The HEDGE lab has just moved to Vermont! We are excited to welcome new members and explore new research directions.

Alexis M. Mychajliw

Principal Investigator

Alexis is an Assistant Professor of Biology & Environmental Studies at Middlebury College. She is also a Research Associate at the La Brea Tar Pits, part of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, and a Research Associate at the National Museum of Natural History, part of the Smithsonian Institution. She received her BS from Cornell University in 2012 and PhD from Stanford University in 2017. She was formerly a postdoctoral researcher at Hokkaido University in Japan and the University of Oklahoma. Her research is at the intersection of conservation biology, paleontology, and ecology. Learn more about her here.

Email: amychajliw[@], CV: click here for a copy of her CV

Drew An-Pham

Undergraduate Researcher, Middlebury College

Drew (’23) is an Environmental Studies and Geography Major at Middlebury College. He is originally from Houston, TX, and in his free time enjoys rowing, listening to podcasts/public radio, cooking with friends, and trying every creemee and gourmet hot dog he can get his hands on in Vermont.

Drew is currently doing freelance GIS/Cartography and starting a research project pertaining to mapping either coral or oysters for his senior work..

Elizabeth Austin

Undergraduate Researcher, Middlebury College

Elizabeth (’24) studies Environmental Science and Earth & Climate Science at Middlebury College. She is from Memphis, TN, and enjoys playing rugby, cooking, crafts, and getting outside.

Elizabeth is currently working on data from packrat middens in Southern California and participated in an international literature review about conservation paleobiology. She was recently a summer intern at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History through the lab’s NSF furbearing mammals project.

Valentina Hogenhuis

Undergraduate Researcher, Middlebury College & Fairbanks Museum, St. Johnsbury

Valentina (’22.5) is an Environmental Policy major and Italian minor at Middlebury College. She is from San Francisco, CA, and in her free time enjoys skiing, playing the flute, knitting, and going to swimming holes. She is currently working with the Fairbanks Museum to digitize, analyze, and interpret their collection of over 700 first bloom and fruit dates for wildflowers.

Ellie Kroger

Undergraduate Researcher, Middlebury College

Ellie (‘22.5) is majoring in Conservation Biology with a minor in Spanish. She is from Oakland, CA and in her free time enjoys scuba diving, backpacking, birding, and surfing.

Ellie studies coral nurseries and environmental monitoring techniques in Tobago as a cross-cultural community engagement intern with Lanya Fanovich, Dr. Ryan Mohammed, and the Environmental Research Institute Charlotteville.

Sylvie Lyu

Natural History Collections Intern, Middlebury College

Sylvie (’24) studies Biology and Studio Art at Middlebury College. She is from Beijing, China, and in her free time she enjoys drawing, writing short stories and poems. She is currently working on organizing, digitizing and presenting the various plant and animal specimen the college curates, including documenting heavy metal contamination using XRF and ICP-MS techniques.

Amanda Manoogian

Undergraduate Researcher, Middlebury College

Amanda (‘23.5) is an Environmental Studies-Earth and Climate Science joint major with a minor in English. She is from Washington, DC, and she enjoys yoga, skiing, reading, and drawing in her free time. Amanda is currently working on her senior thesis, analyzing sediments from the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, CA.

Jess Mulder

Human-Wildlife Coexistence Intern, Middlebury College

Jess (‘22.5) is a Biology major with minors in Psychology and Studio Art. She is a member of the Middlebury College Snow Bowl Ski Patrol and in her free time she loves to make play volleyball and make focaccia bread. The most important part of her 5 year plan is adopting a wiener dog named Pickle. She will be working with the Middlebury Area Land Trust (MALT) and other local landowners to monitor beaver populations and support coexistence.

Olivia Olson

NSF Post-baccalaureate Researcher, Middlebury College

Olivia (‘21.5) studied Biology and German at Middlebury College. She enjoys writing songs and has published several short stories in student-led art journals. She is from Islesboro, Maine.

Olivia wrote her thesis on the sea mink using morphology and local ecological knowledge of Mai. She is continuing this research as a post-bac researcher/ lab tech in the HEDGE lab!

Lucia Snyderman

Undergraduate Researcher, Middlebury College

Lucia (‘23.5) is majoring in Biology with a minor in Italian. She is from Pittsburgh, PA and in her free time enjoys hiking, playing tennis, reading, and writing poems. Lucia is thrilled to join the HEDGE lab, gain some fossil fieldwork experience, and learn more about Maine seabirds like the Great Auk during the Holocene!


