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Jonathan (Jonno) Morris

Ph.D. Student

(2018 - Present)

I study the community ecology and management of natural pest control in agroecosystems. My research is driven primarily by two questions: First, how do complex communities of natural enemies regulate pests? Second, how does agricultural management impact that ecology? I have investigated these questions primarily by chasing around ants in the coffee farms of southern Mexico. I also use ecological theory to model pest control community dynamics with the aim of understanding how more realistic levels of diversity, interaction complexity, and spatial components of the agricultural landscape impact pest control function. Beyond research, I find joy in exploring the scientific wonder of the cosmos and sharing this wonder with others through teaching and outreach. I also struggle to advocate for environmental and social justice but sometimes get distracted by the good food and drink in Ann Arbor and Mexico.

Keywords: Community ecology, natural pest control, ecological networks, biodiversity, coffee, Mexico

M.S. in Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan (2016)
B.S. in Environmental Science, University of Florida (2010)

Iris Saraeny Rivera Salinas

Ph.D. Student

(2019 - Present)

I am broadly interested in complex ecological interactions that maintain diversity in agroecosystems such as trait-mediated indirect interactions (TMII’s), mutualisms and keystone species. My research is conducted in coffee agroecosystems in Mexico and Puerto Rico where these types of ecological interactions are embedded in complex networks of community interactions. For my Ph.D., I plan to develop a series of projects that explore the role of TMII’s in permitting coexistence of species and in the biological control of pests of coffee. Outside of research, I enjoy going to the movies, dancing and trying new places to eat in Ann Arbor.

Keywords: TMII’s, agroecosystems, diversity, agroecology, Mexico, Puerto Rico, ants, coffee

M.S. in Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan (2019)
B.S. in Engineering of Agroecology, Universidad Autónoma Chapingo (2015)

Ylexia Padilla

M.S. Student

(2021 - Present)

My research interests align at the intersection of ecological and social science to bridge the gap between science and communities. Broadly I am interested in climate adaptation and mitigation strategies, sustainable agriculture, climate equity and conservation ecology. My research is focused within the tropical dry forest of Ecuador examining the relationships between agroecosystems, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable livelihoods of local farmers. Outside of research, I enjoy camping, hammocking at the beach, and trying new ice cream shops!

Keywords: sustainable agriculture, biodiversity, conservation, environmental justice, agroecosystems, Ecuador, climate adaptation

B.A. in Sustainability, minors in Anthropology and Spanish, San Diego State University (2020)

Caitlin Vigneau

M.S. Student

(2021 - Present)

I am interested in avian conservation within agricultural systems as well as the social impacts of wildlife management decisions. For my master’s thesis I am researching avian nest success within shade and sun coffee plantations in Chiapas, Mexico. Before joining the Perfecto Lab, I worked seasonally in both environmental education and as an avian field technician for several conservation projects. Beyond academia, I enjoy camping, exploring new parks, and playing videogames.

Keywords: Avian Conservation, Wildlife Management, Agroecosystems, Avian Ecosystem Services

B.S. in Biology, Virginia Commonwealth University (2017)
A.S in Social Sciences, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College (2011)

Megan Gross

M.S. Student

(2022 - Present)

I study environmental justice, using agroecosystems as a cipher to understand relationships and power in the socio-natural world. Therefore, I am foremost engaged with the constructions of agroecology as a practice and as a movement (which are deeply informed by agroecology as a science). Inspired by the peasant-to-peasant methodologies of Mesoamerican resistance and transnational movements such as la Via Campesina, my research explores the linkages between emancipatory agroecology, land justice, and food sovereignty for campesino communities, primarily in my ancestral homeland of Mexico, as well as in Puerto Rico. Recently, I have been preoccupied with the following questions: How do the social and ecological processes within agroecology play into relationships with land? Specifically, in the colonized territory of Puerto Rico, how do agroecological peasant farmers develop relationships with land and how can these methods cultivate collective capacity to resist climate change, colonization, and external economic dependence? While these questions are always top of mind, I try to make time to doodle, cook meals for friends, and talk to strangers.

Keywords: agroecology, food sovereignty, land justice, political ecology, Puerto Rico, Mexico

B.A. in Communications and Hispanic Studies, University of Pennsylvania (2016)

Nayethzi Hernandez

M.S. Student

(2022 - Present)

I am interested in understanding the social, cultural, and ecological benefits yielded to farming communities who implement agroecological techniques. More broadly, I am interested in how agroecology can progress food sovereignty. My research presently looks towards coffee farming in Puerto Rico for insights on food security. Prior to joining the Perfecto lab my work centered on food security in Salt Lake City, Utah and environmental education in central Mexico.

Outside of research, I enjoy going on long walks with my dog, writing postcards to my friends, and trying new foods!

Keywords: agroecology, food security, food systems, Puerto Rico

B.S in Business Management, University of Utah (2019)

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