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 Sciences 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.


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.