Current Team

Principal Investigator


Rebecca Montgomery

Associate professor

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Forest Resources at the University of Minnesota. I did my bachelor’s in Biology at Occidental College, my Ph.D. in Ecology at the University of Connecticut and a post-doc at University of Wisconsin-Madison. My research interests include forest ecology, plant functional ecology and global change. I have worked in tropical, temperate, and boreal ecosystems. My research has allowed me to travel the globe, highlights of which include: trading flashlights and fishing line for bows and arrows in the Western Amazon, crossing the channel between Molokai and Oahu in an outrigger canoe and harrowing landings on mountain airstrips in Papua New Guinea. 




Erica Houser

Lab Manager

I graduated from the Plant and Microbial Biology Department in May 2023 and joined the Montgomery lab as field tech and lab manager. I am interested in forest ecology, plant-microbe interactions, and how math and computing can be applied to answer biological questions. I am originally from the Black Hills of South Dakota, and in my free time I enjoy drawing plants and fungi, biking, and learning sick skateboard tricks (or just falling a lot).



Claudia Nanninga


I am interested in the impact of global climate change on temperate and boreal forest ecosystems, especially how altered temperature regimes will impact southern and northern range limits. My PhD researched focused on the impact of temperature on the phenology of trees. I am also passionate about ecosystem restoration. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, downhill skiing, and hanging out with my kids and dogs.



Thomas Stevens

Postdoctoral Associate

I am an applied ecologist interested in the impacts of human activity on wildlife communities. I have investigated the indirect impacts of wind energy on grassland bird communities, urbanization in the surrounding matrix on bird communities, roads and urbanization on dispersal and gene flow in small mammals, and forest thinning practices on bird communities. I am currently examining the impact of controlled burns on vegetation and wildlife communities in Minnesota's shrub-carr wetlands. This project is a collaboration with the MN Dept of Natural Resources and is specifically interested in how the season in which controlled burns occur impacts natural communities. Although I have worked with a variety of taxa, my expertise and passion are in birds, which I have been observing and pursuing my entire life. 



Graduate Students


Erin Clark

Graduate Student

I received my masters at the University of Maine studying growth and mortality in old growth forests. I joined the Montgomery lab in Fall 2023 after working in the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center's Biogeochemistry Lab. Co-advised by Rob Slesak, I am now studying the ecological impacts of invasive emerald ash borer on black ash dominated wetlands of northern Minnesota. When I am not traipsing through the forest, I love gardening and eating pizza. 



Catherine Glenn-Stone

Graduate Student

I am currently a graduate student in the Natural Resources Science and Management program at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, co-advised by Dr. Rebecca Montgomery and Dr. Marcella Windmuller-Campione. My graduate research focuses on assessing the physiological responses of trees in floodplain forests impacted by emerald ash borer, Dutch elm disease, and a changing climate to inform future forest management practices.



Emma Smoll

Graduate Student

I got my BA in biology from Willamette University in 2020. I am currently pursuing my MS and investigating the effects of abiotic environmental factors on seedling regeneration in Upper Mississippi River floodplain forests. I love to be in the woods and am probably knitting right now. 



Anna Yang

Graduate Student

My research focuses on the management and long-term impacts of forest diseases in the Lake States. I hold a M.S. in Plant Pathology and am particularly interested in how oak wilt, a devastating disease on oaks, influences forest succession and affects oak regeneration. One of the things that I love about my research is that the scale varies from DNA all the way to whole forests. I spend most of my spare time wrangling my kids, but I also love to read and cook when I find the time.