sectors. I worked in ecological restoration and native plant propagation as the Grower at Applied Ecological Services in Baldwin City, Kansas, and as a Volunteer Coordinator for the Seed Team at Kansas City WildLands. I love collaborating with others and creating more efficient systems, and I’m a dedicated life-long learner looking forward to advancing my knowledge in the Bever/Schultz Lab.

Jaide Hawkins (she/her/hers)

Patti Beedles
I am a lab manager working mostly on projects for the New Roots for Restoration Biological Institute. Before joining the Bever/Schultz lab I was working in the Watershed Management Section at Kansas Department of Health and Environment, managing grants and projects funded by the Clean Water Act Section 319. I graduated with my MS in Biology from Kansas State in December 2020, where my thesis research investigated the effects of bison grazing and fire management on soil microbial biogeography and activity in the Great Plains. I have held other research positions in the fields of agro-ecology and grassland biodiversity. I am generally interested in how soil microbiomes function and respond to management in natural and agricultural systems and am excited to be part of a collaborative team.

Alexa Phillips (she/her)

Alexa PhillipsI am the Molecular Lab Manager for the Bever/Schultz Lab, and I am also assisting with the Dimensions project. Previously I have worked in labs focused on the learning behaviors of social animals, such as Monk Parakeets and Western Honeybees, but I am broadly interested in ecology and conservation. I am excited to learn more about plant-microbe interactions and how human disturbances are affecting prairie ecology.

Lab Technicians

Isabelle Ellington (she/her)

Isabelle Ellington

I am a recent graduate from KU, interested in conservation and restoration of natural habitats of both plants and animals. I plan on obtaining a law degree with a focus on conservation law!

Postdoctoral Fellows

Liz Koziol (she/her)

Liz KoziolMy graduate work focused on native prairie mycorrhizal fungi. I collected prairie mycorrhizae from old-growth prairies and cultured the for use in restoration. Through this work, I found that inoculation with prairie microbes including mycorrhizal can help prairie seedlings and seeded species establish in a restoration. I found that some late successional plant species–those that are most often only found in late successional, remnant and undisturbed prairie communities–will only establish in restorations with the inclusion of their below ground prairie mycorrhizae. I was so impressed with what prairie fungi could do to improve restoration, that I began a small business called MycoBloom so that I can provide these prairie fungi to others.

My current research is sponsored the Kansas Biological Station, the Land Institute, and the Malone Family Land Preservation Foundation. I am working with the perennial plant species that the Land Institute has been conducting research on including Kernza, Silphium, perennial wheat and perennial Sorghum. Some of these plants, Silphium for example, are later successional prairie species. Based on my research in the prairie, these species are likely to be strongly dependent on mycorrhizal fungi. Currently, I am isolating mycorrhizal fungi from prairies in Kansas to inoculate perennial crop species in field and greenhouse studies at the new greenhouse and field stations in Lawrence, Kansas.

Terra Lubin (she/her)

Terra LubinMy research focuses on interactions of the plant community with soil microbes, particularly in grasslands and grassland restorations in North America. I want to understand impacts of these interactions on plant communities in a variety of biotic and abiotic environments in order to better translate ecological research of plant-soil feedbacks into practical applications for restoration. One of my goals is to find ways to increase communication of knowledge and data between different research disciplines, and between ecologists and restoration practitioners.

Susan Magnoli (she/her)

Susan MagnoliI am a postdoc in the Bever/Schultz Lab broadly interested in evolutionary ecology and plant-microbe interactions, with the goal of better understanding population establishment in novel habitats. My dissertation research focused on rapid adaptation in recently restored plant populations, showing that populations can experience evolutionary changes in phenology and mutualism-related traits in only a few generations after establishment. My postdoc research focuses on the role of rhizobial composition in determining the success of legume species across grasslands of varying land-use histories. By examining legume-rhizobia interactions in this context I hope to determine how this mutualism influences the establishment of both desirable late-successional native legumes and weedy legumes that inhibit restoration success.

Rondy Malik

Rondy’s research interest spans the realm of applied and basic ecology. His past research topics have included population structure of a non-indigenous weed, microbial bioprotection of crops, microbes in trophic ecology, and wood decomposition in eastern mixed hardwood forests. Currently, Rondy is interested in unraveling ways in which elements of global change may impact microbes and plant secondary metabolites.

Justin VanGoor (he/him)

Justin VanGoorI am an evolutionary ecologist that is broadly interested in the evolution of and interplay between mutualism and antagonism within communities, maintenance of community-level associations, the evolution of virulence, sex ratio adjustment, sex determination, reproductive mode evolution, and sexual selection. I generally address these research interests using nematodes as a focal taxon, but have gained experience working with various insects and plants as well. My current project examines the interaction between figs, fig wasps, nematodes, and fungi in domesticated and non-domesticated Ficus species/communities using field observations, experiments, microscopy, biogeography, and phylogenomics.

