John Hallagan is the lab manager for the Hopkins lab. He is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University (B.S. Biology) and has been actively involved in wildlife research for 9 years.
In his current role, John assists graduate students and postdoctoral associates with designing and conducting their experiments, and oversees operations in the lab and research aviary. In the spring he is usually in the beautiful bays of South Carolina, where he monitors over 90 wood duck boxes, traps adult hens, and collects eggs. He then brings those eggs back to Virginia Tech where he helps hatch them, and performs behavioral trials on the ducklings. In the summer, he is usually in the river working with either snapping turtles or hellbenders. John is responsible for monitoring and maintaining nearly 400 artificial hellbender nest boxes that he helped design, construct, and install. In late summer and early fall John is busy locating and processing hellbender nests, and collecting blood samples from nesting males.
In 2011 and 2012, John worked for Dr. Michelle Beck, studying the potential effects of the 2008 Kingston coal ash spill on the reproductive behavior and physiology of adult and nestling tree swallows. As the lead bird technician, he helped train and manage a large field crew. In the off-season he worked in the lab hatching turtle eggs and doing sample preparation.
Before coming to Virginia Tech, John worked as an intern on a 2008 research project in Saskatchewan studying the effects of nest bowl temperature on the development of tree swallow nestlings. John’s second field season in 2009 was through the University of Missouri. This project focused on resource selection and habitat use by female Indiana bats during the maternity season using acoustic surveys and radio telemetry. In the spring and summer of 2010 John worked in North Dakota and South Dakota on a research project through Ducks Unlimited and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The objective of this project was to study the effects that wind farms may have on the nesting location and survival of waterfowl in the Prairie Pothole Region.
In his free time, John hikes in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains surrounding Blacksburg, and spends time floating and fishing on the New River. Lately, he has developed a keen interest in woodworking, wood carving, and wood burning.