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Graduate Students

Kiersten Youngquist, M.S. Student (Linkedin)

I am interested in understanding how anthropogenic stress influences wildlife population persistence and behaviors. While in the Darracq lab my research involved understanding 1) the influence of the Asian clam, an invasive bivalve in North American freshwater systems, on native freshwater mussel health and 2) what factors influence freshwater mussel reintroduction success. I'm now working in a research facility at Washington University as the lab manager. My hobbies include reading, yoga, and painting. I also enjoy travelling and jump at every opportunity to see new places, both at home and abroad. 


John Hewlett, M.S. Student

I’m interested in an integrative approach to biology across scales from molecules to ecosystems, with an emphasis on physiological ecology and disease ecology. I’m also interested in the interface between the conservation of biodiversity and the implications for public health. My research before graduating involved assessing stress reactivity as it pertains to fungal disease in wild snakes and what role behavior plays in disease dynamics. I'm currently a professor at Murray State University, teaching a variety of classes including Introductory Biology, Human Anatomy and Physiology, Herpetology, Biological Inquiry and Analysis, and Wildlife Diseases. My hobbies include reading, nature photography, scuba diving, flying airplanes, and spending time with my family.

Undergraduate Research Students

Brianna Gibbons (Linkedin)

I am interested in the ecology of and anthropogenic influences on the behavior of marine and aquatic wildlife. I plan to attend graduate school, beginning in 2022, to receive a Master's in Marine Biology and I hope to work as a researcher in the future. As a recipient of the SUPERB Scholarship, I have been given the opportunity to research the bactericidal capacity of Timber Rattlesnake blood plasma, using E. coli and blood collected from snakes as part of a previous project. My current hobbies are horseback riding, rock climbing, hiking, and pretty much anything else outdoors.

IMG_20190611_160542 - Brianna

Brendan Calhoun (Linkedin)

I am interested in how mammals respond to management (e.g. prescribed fire). I aim for my research to help improve the effectiveness of common natural resource management techniques. I am a hardworking, optimistic, adventurous kind of person. I'm now working on a refuge as an easement specialist. My hobbies to date include backpacking, kayaking, and hunting, with the recent addition of some rock climbing. With that being said, I have yet to find much of anything I do not enjoy doing, as long as it gets me outside making memories with others.

Elliot Clouse 

I'm interested in how humans influence predator-prey relationships. My research while an undergraduate in the Darracq lab involved understanding how management influences raccoon foraging behaviors. I'm now pursuing my M.S. with Dr. Carroll at Murray State University. I grew up in a rural area and developed a respect for nature thanks to my surroundings and upbringing, and hope to teach or model that respect and care for others.


Lee Neighbors 

I am a post-baccalaureate student who returned to school in the Fall of 2016 to earn a degree in Conservation Biology. Since earning my first degree in Digital Media in 2015, I uncovered new inspiration and ambition to join the scientific community in restoring wildlife, habitat, and the environment. I hope to also continue working with my previous degree by combining art and the natural sciences, utilizing visual communication and graphic design to effectively share scientific knowledge with the public.

Emma Fehlker Campbell 

My interests are in how diseases, toxins, and other stressors impact individuals, and how that knowledge can be used to conserve imperiled species. I was involved in two main projects at the lab. The first project is to better understand the relationship between stress, parasitism, and snake fungal disease in a wild population of cottonmouths. The second focuses on monitoring changing bird diversity in the presence of timber management using Audiomoths, a low-cost bioacoustics monitoring device. I'm now pursuing my M.Sc. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Outside of the lab, some of my hobbies include hiking, photography, special effects makeup, and recently rock climbing.

Lab picture - Emma Fehlker Campbell.PNG

Sam Smith 

Hi! I am a third-year wildlife biology major at MSU minoring in agriculture, and am planning on obtaining my certificates in both GIS and Portuguese! I am interested in road ecology, scavenger ecology, and landscape ecology. Academics and research are my main priority, so when I am not in the lab, I’m most likely in class or studying! Though, when I do have a break, you better bet I am going to be watching Golden Girls or Bob’s Burgers!

Gage Barnes (Linkedin)

I'm working on my thesis under the guidance of Dr. Flinn at Murray State University. I'm collecting data on plant species across degraded, restored, and natural wetlands. I'm also developing strategies to increase public outreach. It allows me to follow my passion for inspiring the public to take meaningful actions to conserve nature. When I’m not in the lab, you can find me out in nature observing wildlife, hiking, and trail running with my dogs.

Image by Mark Olsen

Frannie Preston 

Coming soon...

Brandon Preston 

In the Darracq lab I worked on the eastern box turtle project and the Green Heart project. I was a temporary employee at Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge and as of recent, I work for KDFWR as a Fish and Wildlife Technician. I hope to continue pursuing my wildlife career in government agencies, hopefully federal in the future. My ideal career would be combining research and management, specifically in some sort of stream/wetland ecosystem. 


Jordan Tandy (McNair Scholarship Program) 

Bri Vance (McNair Scholarship Program) 

MSU Amphibian & Reptile Collection (MSU ARC) Interns

Taylor Horton (Past MSU ARC Outreach Coordinator)

I am interested in conservation education and helping nurture a respect for the outdoors in others, especially kids that can then grow up and make future decisions for how we will protect our wild areas in the face of human induced threats. Being a part of the Amphibian & Reptile Outreach Program has allowed me to share the mission of conservation with my college peers and the surrounding community through hosting educational programs around campus and in town. I hope to join the workforce as a conservation educator and continue carrying the torch to spark a passion for wildlife and the environment in those around me. 

Meaghan Fowler (Head caretaker)

Hello! My name is Meaghan and I’m a junior Wildlife and Conservation Biology major on the zoological track. I want to work either as a zookeeper or as an environmental educator. I’ve worked with bird of prey for four-and-a-half years. I have been to Wisconsin and Ecuador and will be residing in Oregon this summer, but I’m a Saint Louis, Missouri native!

Julia Steffens (Head caretaker)

My name is Julia Steffens and I am a junior wildlife zoology major at Murray State with a minor in Spanish. My dream is to study ecosystems and behaviors of marine species. In addition, I love teaching kids about wildlife and encouraging people to explore nature. 

Stay curious and ¡Pura Vida! 

Jodi Miller (Head caretaker) 

Hannah Hickox (Caretaker) 

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