Doctoral Students

Reb Bryant

Reb BryantI joined the Bever/Schultz Lab in August 2020 after completing my BS in Environmental Science at Rice University in Houston, TX. While there, I researched the viral community of coral endosymbionts and worked with local organizations on a prairie restoration project. My current research interests include how we can use soil microbes like mycorrhizal fungi to improve native plant biodiversity in prairie restorations. I am also passionate about working with different organizations to establish local field studies and garnering community involvement in restoring their native ecosystems.

Haley Burrill (she/her)

Haley BurrillI came to Kansas during the summer of 2018 after completing my BS in Plant Science from the University of California, Santa Cruz. At UCSC, I was involved in a plant disease ecology lab where I did my undergraduate thesis research. After graduating, I spent a year working in the desert doing invasive species removal in Utah and botany transects in the Nevada’s Spring Mountains. Summer 2020, I completed my master’s work, which explored the response of fungal plant pathogens to plant species richness and phylogenetic relatedness. I decided to stay in the lab for my PhD to build off my master’s research analyzing the response of other microbial communities in the same experiment and exploring pathogen accumulation in both invasive species monocultures and native prairie restorations.

Laura Podzikowski (she/her)

Laura PodzikowskiI am broadly interested in how human activities are altering biogeochemical cycling on this planet.  However, to understand our impacts, there are fundamental questions in ecology that remain unanswered. For example, we still don’t have a clear understanding of how biodiversity mechanistically contributes to ecosystem functioning on multiple scales.  This makes it difficult to predict how realistic scenarios of species loss or addition might alter biogeochemical cycles.  For my PhD thesis I am exploring the links between mechanisms maintaining biodiversity in grassland systems and ecosystem function.  This work is part of a large biodiversity manipulation experiment taking place at the KU Field Station.

Theo Michaels (she/her)

Theo MichaelsI love thinking about restoration in the context of culture, science and management. I am particularly interested in grasslands because of their subtle beauty, the way they play with wind, and because they often intersect wild and working spaces. My research goal is to find innovative ways to interface with ecosystem processes to drive restoration efforts.Specifically, I am interested in plant-soil interactions because they represent a mechanism that inherently creates feedbacks that we may be able to use and manipulate as tools for restoration.

Rob Ramos

Rob RamosEvolutionary Biology has always been central to my research focus. I am specifically interested in the evolution and persistence of symbiotic relationships. Mycorrhizal fungi are a vital vital part of the soil community with strong symbiotic relationships with many prairie plants. Having grown up in the Midwest, I have always been fond of prairie systems. The high rate of both natural and anthropogenic disturbances create an intriguing research venue. I also have a background in geospatial analysis and would like to apply geospatial modeling techniques to prairie systems and symbiotic mycorrhizal relationships.

Yufan Zhou (he/him)

Yufan ZhouI am a first-year Ph.D. aspirant who joined the Bever/Schultz Lab in August 2021 after completing my BS in Botany at Purdue University (IN, USA). I also have another BS diploma from China Agricultural University (Beijing, China). At Purdue, I was working with Gordon McNickle on mycorrhizal networks’ impact on plant competition. When in China, I had experience on the agricultural application of mycorrhizae and on molecular work of a plant pathogen bacteria. My current interests focus on microbial community assembly, specifically to understand how microbiome was changed along the domestication of annual wheatgrasses to perennial cultivars.

Masters Students

Rebekah Wagner

Rebekah WagnerI am interested in theoretical ecology, plant community ecology, plant-soil feedbacks, and prairie conservation. My theoretical work includes analyzing a mechanistic model of plant-symbiont interactions to better understand synergistic relationships in plant hosts with differing life history characteristics, conditioned to varying environmental conditions. My field work, explores the demography of prairie plants treated with biodiversity, precipitation, and soil microbe community gradients. A majority of a prairie plants biomass can be underground, so it is vital to understand how plant communities respond to various soil communities to effectively repair the prairie.

Post-baccalaureate Students

Alex H. (she/her)

Madison Tunnell (she/her)

Madison TunnellI am the molecular lab technician in the Bever/Schultz Lab. I recently graduated from Kansas State University in December 2020 with a Bachelor’s in Agronomy and a minor in Plant Pathology. My research areas of interest are plant disease resistance and soil microbe interactions with the environment.

Alex Hoffpauir(she/her)

Alex HoffpauirI am a post-baccalaureate student with the Bever/Schultz lab. I have worked with this lab for two years collecting a variety of data and maintaining the Dimensions experiment. As a post-baccalaureate student I am working on a project that analyzes species composition, phylogeny, and species richness on weed suppression.

Undergraduate Students

Claire Blanck (she/her)

Claire BlanckI am a junior at KU majoring in Environmental Studies. I am very interested in learning about native plants in the field. I also plan on going into environmental law after my undergraduate so I can help people who are affected by pollution.

Megan Hamersky (she/her)

Megan HamerskyI am in the fourth year of my undergrad majoring in Atmospheric Science and Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology. My research interests include aquatic ecology and the relationships between the atmosphere and different aspects of the biotic world.

Megan Heffernan

Megan HeffernanI am a sophomore majoring in Environmental Studies. My research interests are in ocean and freshwater pollution and how human activity affects different ecosystems.

