Past lab members

Past visiting scholars
(In reverse chronological order)


Zoe Hughes. Zoe got her Ph.D. at Southhampton University in 2003. We've collaborated with her and Duncan FitzGerald on the ecogeomorphology of coastal wetlands. She worked out of my laboratory for several years while residing in Houston. 

Shanze Li. Shanze is a PhD student at Beijing Normal University, China. She was a visiting scholar in my lab from 2014 to 2016. She wrote three papers, two of which have been published in Ecosphere, and one of which we're working on.

Zhongzheng Yan. Zhongzheng is on the facuty of East China Normal University in China. He visited our laboratory for a year in 2015-2016, and helped us continue our research program in mangrove ecology.

Yihui ZhangYihui is on the faculty of Xiamen University in China.  He visited our laboratory for a year in 2009-2010, and helped us begin a research program on mangrove ecology. Yihui has published some great papers on mangrove and salt marsh ecology in Ecology and the Journal of Ecology.

Past postdocs/Research professors
(In reverse chronological order)


Angela Laws. Angela got her Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame in 2007, did a postdoc at Kansas State from 2007 to 2012, and worked as Assistant Director of the University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Center-West from 2013 to 2015. She worked in the Pennings lab studying the effects of micronutrients on plant and grasshopper communities, and the effects of grasshopper diversity on plant communities. She started a position with the Xerxes Society in 2018.

Kazimierz Wieski. Kazik got his Ph.D. from the Agric. University of Szczecin in 1999. He worked in my lab as a postdoc for a number of years studying salt marsh ecology. He's currently working for a consulting company in Austin, TX.

Christopher Gabler. Chris got his PhD from Rice University in 2012, worked in my lab for a few years with funding from UH and from USGS, and now is a faculty member at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. He's done a lot of work on community development and reinvasion pressure during restoration of grasslands, and is also interested in climate effects on coastal salt marshes.

You can see his faculty profile here.


Hongyu Guo, PhD from UH in 2011. After finishing his PhD, Hongyu worked in my lab for a few years, with support from Texas Sea Grant, studying the causes and consequences of mangrove expansion on the Texas coast. He now has a faculty position in China.

Chelse Prather, PhD from Notre Dame in 2010. Chelse worked in my lab from 2011 to 2014 on the factors that structure grasshopper communities in prairies. She then took an Assistant Professor position at Radford University in 2014. She is now at the University of Dayton. Her personal website is here.

Laurie Marczak, PhD from UBC in 2007. Laurie worked in my lab from 2008 to 2010 on latitudinal gradients in bottom-up versus top-down control of salt marsh food webs. She then took a faculty position in the Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Sciences at the University of Montana. In 2013 she took a position as a Senior Ecologist with R2 Resource Consultants in Redmond WA. Her postdoc work has been published in Ecology and Journal of Ecology.

Past graduate students
(In reverse chronological order)


Fan Li, PhD, 2017. Fan worked on the effects of saline intrusion into tidal fresh wetlands at the GCE-LTER site in Georgia. She is now working in China. Her manuscripts are currently under review at various journals.

Wei-Ting Lin, PhD, 2017. Wei-Ting worked on how spatial and temporal scale affects our understanding of ecological interactions. Her manuscripts are currently under review at various journals.

Huy Vu, PhD, 2016. Huy worked on reciprocal feedbacks between crabs and headward-eroding creeks at the GCE-LTER site in Georgia. His first manuscript was published in Ecology, and second in Ecosphere, with more to come.

Hongyu Guo, PhD, 2011.  Hongyu (shown in the field in Georgia) worked on plant community structure at the GCE-LTER site in Georgia.  Manuscripts from his dissertation have been published in Ecology, Oikos and Oecologia.  He continued working in our laboratory as a postdoc for a few more years, looking at mechanisms and consequences of mangrove invasion of the Texas coast.

Brittany McCall, MS, 2011.  Brittany (show operating suction sampler in the field with Brittany DeLong, who has since also earned her PhD) worked on geographic variation in salt marsh arthropod communities (published in Oecologia), and on the impacts of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill on saltmarsh arthropods (published in PLoS ONE and BioScience). She worked for the Oklahoma water board and now resides in Texas.

Emily Marquardt, PhD, 2009.  Emily (show in the field with Chuan-Kai) worked on parasitic plants in TX marshes.  Her PhD work was published in Oecologia and Plant Ecology.  She now resides in Seattle.

Alana Lynes, MS, 2008.  Alana won the Graduate Teaching Assistant Award in 2008, taught introductory biology as a lecturer at the University of Houston, and worked as a consultant in Houston. She worked as an Environmental Planner for Tera Environmental Consultants in Calgary, Canada, and worked as a volunteer with Cuso International in Laos where she was an Environmental Advisor on sustainable agriculture development projects in rural villages.

Juan Jimenez, PhD, 2008.  Juan joined my lab mid-way through his PhD career, switching from coral reef work to salt marshes. A paper from Juan's PhD work was published in Estuaries and Coasts. Juan is working as a high school teacher in Houston.  

Chuan-Kai Ho, PhD, 2008.  Chuan-Kai did a postdoc with Anna Armitage at Texas A&M Galveston, and now has a faculty position in Taiwan. His PhD work on salt marsh food webs was published in Ecology, Oecologia, the American Naturalist, and PLoS One.

Lisa Iwahara, MS, 2006. Lisa moved to Washington D.C. on the Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship to work for Congressman Wayne Gilchrest. She has been at NOAA since 2008, coordinating national efforts across the agency through strategic planning, program management, and policy analysis. She currently works for the Budget Director for NOAA.

