Holly joined the Hopkins lab as a master’s student in August of 2021 with an interest in studying how global change factors like deforestation and climate change affect vulnerable species. To reach her research goals, Holly is studying how these global changes may negatively impact eastern hellbender reproduction. Due to their life history and recent declines, hellbenders are a model species for investigating how deforestation and climate change may negatively impact water quality, egg viability, and hellbender parental care decisions.
Holly received her bachelor’s degree from the College of William & Mary in 2019 with a double major in Biology and Environmental Science & Policy. While at William & Mary, Holly studied diamondback terrapin conservation. She conducted two projects on terrapin by-catch in commercial crab pots and studied methods to dramatically decrease accidental terrapin drowning deaths. Holly then conducted an honors thesis on mapping current diamondback terrapin nesting habitat and how their habitat range may shrink with projected sea level rise.
After undergrad, Holly worked as an environmental educator at Echo Hill Outdoor School in Maryland. At the outdoor school, Holly gained an appreciation for conservation outreach and education. She then went on to work for a conservation crew in Louisiana that focused on hurricane environmental restoration and prescribed burning. Both experiences emphasized the importance of conservation research and practices. They instilled a desire in her to continue her studies at Virginia Tech and study how vulnerable species may be impacted by rapid global change.