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Hope Lab

Hope Lab

Mailing Address
Kansas State University
Division of Biology
116 Ackert Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506

office 785-532-0155
lab 785-532-0157



Welcome to the Hope Laboratory at K-State!


We are an interdisciplinary lab group focused on understanding the evolutionary and ecological responses of biodiversity to environmental change. We incorporate theory and practice from the diverse fields of climate change, comparative phylogeography, conservation genomics, dynamics of hybridization, emerging infectious disease, host-parasite coevolution, natural history of mammals and their parasites, phylogenetic systematics, and speciation.

Our research has global scope, although there is a strong emphasis on northern hemisphere small mammal and parasite assemblages, conservation of Arctic biodiversity, and the dynamics surrounding ecotones between major biomes such as the boreal forest-tundra suture zone at northern high-latitudes and the Great Plains-eastern forest suture that bisects North America from west to east.

The techniques we use include molecular methods (Sanger sequencing and genomic sequencing of DNA), morphometrics, stable isotope evaluation of diet, and modeling of potential environmental niche through time. Our research relies heavily on specimen archives held in natural history museum research collections. Through extensive and ongoing field sampling efforts we strive to practice ethical holistic collection of all associated specimen parts to maximize future research potential for the broader scientific community, for informing wildlife managers, and for both public and academic education. 

Please contact us with any questions.


We are an equal opportunity lab and actively strive towards anti-racism and dismantling all forms of discrimination against marginalized people. We also acknowledge that the lands on which Kansas State University thrives, as well as the land on which we conduct our research, are the home of First Nations peoples, here in Kansas and across North America.


Photos: Image 1: The Hope Lab at Lake Scott, KS sampling small mammals in the summer of 2020; Image 2: A high density site in coastal scrub of southernmost Texas, vicinity of Brownsville, in spring 2020 (2 days before pandemic declaration); Image 3: Hope Lab members preparing mammal study skins at Lovewell Reservoir, KS, in summer of 2020; Image 4: Loading field gear at Lake Clark, KS, summer 2021; Image 5: Mammalogy class on Konza Praire 2022; Image 6: Preparing possum specimens, Fall 2022; Image 7: Prep tent processing Marais des Cygnes, Spring 2023; TJ Hafliger, Andrew, Tommy Herrera, Litsa Wooten and Ben Wiens at White Sands National Monument on route to Tuscon mammal meetings, Summer 2022.


Hope Lab

Texas catch

study skinningLake ClarkMammalogypossumsMdCWite Sands

Hope Lab News


KSB has gone global!

The Kansas State Biorepository for mammals and parasites is now officially active on the ARCTOS multi-institutional digital collections consortium. Now time to enter all our data! Stay tuned for searchable specimen records...

We have a Collections Manager!

Morgan Skinner, a recent K-State graduate has returned in her capacity as the KSB collections manager. We are building this archive from the ground up, so lots to do! Thanks also to our colleagues, especially at the Museum of Southwestern Biology, KU Biodiversity Institute, and ARCTOS staff for sharing their curatorial wisdom.

New Flying Squirrel Technicians!

Amanda Bishop and Lydia Robbins both recently joined the southern flying squirrel research team as field technicians. They will be stationed in Pittsburg, KS through winter 2023-24, camera trapping and live trapping squirrels.

Success at ASM 2023 in ANC!

Four Hope Lab members attended the American Society of Mammalogists annual meeting in Anchorage AK (joint meeting with International Mammalian Congress) and all presented research. Basant Sharma presented a poster on Nepal bat biogeography; Kaitlyn Headlee presented a poster on northern bog-lemming conservation genomics, TJ Hafliger presented a poster on Kansas deer genomics, and Hope presented a talk on diversification of cinereus shrews.

New paper on bog-lemmings!

Hope lab members and alumn, along with our collaborator Zach Olson from University of New England recently published a conservation genomics assessment of northern bog-lemmings (Mictomys borealis). This is timely as the species is currently being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

Langston UG at K-State!

We have a visiting student, Oscar Casillas-Vajello, from Lanston University, OK, joining us for some of the summer to gain experience in molecular lab methods and field work. This opportunity is sponsored by the K-INBRE program.

Welcome to a new M.S. student

Brandon Bernhardt has returned to school after several years of work experience in the field of wildlife management techniques. He joined us in early summer 2023 to begin field data collection for his M.S. thesis on southern flying squirrel landscape ecology. This species (Glaucomys volans) is a SGCN for the state of Kansas. Brandons research is funded by a State Wildlife Action Plan grant from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. Brandon is Co-advised by Dr. Adam Ahlers, also at K-State.

Tiger conservation paper is out!

Basant Sharma recently published one of his M.S. thesis chapters in Trees, Forests, and People, focused on human-tiger conflict in the lowlands of Nepal.

Sharma awarded a GIA!

Basant Sharma was awarded research dollars from the American Society of Mammalogists Grants-In-Aid program to develop his Ph.D. research on Nepal bat biogeography and systematics.

Carney is most promising!

In May 2023, Luke Carney was selected as a K-State Biology Most Promising Undergraduate Student. Well done!

UG turnover in the Hope Lab

Spring 2023: As some of the long-standing Hope Lab undergraduate members graduate and move on, we have picked up a number of new recruits, all gaining skills in specimen preparation, museum curation, and field methods. We welcome Ryan Grutsch, Nathan Meyer, Brianna Nece, Brianna Fields, Luke Carney, and Kenzie Davis!

New NSF Museum Grant (ICBR)

The Hope Lab was recently awarded an NSF grant (2226917; $276,954) through the DBI-ICBR program to renovate and digitize the existing mammal collections at K-State. This marks the start of the Kansas State Biorepository for mammals and parasites and an opportunity to bring the existing collections, and new accessions from here on out, up to the highest modern stadards of curation, embracing values of the Extended Specimen!

New KDWP SWAP Grant!

The Hope Lab and Ahlers Lab were recently awarded a grant through the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks to study the ecology and evolutionary biology of the southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans), currently listed as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need for the State of Kansas. The grant ($353,760) extends from October 2022 through September 2026 and will support at least one MS student, multiple technicians and undergraduate researchers.

Welcome to a new Ph.D. student!

Basant Sharma joined the Hope Lab in Fall 2022 to commence his studies for a Ph.D. degree. Basant comes to Kansas from Katmandu in Nepal. He studied the dynamics of human-tiger conflict for his M.S. degree at Tribuvhan University, and for his doctoral research, he plans to perform the first genetic assessment of Nepal bats, focusing on their biogeographic history, higher-level systematics and phylogeographic history.

New Parasite from Konza!

In collaboration with members of the Jimenez Lab at Southern Illinois University, we recently published a species description of a new tapeworm from rodents on Konza Prairie. This is the first in a number of new parasites and new host-parasite relationships that are being discovered from the central Great Plains.

On and up for Hope Lab grads!

In May 2022, we say farewell to Tommy Herrera M.S., and Litsa Wooten B.S. as they advance to the next stage of their careers. Tommy has now joined the Nachman Lab and Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at U.C. Berkeley, and Litsa has joined the Cook Lab and Museum of Southwestern Biology at University of New Mexico. We look forward to future collaborations!