Victoria Hughes (she/her)

Victoria HughesI am a senior studying microbiology, and I’m interested in myco-feedback and learning about native plant species.

Crosby Jones

Crosby Jones

I am a fifth-year senior from St. Louis, MO, and I am working under Laura Podzikowski. I am an exercise science major pursuing a career in the physician assistant field!

Eleanor Matheis (she/her)

Eleanor Matheis

I am a senior in Environmental Studies with research interests in how microbial processes can improve prairie restoration. I am interested in examining how prairies provide ecosystem services to our communities such as flood and erosion prevention.

Audrey Nelson (she/her)

Audrey NelsonI am a junior EEOB major. I love field work research, and I am especially interested in conservation, marine biology, and ecosystem ecology.

Hannah Nuest (she/her)

Hannah Nuest

I am a junior studying Environmental Studies and Spanish. I am interested in relationships among soils, microbes, and plants, and how these are affected by human activities.

Kaitlyn Rawlings (she/her)

Kaitlyn RawlingsI am a sophomore at KU majoring in Environmental Studies. I am interested in biological conservation and restoration as well as better understanding humans’ relationship with the natural world.

Lillian Schroeder (she/her)

Lillian Schroeder

I am a junior at the University of Kansas majoring in Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology as well as Environmental Studies. I am interested in all things ecology and how they can be applied to restoration, conservation, and sustainability.

Dori Summers

Dori Summers
I am a senior studying Environmental Science at Haskell Indian Nations University. I am interested in restoration of land and water using both what I learn in my classes and the cultural knowledge of my people.

Martha Tryban

Martha TrybanI am a senior studying Environmental Science at Haskell Indian Nations University. I am interested in restoration of land and water using both what I learn in my classes and the cultural knowledge of my people.

Bever/Schultz Lab
Lab Alumni

Name University Affiliation Email
Aaron Baumgardner Catawba Indian Nation
Zoe Bedrosian University of Kansas
Luisa Garcia Haskell Indian Nations University
Anna Holm University of Kansas
Alice Tipton Saint Louis University alice.tipton at
Alisa Childress Environmental Studies
Alison Bennett Ohio State University bennett.1242 at
Anna Larimer Kansas State University larimera at
Anna Rosling Uppsala University anna.rosling at
Anne Hartley Florida Gulf Coast University ahartley at
Anne Pringle University of Wisconsin apringle2 at
Austin Yoder University of Kansas, Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology austinjyoder at
Bala Chaudhary Depaul University bala.chaudhary at
Baoming Ji Beijing Forestry University, China baomingji at
Brian Steidinger University of Konstanz bsteidi2 at
Camille Delavaux ETH Zurich camille.delavaux at
Caroline Angelard U Luassane caroline.angelard at
Chaoyuan Zheng FAFU, China zhengcy at
Collin Bruey KU University Honors Program cbruey at
Elise Morton Fairleigh Dickinson University elise_morton71 at
Elizabeth Middleton Indiana Department of Natural Resources elmiddleton82 at
Fei-Hai Yu Beijing Forestry University feihaiyu at
Geoffrey House NEON geo.house7 at
Grace Parker Biology, Pre-Vet graduate track
Guangzhou Wang Chinese Agricultural University (CAU) wang_guangzhou at
Hyun-Joo (Jamie) Kang Western University hkang at
Jacob Hopkins University of Kansas Jacob_Hopkins6 at
Janice Alers-Garcia EPA alers-garcia.janice at
Jeremiah Henning University of Minnesota jhenning at
Jessica Duchicela ESPE, Ecuador jiduchicela at
Jonathan Bauer Miami University jonathantbauer at
Joshua Schemanski Biochemistry, University of Kansas
Jun Yu Institute of Applied Ecology Chinese Academy of Sciences junyu at
Junling Zhang Chinese Agricultural University junlingz at
Katherine Zaiger zaigerk at
Keenan Mack Illinois College keenan.mack at
Keith Vogelsang Ivy Tech University kvogelsang at
Kelly Chesus Colorado State University kelly.chesus at
Kerri Crawford University of Houston kmcrawf3 at Central.UH.EDU
Kristen Mecke University of Tennessee
Kristi Westover Winthrop University westoverk at
Lidia Yoshida NSF lyoshida at
Liz Seifert lizseifert at
Marc Bogonovich OpenWords marc.bogonovich at
Min Tang Beijing Forestry University tangmin at
Olivia Childress Environmental Studies major at KU
Peter Zee University of Mississippi zee at
Rondy Malik Penn State University rjm472 at
Sam Campbell Stowers Institute for Medical Research
Sarah Richardson Depaul University sricha10 at
Scott Mangan Arkansas State University smangan at
Tanya Cheeke Washington State University tanya.cheeke at
Thomas Platt Kansas State University tgplatt at
Ursel Schuette University of Alaska uschuette at
Vanessa Beauchamp Towson U VBeauchamp at
Wendy Taheri TerraNimbus, LLC wendy.taheri at
Wittaya Kaonongbua KMUTT, Thailand wittaya.kao at
Zhen Wang Grassland Research Institute