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

Elizabeth Austin

Undergraduate Researcher, Middlebury College

Elizabeth (’24) is joint majoring in Environmental Science and Geology 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 participating in an international literature review about conservation paleobiology.

Jack Cornish

Undergraduate Researcher, Middlebury College

Jack (’22) studies Conservation Biology and minors in math. He is from Jackson, WY and loves to spend time outside hunting, fishing, and skiing.

This semester, Jack is studying beaver populations on college owned land and assessing potential impacts to human structures and activities that the beavers may pose.

Ezra Flint

Undergraduate Researcher, Middlebury College

Ezra is a senior pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies and Geology. He is writing a thesis about the sediments at the La Brea Tar Pits. In his free time, he adventures outdoors.

Audrey Hsi

Undergraduate Researcher, Middlebury College

Audrey (’22) studies Biology and Anthropology at Middlebury College. She is a swimmer and is happiest when near a body of water. She is from Basking Ridge, New Jersey.

Audrey is currently assisting with our North American fur trade project and studying beaver baselines in Vermont through a combination of archaeological and genetic data.

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 is looking forward to studying coral nurseries in Tobago as a cross-cultural community engagement intern with the Environmental Research Institute Charlotteville.

Sylvie Lyu

MuseumWorks 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 an intern at the Natural History Collection of the Biology Department, working on organizing, digitizing and presenting the various plant and animal specimen the college owns.

Andrew Ng

Undergraduate Researcher, Middlebury College

Andrew (’22) is in his last semester at Middlebury and majoring in Biology and Economics. He grew up in Seattle, Washington but plan on staying in the North East post graduation. He plays lacrosse. He currently has a cat named Blazer who his family is obsessed with – we got him at a shelter (the only pet they’ve had).

Andrew is currently studying the beavers that have taken up residence on Middlebury campus and their impacts on the storm drain pond.

Emma Norton

Undergraduate Researcher, Middlebury College

Emma (‘22) studies Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Middlebury College. She is an active hiker, rocker climber, skier, and yoga instructor. She is from Kingston, NH. 

Emma is currently studying environmental DNA (eDNA) in comparison to camera trap data for mammals in Vermont.

Olivia Olson

Post-bac 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. She is containing this research as a post-bac researcher/ lab tech in the HEDGE lab!

Maggie Swanson

Undergraduate Researcher, Middlebury College

Maggie Swanson (’22.5) studies conservation biology, with a minor in computer science. She is excited to work on a project compiling extinctions that have taken place on island systems throughout the world during the Holocene. Beyond school, Maggie is an animal lover and enjoys spending time outside.


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

Below are some of the students we have worked with. We are so proud of their exciting research and work in conservation and policy!

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.

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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