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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!

*Due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the Hope Lab research program is in Hibernation Mode for the forseeable future, except for essential activities. However, please feel free to contact us during this time with research queries or interest in joining the Lab into the future. We are actively developing contingency plans for reactivating research!*


This is 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 genetics, 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, microsatellites, and next-generation 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.

Hope Lab News

23 April 2020
Tommy Herrera awarded K-State Division of Biology undergraduate award

A recent recipient of the Most Promising Student award from the Division for continued research on small mammal evolutionary responses to anthropogenic environmental change. Well done Tommy!

30 March 2020
Tommy Herrera awarded Developing Scholars Program award

A recent recipient of the Coffman Excellence in Research Award for the K-state DSP program for investigating the comparative phylogeographic histories of Manitoba mammals based on our field collections from last summer. Congrats Tommy!

14 March 2020
Successful specimen sampling trip to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas

Spring Break 2020 included a rare opportunity to sample small mammals and their parasites in southernmost Texas. A crew of graduate and undergraduate students sampled at three sites along the Rio Grande corridor and obtained samples from a high diversity of small mammals, including our target species Cryptotis parvus berlandieri. Returned home to the initial COVID-19 shutdown! Surreal.

9 January 2020
New MS Student Molly Jones

Molly has joined us from her recently completed undergraduate studies at Purdue. She will be studying hybridization of shrews!

18 November 2019
New Paper in Biological Journal of the Linnean Society

We recently updated systematic relationships within North American pygmy shrews, and performed a comparative analyses indicating concordant evolution among multiple forest mammals. See link here

14 August 2019
Manitoba mammal sampling a success!

Just back from a month of field sampling of small mammals and parasites through southern Manitoba across the prairie to forest ecotone. Thanks to Dr. Bob Wrigley (Curator Emeritus, The Manitoba Museum) for all the help!

30 June 2019
Mary presents poster at the ASM meetings in Washington DC!

Mary Schmidt gives her first poster presentation at the 99th meeting of the American Society of Mammmalogsts in DC, Title: "What are the evolutionary origins of Kansas mammals? Community assembly dynamics through the Great Plains".

30 June 2019
Kailey presents poster at the ASM meetings in Washington DC!

Kailey Meacham gives her first poster presentation at the 99th meeting of the American Society of Mammmalogsts in DC, Title: "Spatiotemporal prevalence of parasites with mammal community turnover and woody encroachment in the Great Plains".

28 June 2019
Hope Lab heads to Washington, DC, for ASM #99!

Going to be a busy meeting for the centennial of the American Society of Mammalogists! Check out tweets @MammalMeetings

13 April 2019
Tommy Herrera awarded Undergraduate Research Grant!

Tommy was recently awarded a K-State Developing Scholars Program research grant and opportunity to do directed research for the next year in the Hope Lab. Congrats Tommy!

9 April 2019
New Paper in Journal of Mammalogy

Multiple colleagues recently published an article highlighting the importance of building integrated research archives of wildlife specimens and their associated parasites. The Supplement constitutes a field methods guide. Check it out here.

20 March 2019
New MS Student Tommy Galfano

Tommy Galfano has accepted an offer into the MS program at K-state. He is currently finishing his UG degree at University of New Mexico in Albuquerque while also doing research in the lab of Dr. Joe Cook. Thesis Project Pending...

11 March 2019
New MS Student Ben Wiens

Ben Wiens from Central Kansas has joined the lab to pursue a MS degree beginning in Fall 2019. Thesis project pending...

4 March 2019
New Post-doctoral Researcher Fraser Combe

Dr. Fraser Combe recently arrived in Manhattan, KS, from Manchester Metropolitan University in England. He will be working on shrew systematics, evolutionary history, and small mammal conservation.

25 February 2019
New Paper in Encyclopedia of the World's Biomes

"Arctic Tundra Mammals" was recently posted online as part of Elseviers reference module in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences on ScienceDirect. Check it out here.

14 February 2019
New Paper in Acta Parasitologica

Recent research article describes a method for rapid fixation of shrew parasites in the field. Check it out here.

28 November 2018
Post-Doc Position Available in the Hope Lab!

I am currently seeking a Post-Doctoral Fellow for the Hope Lab. The position will be open until filled and will be a one year appointment with potential for renewal.

25-29 June 2018
American Society of Mammalogists 99th Annual Meeting at K-State

ASM meeting 2018 was a success! Campus and Union were a great venue. High profile mammal science presented. Check out tweets @asmwildcat

28 June 2018
Rodent trophic ecology poster at ASM

Bia Gragg presented her undergraduate research at the ASM meetings. Poster title "Isotopic trophic niche dynamics of small mammal communities reveal spatiotemporal complexity across an experimental prairie woodland mosaic." Trophic partitioning by small mammals on Konza Priaire is contingent on time of year, year of study, experimental treatment, and community. Will be good to see a third year of data during the current drought.

28 June 2018
Mammalian parasitic nematodes of Konza Prairie poster at ASM

Dr. Agustin Jimenez presented collaborative research on parasite faunas recovered from small mammals of Konza: "Nematode assemblages provide a first glimpse of mammal-helminth community dynamics within the central Great Plains." New locality records and possibly two new species (Trichuris spp.; Vexillata n. sp.).

25 June 2018
ASM Holistic Specimen Collection Workshop

Co-organized by Hope Lab and Galbreath Lab, we brought a great team of expert parasitologists (Ralph Eckerlin, Stephen Greiman, Agustin Jimenez) to instruct this workshop for 30 ASM members, teaching mammalogists how to make the most of their field specimens, including collection, preservation, and identification of major ecto- and endo-parasite groups. Thanks to K-State Vet Medicine (Dryden and Herrin Labs) for hosting the venue.