Bill Hopkins


Dr. Hopkins is a Professor in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation in the College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech.  He is also the Director of the Global Change Center at Virginia Tech (The Fralin Life Science Institute).  He holds additional Adjunct Professor appointments with the University of Georgia’s Odum School of Ecology and the College of Pharmacy’s Interdisciplinary Toxicology Program where he is also a member of the UGA Graduate Faculty.

Dr. Hopkins’ research focuses on physiological ecology and wildlife ecotoxicology, addressing pressing questions in both basic and applied science. To date, he has published more than 165 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters on subjects pertaining to environmental stressors, pollution, and the physiological ecology of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and bats.  His work is heavily cited in the scientific literature and he frequently provides input on important environmental issues to the media (e.g., 60 minutes, NPR, etc.) and to decision makers in Richmond, VA and Washington D.C.


Silas Beers

Undergraduate Researcher

Silas is a sophomore at Virginia Tech majoring in Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech. He has worked at the Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary in Nelson County, VA, caring for song birds to gray foxes, and spent three weeks in Ecuador during a study abroad course with Dr. Hopkins in 2018. Silas’ research interests include behavioral ecology and human-wildlife interactions.


Margot Breiner

Undergraduate Researcher

Margot is a senior at Virginia Tech majoring in Wildlife Conservation. Prior to Tech, she spent many years in the Virginia wine industry where she worked as the general manager of a winery and vineyard and gained experience working in a lab. An avid lover of the outdoors, Margot completed the Virginia Master Naturalist Program in 2017 and an independent study in 2018 in the Wildlife Habitat and Population Analysis Lab.

Margot’s research interests include ecotoxicology and anthropogenic influences on wildlife physiology and development, wetland ecology, and herpetology.


Brian Case

Ph.D. Student

Brian is a PhD student in the Hopkins Lab.  His research interests broadly encompass the impacts of climate change, invasion, disease, and human development on the viability of natural systems and wildlife populations, especially herpetofauna.

For his thesis, Brian is continuing the lab’s efforts to better understand the physiology, behavior, and reproductive histories of Appalachia’s Eastern Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis), including examination of how regional land-use change and habitat quality may be linked to deleterious impacts upon the species’ health.

Henry Davie 1

Henry Davie

Research Technician

Henry is a junior at Virginia Tech majoring in Wildlife Conservation and Biological Sciences. He works in the Hopkins lab aiding the ongoing hellbender research.

Henry’s research interests include behavioral ecology, reproductive ecology and toxicology, primarily in birds and herps.


Jesse Fallon

Ph.D. Student

Jesse Fallon earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Penn State, a Master of Science degree from West Virginia University, and a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. Jesse has clinical and field experience with an array of bird species.

While Jesse’s research interests exist under the umbrella of conservation medicine, his current research focuses on the physiologic impact of hydrocarbon exposure on birds. By combining animal health expertise and sound ecological principles, Jesse aims to approach research questions with ecosystem health as a foundation.

joy flowers

Joy Flowers

Undergraduate Student

Joy is working towards a B.S. in Wildlife Conservation and a B.S. in Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech. When she is not working on academic work, she helps with various lab and field activities within the Hopkins lab. She also fulfills her role as President and Co-founder of the Wildlife Disease Association Student Chapter at Virginia Tech. Her primary research interests involve wildlife disease effects on physiological processes, microbiome health, and herpetological and chiroptera-based research


Emma Fralin

Research Technician

Emma Fralin graduated from Virginia Tech in 2020 with a B.S. in Biology, and is an aspiring veterinarian and researcher. In addition to wildlife conservation and veterinary medicine, Emma is interested in policy as a means of connecting research to public action. She is currently part of Hopkins’ research studying the enigmatic decline of North America’s largest salamander.

Jordy Groffen_th

Jordy Groffen

Research Associate

Jordy’s main focus lies in research on the ecology of herpetofauna, invasive species and parasites. He has worked all over the world and has developed a broad research interest. In the past he worked with crocodiles, frogs, salamanders, flying foxes, toads, snails and freshwater turtles.

In 2012, Jordy obtained two M.Sc. degrees in Animal Sciences, specializing in ethology, welfare and adaptation physiology (Wageningen University in the Netherlands and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences).


Schuyler van Montfrans

Program Support Tech – Educational Outreach and Diversity Specialist

Schuyler began his teaching career in 2012 – since then, he has taught a variety of science subjects (biology, ecology, AP Biology, marine science, physics, and chemistry) at both rural and urban schools in Lake City, FL, Decatur, GA, and Roanoke, VA. Here in the Hopkins lab, he’ll be leading the design of a place-based educational curriculum that integrates novel pedagogical approaches with “backyard” ecology and conservation experiences to inspire middle- and high school students across Appalachia to become lifelong stewards of their local natural environment.

rebecca o'brien photo web sq

Rebecca O’Brien

Ph.D. Student

Becca joined the Hopkins lab in the summer of 2018 as a PhD student studying the social and ecological aspects of conservation. Specifically, her research focuses on the effect that engaging landowners in her ecological research has on their attitudes and opinions regarding science, conservation, and her subject of study: the eastern hellbender. Becca’s ecological research focuses on hellbender reproductive behavior with a particular emphasis on paternal care. Becca is also a fellow in the Interfaces of Global Change Program.

A Patels square

Ajay Patel

Research Technician

Ajay joined the Hopkins Lab in August 2021 and conducts field and laboratory work relating to the Eastern Hellbender.

Ajay graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Zoology in December of 2020, and brings diverse experience having previously worked as a data analyst, with fishes in Thailand, and with birds on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.


Alyssa Selhorst

Undergraduate Researcher

Alyssa is a sophomore at VT majoring in Biological Sciences with an emphasis on Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, and a minor in Statistics. She is currently working in the Hopkins Lab assisting Ph.D. student Sydney Hope with her project on incubation temperature in wood ducks.

Alyssa’s interests include freshwater and marine ecology, animal behavior, and understanding human-wildlife interactions for informed conservation.

Slack, Katey_Sq2

Katey Slack

M.S. Student

Katey joined the Hopkins lab as a MS student in the summer 2020. She completed her undergraduate degree at Mississippi State University where she studied Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture Science and received a minor in Geospatial and Remote Sensing Technology. Katey is interested in the physiological mechanisms that aid in the survival of herpetofauna species and how they respond to anthropogenic factors like climate change. Her research is focused on the red blood cell mobilization associated with the fight-or-flight response in the Eastern Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) and how it is influenced by pathogens, season, environmental quality, and behavior.