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Bill Hopkins

Professor

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.

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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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Elizabeth Davis

Undergraduate Researcher

Elizabeth is an undergraduate student majoring in the Geosciences with a focus on Geobiology and a minor in Biology. After undergraduate, she hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in marine biology. She joined the Hopkins lab in the winter of 2021 and has since assisted on various projects studying the eastern hellbender salamander.

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Holly Funkhouser

M.S. Student

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. 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. After undergrad, Holly worked as an environmental educator at Echo Hill Outdoor School in Maryland. She then went on to work for a conservation crew in Louisiana that focused on hurricane environmental restoration and prescribed burning.

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Justus Hargett

Research Technician

Justus joined the Hopkins lab as a post-baccalaureate researcher and technician in November 2021. His research interests are largely in the effects of anthropogenic stressors on freshwater interactions. His research focuses on predator-prey associations between the local crayfish community and eastern hellbender density and reproduction as well as how this relationship may vary with reduced forest cover. He completed his B.Sc. in Biology with a concentration in Environmental, Ecology, and Evolutionary biology at Appalachian State University. After completing his undergraduate studies, Justus worked as a Conservation and Land Management intern for the USFWS of Klamath Falls in Southeastern Oregon, where he assisted conservation projects with threatened and endangered fish and mussels, habitat assessments, and stream restoration.

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Austin Holloway

Undergraduate Research Technician

Born and raised in the small town of Abingdon in Southwest Virginia, Austin developed a passion for many things outdoors. His current research interests include working in habitat management and restoration with private landowners to meet the landowner’s goals and needs while minimizing impacts on the environment and surrounding ecosystems. He also enjoys working on projects involving small mammals, herpetofauna, and forestry.  Austin obtained his Associate’s degree from the Virginia Highlands Community College where he worked as a Research Assistant studying three species of salamanders in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee. He then transferred to Virginia Tech and is majoring in Wildlife Conservation with a minor in Forestry. Among the many projects he’s dived into since arriving at Virginia Tech, Austin began volunteering in the Hopkins lab assisting in video analysis in the spring of 2021. In the summer of 2022, Austin became the lead field crew technician for the lab; where he helped organize and lead the field team. 

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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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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.

HOPKINS LAB ALUMNI