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Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Current Graduate Students

Ph.D. Students


Natalie Pegg

Natalie Pegg

Project: Movements, Space Use, and Vital Rates of Mourning Doves
Advisor: Dr. David Haukos
Expected Completion: 2026
Degree Seeking: Ph.D.
Education: B.S., Butler University; M.S., University of Florida
Research Interests: Population dynamics, wildlife management, species interactions, habitat selection, urban ecology

Natalie is currently working on a dissertation focused on the breeding ecology of mourning doves in Kansas. The goal of her project is to provide baseline data that can be used to examine local population trends. In addition to vital rates, she is interested in looking into the impacts of competition and disease on mourning doves across Kansas. Natalie is originally from St. Louis, Missouri, and she received a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from Butler University. In 2022, she completed a master's degree in wildlife ecology and conservation at the University of Florida where she focused on the habitat selection of specialist birds in residential neighborhoods.

M.S. Students


Megan Vhay       Megan Vhay

Project: Reconstruction of landscape composition and vegetation characteristics in the Sand Sagebrush Prairie Ecoregion
Advisor: Dr. David Haukos
Expected Completion: 2022
Degree Seeking: M.S.
Education: B.S., University of Maine Orono


Megan grew up in Maine and Massachusetts, and studied Wildlife Ecology at the University of Maine in Orono. She will be studying landscape changes in the sand sagebrush prairie ecoregion as they relate to Lesser Prairie-Chicken historic and current populations. She is interested in how changing habitat quality, as well as influence of CRP, has influenced the birds’ presence in this part of their range. 


 Ashley Messier    Ashley Messier

Project: Patterns of greenness (NDVI) in the southern Great Plains and their influence on the habitat quality and reproduction of a declining prairie grouse
Advisors: Dr. Dan Sullins and Dr. David Haukos
Expected Completion: 2023
Degree Seeking: M.S.
Education: B.A., Unity College, Maine
Research Interests: Remote sensing, population demographics, resource selection  

Ashley is originally from Connecticut, but she received her Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Management from Unity College in Maine. After finding her way to Kansas to study lesser prairie-chickens, she was soon accepted into an M.S. degree program at K-State to continue researching this species. She currently uses remotely sensed vegetation phenology metrics to investigate their influence on nest and brood site selection, nest survival, and reproductive habitat abundance. She is interested in developing innovative ways to identify and monitor threatened/endangered species habitat at relevant broad spatial scales through the use of remote sensing.


Camille Rieber

      Camille Rieber

Project: Lesser prairie-chicken movement modelling
Advisor: Dr. David Haukos and
Dr. Trevor Hefley
Expected Completion: 2023
Degree Seeking: M.S.
Education: B.A., Washington University, St. Louis
Research Interests: Movement modelling, Bayesian statistics, spatial statistics 

Camille completed a double major in environmental biology and mathematics from Washington University in St. Louis, and is applying her background in statistics to developing a movement modeling framework for lesser prairie-chicken GPS data. She is interested in comparing lesser prairie-chicken movements between different grazing management practices and creating a modelling framework for COOP students to continue to use.


Olivia Rode

Olivia Rode

Project: Improving the Link Between Data (e.g., Monitoring & Research) & Successful Conservation
Advisor: Dr. Martha Mather
Expected Completion: 2023
Degree Seeking: M.S.
Education: B.A., Rockhurst University, KC, MO
Research Interests: Fish Ecology, Wildlife Management, Conservation, Community Ecology

Olivia was born and raised in Kansas and received her bachelor’s degree in biology, as well as a minor in environmental studies, at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri. Her lifetime interest in aquatic systems has led to a focus on native fish conservation. Her goal is to utilize existing fish and habitat survey data, to answer questions and propose conservation actions that advance the Kansas Wildlife Action Plan. Implementing a hybrid digital-empirical approach, she is interested in identifying if models that use local data provide different results than those obtained by remote sensing and if relationships exist between GIS and local habitat survey data.