Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Logo
Apply to SIUE


Dr. Peter Minchin

People

Peter Minchin, Ph.D.

Professor

I received my B.Sc. with 1st class Honours in Botany from the University of Tasmania in 1976 and my Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of Tasmania in 1984. After various research and teaching positions in Australia and the USA, I joined the Department of Biological Sciences at SIUE in 2004 and was promoted to Professor in 2016. I am Chair of the North American Section and Vice President for Publications on the Governing Board of the International Association for Vegetation Science (IAVS) and an Associate Editor of the journal Plant Ecology. My main research interest is the development and evaluation of multivariate statistical methods for analyzing ecological communities and the application of these methods to the conservation and restoration of communities. I teach undergraduate and grauate courses in general biology, ecology, conservation biology, biostatistics, wildlife and vegetation techniques, and travel study in biology. In addition, I advise undergraduate and graduate students who undertake research projects through my lab. Most student research is in the area of conservation biology or restoration ecology and involves a combination of field-based observations or experiments and data analysis or modeling in the lab. More mathematically inclined students may undertake projects in the development and evaluation of methods for community analysis.

If you are interested in opportunities for undergraduate or graduate research in my lab, please contact me.

Photo of Dr. Peter Minchin

Chris Featherstone, B.S.

Graduate Student

Chris joined the lab as an undergraduate in fall 2015 and conducted a Senior Assignment research project that investigated variation in community composition with topography in Whiteside Prairie, which is within the SIUE Nature Preserve. His research was part of an ongoing effort to document the biodiversity of the nature preserve and obtain baseline data for management. Chris presented his results as a poster at the annual conference of the Illinois State Academy of Sciences and completed his B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Ecology, Evolution, and Environment in spring 2017. He started as a graduate student in fall 2017 and is currently developing a project. He hopes to find a career with in the field of conservation or natural resource management.

Photo of Chris Featherstone

Zak French, B.S.

Graduate Student

Zak first joined the lab in spring 2009. He submitted a research proposal on edge effects in fragmented oak-hickory forest and was accepted into the Undergraduate Research Academy (now known as the URCA Associate Program). The project extended from summer 2009 through spring 2010, culminating in presentations at the URA Sympsium and a poster at the Illinois State Academy of Science conference that won first prize in the Botany section. Zak then undertook a Senior Assignment project joinly supervised by Drs. Minchin and Essner, in which he compared habitat use and foraging behavior by two species of woodpeckers.

Zak graduated with his B.S. in fall 2010 and commenced a Master's in the lab in spring 2011, utlilizing the network of plots throughout Bluebell Woods and Sweet William Woods on campus and Bohm Woods State Nature Preserve to collect point count data on birds and vegetation structure data with the intention of fitting multivariate habitat models. Zak's graduate studies were interrupted by a tour of duty with the U.S. Air Force, after which he was accepted for a position in the Illinois Conservation Police. Zak has been deployed to Madison County and in his spare time is now working on completing his data analyses and writing up his Master's thesis. He hopes to defend his thesis and graduate with his M.S. in spring 2017.

Photo of Zak French

Miles Gossett, B.S.

Graduate Student

Miles joined the lab as an undergraduate in fall 2015 and conducted a Senior Assignment research project that assessed changes in the mesic upland forest community in Bohm Woods State Nature Preserve over the past 40 years.  The site was originally surveyed as part of the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory in 1977.  Miles resampled the tree and shrub layers using the same methodology and tested for changes in the dominance and density of woody species.  He found an increase in abundance of shade-tolerant sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and an increase in abundance of the exotic shrub, bush honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii). Red oak (Quercus rubra) and White ash (Fraxinus americana) have declined. Miles presented his results as a poster at the annual conference of the Illinois State Academy of Sciences and completed his B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Ecology, Evolution, and Environment in spring 2017. He started as a graduate student in fall 2017 and is currently developing a project. He hopes to find a career with in the field of ecology that will allow him to travel and do field work.

Photo of Miles Gossett

Jacob Kaiser, B.S.

Graduate Student

Jacob attended Truman State University for his B.S. degree and focused on wildlife biology courses. He has conducted research in the Everglades on Ospreys, measuring the effects of biotic and abiotic factors on their foraging success, and in Central America on estimating species diversity of medium and large mammals in different forest types. The Central America research was presented at the Midwest Ecology and Evolution Conference at Indiana University in Spring 2015. Jacob has also traveled to South Africa to learn how to manage and conserve large African mammals. His research interests include the ecology of medium and large mammals, especially carnivores, and how their ecology can be used in their conservation. Jacob joined the lab in spring 2016 and commenced Master's research that uses wildlife cameras to estimate the populations of coyotes, mesopredators (e.g., raccoon, opossum, bob cat) and their likely prey species (birds and small mammals) and looks for evidence of mesopredator release. After obtaining his Master's, Jacob plans on studying for a PhD and then becoming a wildlife biologist focusing on carnivore ecology and conservation, particularly the factors that effect mammal species diversity.

Portrait of Jacob Kaiser

Kassie Karssen, B.S.

Graduate Student

Kassie graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from Western Illinois University in fall 2015. In summer 2016 she accepted a Pathways appointment that will jump start her career as a Wildlife Biologist with the US Fish & Wildlife Service. She joined the lab in summer 2016 and participated in a travel study to the northern Rocky Mountains, led by Drs. Minchin and Essner. Kassie is conducting a research project that compares the habitat use and condition of "headstart" box turtles with wild born individuals.

Portrait of Kassie Karssen

Dillan Laaker, B.S.

Graduate Student

Dillan graduated from Vanderbilt University in spring 2016 with his B.S. in Ecology, Evolutionary, and Organismal Biology (EEOB). As an undergraduate, Dillan interned at TreeHouse Wildlife Rehab Center and completed a summer research project on American chestnuts with the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC). Dillan Joined the lab in fall 2016. He currently works in the forestry division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) at the Rivers Project Office in West Alton, MO. Through a partnership with the USACE and The Audubon Center at Riverlands, Dillan's project combines long-term avian monitoring data with forest inventory data and explores migratory bird usage of bottomland hardwood forests along the Upper Mississippi River. When not at work or school, Dillan enjoys hunting, fishing, and traveling.

Portrait of Dillan Laaker
facebookoff twitteroff vineoff linkedinoff flickeroff instagramoff googleplusoff tumblroff socialoff