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Conservation Biology Schultz Research Group






Cheryl Schultz






Sam Bussan






Kelsey King






Christopher Jason

Principal Investigator

Cheryl Schultz

Office: (360) 546-9525
Lab: (360) 546-9692
Fax: (360) 546-9064
Located in Life Sciences (VSCI) 230


Current Lab Members


Collin Edwards
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Biology (email)

Collin defended his PhD in Ecology at Cornell University in 2019. As a theoretical ecologist, the tools Collin uses (dynamic models, computer simulations, and an array of statistical techniques) can be applied to diverse questions in ecology and evolutionary biology. He’s interested in three pressing questions in ecology: (a) How do plant defenses impact insect herbivores and structure plant and insect communities? (b) How do weather conditions and climate change impact population dynamics and phenology (the timing of life history events) for at-risk insects? (c) What structures communities of microbiomes, like those on cheese or in the human body? In the Schultz lab, Collin is discovering the fates of at-risk butterfly species, and determining how the yearly range expansion of Western Monarch butterflies has changed as their population crashed.


Sam Bussan
Ph.D. Candidate, Biology (email)
Sam completed a B.S. in Forest Ecosystem Restoration and Management from University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point in 2015. Her interests include butterfly biology, agroecology, sustainable agriculture, and restoration ecology. Her work as a member of the Schultz Lab focuses on butterflies on working lands—specifically, cattle and dairy farms—in the south Puget Sound. She is studying how different grazing management regimes affect butterfly community composition and diversity.


Kelsey King
Ph.D. Candidate, Biology (email)
Kelsey completed a B.A. in Biology and Environmental Studies at Cornell College in 2015 and spent the next several years working with Crane Trust in Nebraska. As a member of the Schultz Lab, Kelsey will be examining the natural history of Puget blue butterfly, a candidate species for listing in Washington, as well as investigating phenological shifts between the butterfly, plant community, and other associated species.


Christopher Jason

Technician (email)
Jason joined the lab in spring 2019 and has assisted on various projects including a season of fieldwork in the South Sound tracking butterfly movement in response to grazing regime and the Western Monarch Mystery Challenge in 2020 and 2021.



Lilianne de la Espriella

Communications and Outreach Coordinator (email)
Lilianne is the Communications and Outreach Coordinator for the Western Monarch Mystery Challenge. As a first generation American originally from Florida, she set her sights on UC Santa Cruz to study Ecology and Environmental Studies and graduated as a highly productive student researcher, science communicator, and amongst the top of her class. Now she is working at the intersection of science and the general public to bridge the two worlds in a seamless way.


Former Lab Members

Graduate Students


Cassandra Doll
Technician, M.S in Biology 2021 (email)
Cassandra’s thesis examined the efficacy of using selective herbicides as a primary restoration tool in Oregon silverspot butterfly habitat, and she completed a Fellowship in the Directorate Fellow’s Program in the summer of 2020.


Chelsea Thomas
M.S. in Zoology, 2017
Chelsea’s thesis work focused on the mutualistic interaction between ants and larvae of the endangered Fender’s blue; factors that affect the mutualism and mutualist effect on larval survival. He then worked in the lab as a technologist on lab and field components of various projects on threatened and endangered butterflies, including western monarchs.


Leland Bennion
M.S. in Biology, 2018
Leland’s thesis work examined effects of grass-specific herbicide use on plant communities in Fender’s blue butterfly habitat. He is currently working on finishing analyses for the Schultz lab and working as a laboratory manager at the University of Pittsburgh.


Joey Smokey
M.S. in Zoology, 2017
Joey is a quantitative ecologist and is currently a Ph.D. student studying Computational Biology at Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. His thesis work investigated the the relative impact of different fire management practices on population dynamics of Fender’s blue butterfly.

Thesis: Is fine-scale fire disturbance better for insect populations? Evaluating population growth rate in response to management plans for an endangered butterfly metapopulation

Jessica Zemaitis
M.S. in Environmental Science, 2015

Thesis: Effects of a graminicide on three Euphydryas species, surrogates for endangered and at-risk checkerspots

Rachel Glaeser
M.S. in Environmental Science, 2014

Thesis: Characterizing a contentious management tool: the effects of a grass-specific herbicide on the silvery blue butterfly

Rhiannon Thomas
M.S. in Environmental Science 2013

Thesis: Sex-specific nectar plant use and selection by an endangered butterfly: implications for conservation and recovery

Alexa Carleton
M.S. in Environmental Science 2011

Thesis: Restoration action and species response: oviposition habits of Plebejus icarioides fenderi (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) across a restoration chronosequence in the Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA

Erica Henry
M.S. in Environmental Science 2010

Thesis: A first step towards successful habitat restoration and reintroduction: understanding oviposition site selection of an imperiled butterfly, Mardon skipper

Caitlin LaBar
M.S. in Environmental Science 2009

ThesisInvestigating the use of herbicides to control invasive grasses in prairie habitats: effects on non-target butterflies

Loni Beyer
M.S. in Environmental Science 2008

Thesis: Oviposition selection by a rare grass skipper, Polites mardon, in montane habitats: advancing ecological understanding for developing conservation strategies

Cheryl Russell
M.S. in Environmental Science 2008

Jason Dzurisin
M.S. in Environmental Science 2005

ThesisCaptive rearing and endangered butterfly recovery: captive environments and implications for propagation


Postdoctoral Researchers

Rachael Bonoan
Postdoctoral Researcher (2018-2020)
Rachael was part of both the Schultz Lab here at WSU and the Crone Lab at Tufts University, Rachael investigated the natural history of the symbiosis between Puget blue caterpillars and their attendant ants given potential phenological shifts.


Norah Warchola
Postdoctoral Researcher, 2013 – 2015
Norah split her time between WSUV and the Crone Lab at Tufts University. Her work at WSUV focused on the demography and movement of Fender’s blue butterfly and how the species reacted to prescribed burns of its prairie habitat.


Dina Roberts
Postdoctoral Researcher

Aldina Franco
Postdoctoral Researcher

Paul Severns
Postdoctoral Researcher


REU Students

Aramee Diethelm
Portland State University, REU 2016
Aramee is currently pursing a Ph.D. at the University of Nevada, Reno. As an REU student, she studied larval growth rates of monarch (Danaus plexippus) larvae on three different milkweed (Asclepias) species and the sublethal effects of neonicotinoids from seed treatments in co-occurring agricultural crops.


June Arriens

June joined the lab in October 2019, and worked part-time between WSU and Tufts University. Her WSU work focused on analyzing long-term Fender’s blue data, and assisting with South Sound fieldwork.


Zach Freed
Lab Technician

Undergraduate Assistants

Rebecca Neville
B.S. in Environmental Science

Kim Harless
B.S. in Environmental Science