Lab mascot

Gus is a blind African pygmy hedgehog. His interests include mealworms, bananas, and running on his wheel. Gus does not have an email address or CV.

Much of our research takes place off campus.

Below are some collaborators whose expertise in the field make our research and community engagement possible.

Collaborators in Field Work

Juan Natanahel Almonte

Collections Manager, Museo Nacional de Historia Natural “Prof. Eugenio de Jesús Marcano”

Sr. Almonte is the paleontology collections manager at the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural “Prof. Eugenio de Jesús Marcano” in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic). He has more than 20 years of field experience and actually taught Alexis how to excavate in caves! He works closely with the conservation group Grupo Jaragua and uses his discoveries of new fossil species to highlight the incredible biodiversity heritage of the Dominican Republic and the importance of local community involvement in scientific research today. He shares these discoveries through media such as a tv show, GeoVida, and museum outreach. Research Gate

Sean Campbell

Preparator, La Brea Tar Pits & Museum

Sean is a staff member at the La Brea Tar Pits and is currently excavating fossil deposits as part of Project 23, a series of asphaltic deposits uncovered during construction of a parking garage. Sean has been painstakingly excavating some material for a collaborative project with the museum using a different technique to avoid chemical contamination of biomolecules… stay tuned…!

Ryan Mohammed

PhD, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine

Ryan is an aquatic ecologist and broadly interested in documenting and protecting the biodiversity of Trinidad and Tobago, including its fossil record. He is a Co-PI on our National Geographic grant. He was formerly the interim curator of the UWI Zoology Museum, where he facilitated the accessioning of “tar pit” fossils. He is on the board of the Environmental Research Institute Charlotteville (Tobago) and the President of the Aquaculture Association of Trinidad and Tobago. He also works with the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago and has assisted in Environmental Impact Assessments and UNESCO proposals. Google Scholar

Karin Rice

Preparator, La Brea Tar Pits & Museum

Karin has a background in geology from CSU Long Beach. She is an active collaborator on asphalt seep projects in California and Trinidad centered at the La Brea Tar Pits, and spearheads sediment grain size analysis for insight into the deposition and preservation of Late Pleistocene fossils (ie, taphonomy). Karin has also served as a high school student mentor for our science fair program with the Girls Academic Leadership Academy of Los Angeles. She is currently working on sediment analysis for our packrat midden project. Google Scholar

Laura Tewksbury

Preparator, La Brea Tar Pits & Museum

Laura has been excavating asphaltic fossils for more than 10 years! She is an active collaborator on our packrat midden project centered at the La Brea Tar Pits, and has measured literally hundreds of tiny rodent coprolites. She is leading our efforts to sort plant material from the midden to better understand what Los Angeles looked like 50,000 years ago. Laura is also a talented science communicator and is our go-to resource for thinking about how to share our research with the general public, given her years of experience interacting with museum guests in a megacity!

Lab Alumni

Jack Cornish (’22) Environmental Studies – Biology

Jack studied beaver populations on college owned land and assessed potential impacts to human structures and activities that the beavers may pose.

Ezra Flint (’22) Environmental Studies – Geology

Ezra wrote a thesis about the sediments at the La Brea Tar Pits and other tar pits worldwide.

Audrey Hsi (’22) Biology & Anthropology

Audrey studied archaeological and modern beavers in Vermont. She is now a graduate student at Stanford University in Anthropology.

Andrew Ng (’22) Biology & Economics

Andrew developed a camera trapping and drone protocol for beaver monitoring and helped install a Beaver Deceiver device for the campus storm drain pond.

Emma Norton (’22) Molecular Biology & Biochemistry

Emma studied environmental DNA from soils in comparison with camera trap images of mammals.

Maggie Swanson (‘22.5) Environmental Studies – Biology

Maggie assisted in compiling extinctions that have taken place on island systems throughout the world during the Holocene. She was an intern with the Environmental Research Institute Charlotteville.

Stanford University: Lauren Gibson

Lauren completed her undergraduate honors thesis at Stanford University on the impacts of climate change on the Hispaniolan Solenodon while Alexis was a PhD student. She published her thesis in Conservation Biology. She is now pursuing a PhD in environmental education after a NOAA fellowship. You can learn more here.

Stanford University: Laura Cussen

Laura completed her undergraduate honors thesis at Stanford University on the range of bite force exerted by insectivorous mammals as a proxy for understanding the diet of extinct Caribbean island shrews. She now works in the Protected Areas Department of the Chilean Ministry of the Environment.

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