Amy Kunza, MS, 2006.  Amy's MS work was published in Estuaries and Coasts. She worked as an environmental scientist in Houston for a number of years, then moved to Charleston SC where she is a Senior Environmental Scientist at AECOM. Her consulting experience includes National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance reviews, Wetlands Delineations, and USACE Clean Water Act (CWA) permitting for  infrastructure and pipeline development.

Cristiano Salgado, MS, 2004.   Cristiano's MS work was published in Ecology. He is currently working in Brazil as an environmental analyst.


Caroline McFarlin, MS, 2004.  Caroline's MS work was published in Estuaries and Coasts.  She recently received a Ph.D. from the University of GA. The photo shows her sampling invertebrates with Dale Bishop and Cristiano Salgado as part of the GCE monitoring program.




Erin Siska, MS (FIT), 1998.  Erinís MS work was done in my lab. Her official advisor at FIT was Dennis Hanisak.  Erin went on to work as a technician and then to teach high school science in Canada. Her MS work was published in Ecology.


Past technicians
(in alphabetical order)



Tracy Buck.  Tracy went on to take a technical position at the North Inlet National Estuarine Research Reserve.


Darrin Moore.  Darrin is currently is employed as a Chemist for the Texas Department of Agriculture, Pesticide Residue laboratory, in College Station.


Ben Nomann.  Ben went on to the Ph.D. program at Florida State University.



Kurt Reinhart.  Kurt went on to get a Ph.D. at the University of Montana, did a postdoc at Indiana University, and took a Research Ecologist position with the USDA-ARS in Montana.  Check out his educational web site at


Past Undergraduates
(in alphabetical order, list is incomplete)



Jennifer Blake-Mahmud.  Jennifer assisted with fall LTER monitoring on Sapelo, processed samples in the lab, and worked with Chelse Prather on plant and insect diversity at the Coastal Center. She is currently a PhD student in the Ecology and Evolution Program at Rutgers (passed her qualifying exam in 2014, congratulations!).

Greg Breed.  Greg earned an MS degree at Texas A&M and a Ph.D. at Dalhousie University (2009). He did postdocs at UCSC and Harvard, did a Banting Fellowship at the University of Alberta, and started a faculty position at the University of Alaska in 2015.


Sarah Corbett.  Sarah got an MS degree at the University of Florida, worked for the FL EPA, and is now working as a Regional Botanist for the National Park Service (her area of responsibility is coastal NC, SC, GA and FL). The photograph shows her working in Congaree National Park.


Evvan-Joi Croll. Evvan graduated from UH, worked in the lab for a summer, then as a field technician in Arizona. When she returned to Houston, she decided to pursue an idea. A few months of brainstorming later, The STEM Babysitting Company was born. Building a business from the ground up has been a complex and exciting

Ride. Feel free to check out her website

Nilam Dave.  Nilam went on to graduate school in nutrition. She's currently in Tuscaloosa, teaching as an instructor in the Department of Nutrition at the University of Alabama.


JR Flanders.  JR went on to a Ph.D. program at UC Santa Cruz, and has worked in environmental consulting ever since. He's currently with AECOM as the global lead for mercury remediation projects.


Nadia Deeb.  Nadia got an MPH in Global Health at USF. She's currently working with the family business in Houston.


Carol GoransonCarol earned an MS at the University of Georgia, worked as a technician on the Boston Area Climate Experiment in MA, and is currently working for NEON in MA.


Mary-Bestor Grant.  Mary-Bestor went into social work in Alabama and Georgia.  She has worked with non-profit medical initiatives to help the uninsured, and in 2012 spent 6 months working with physically and mentally disabled children in Cambodia. In 2016 she finished six months in Costa Rica studying Spanish and working on a certificate in teaching English as a Foreign Language. Her home base is Birmingham Alabama. She's teaching english in Thailand and India in 2017.



Liza Johnson.  Liza earned an MS degree at the College of Charleston, and worked for the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program, the US Coral Reef Task Force Secretariat, and the Department of the Interior (Ocean Policy Analyst) in Washington DC. She is now the Ocean, Coast, and Great Lakes Coordinator for the Department of the Interior.


Audra Luscher.  Audra went on to an MS program at UNC Wilmington.



Christine Miller. Christine is a faculty member at the University of Florida in Gainesville, and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2017. Her lab web site is at

Teri Page. Teri worked in public education at a couple marine laboratories and now is living off the grid in Missouri and blogging about homesteading.


Christina Richards.  Christina (on left, with Tracy Buck) earned a Ph.D. at UGA, did postdocs at SUNY-Stony Brook and NYU, and in 2009 joined the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of South Florida. She got tenure in 2016 and is now an Associate Professor. She spent 2017 in France on a Fulbright grant.

Juliet Simpson.  Julie got a Ph.D. at UCSB and did a postdoc at Brown University. She is working at MIT as an ecologist for Sea Grant. And teaching ecology to undergraduate art students at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Elizabeth Wason.  Liz's undergraduate thesis was published in Estuaries and Coasts.  She completed a Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. Check out her web site Liz is now a certified science writer at the University of Michigan. For examples of her work, see:

Botflies and the perils of scientific research

The snake that ate the dinosaur

The dead elephant in the room

Margee Will.  Margee went on to a PhD program at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand.


Pennings lab luncheon 2010.


Pennings lab party 2006.

GCE-LTER field crew on sawdust pile at old saw mill, Sapelo Island, 2005 or 2006.

Please contact me if you're not listed (probably because I don't know where you are now, and I'd love to hear from you) or if your information needs updating.  Send me a photograph of yourself if I don't have one posted or if you want to update the one I'm using.

Updated 2/2018