People

John Stella, Ph.D.

John StellaJohn Stella

Assistant Professor

Department of Forest and Natural Resources Management
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
One Forestry Drive, Syracuse, NY 13210
Email: stella@esf.edu
Phone: 315-470-4902

Curriculum vitae (PDF)

Department homepage


Li Kui

Ph.D. student, Environmental Science (Water and Wetland Resource Studies)

Research Interests: I am studying the reciprocal influences between river disturbance regimes (flooding and sediment transport) and riparian tree populations. My research is a part of a three-university cooperative project funded by NSF: Quantifying feedbacks between fluvial morphodynamics and pioneer riparian vegetation in sand-bed rivers (PROJECT LINK). My work integrates full scale flume studies at the Outdoor Stream Lab at the University of Minnesota (St. Anthony Falls Laboratory), field studies on the Bill Williams River in Arizona, and geospatial analysis of vegetation and geomorphic change over time.


Shawn Cleveland

Ph.D. student, Environmental Science (Water and Wetland Resource Studies)

Research Interests: I am modeling impacts to forest communities of beaver foraging at landscape scales (e.g., Adirondack Park, other Northern Forest regions) using ecological relationships developed at finer local scales (e.g., foraging intensity gradients from ponds and wetlands) and existing geospatial data. The applied goal of this research is to assist forest managers to predict the spatial distribution, potential footprint and harvest intensity of beaver impacts within the Adirondacks, and compare them to other disturbances that affect forest health, timber productivity, recreation value, and delivery of ecosystem services such as biodiversity and carbon sequestration.


Andrea Irons

M.S. student, Environmental Science (Water and Wetland Resource Studies)

Research Interests: I am studying riparian forest dynamics along California’s Sacramento River. I love both forests and rivers, and am interested in how they affect one another. I hope to analyze the relationship between flow regimes and tree recruitment and succession, particularly focusing on the Fremont cottonwoods native to the area. Utilizing GIS, hundreds of tree cores, and sediment data, I hope to draw a picture of how the riparian forest has changed in relation to management of the Sacramento River over time.


Carissa Alza

M.S. student, Environmental Forest Biology (Conservation Biology); Co-advisor Stacy McNulty

Research Interests: My research examines how avian species richness, composition, and guild diversity vary between beaver-impacted and non-impacted riparian zones within the central Adirondack Mountains. I am also examining how avian community structure changes as beaver ponds undergo successional changes. I will also be looking at vegetative structure and habitat variables to make links between beaver impacts and witnessed avian usage.


Stefan Karkuff

M.S. student, Environmental Forest Biology (Conservation Biology); Co-advisor Dr. Don Leopold

Research Interests: I am interested in understanding the nutrient benefits of allochthonous leaf litter in Northeastern US vernal pool ecosystems. My goal is to quantify the nutritional value of various leaf species using physical, chemical, and biological indicators. These unique microecosystems are typically found in heavily shaded forests, and therefore lack the primary production benefits of most larger wetlands. Thus, this project will contribute significantly to our understanding of the controlling influence of stand composition and structure on forest wetlands. My results will have direct relevance to agencies engaged in vernal pool creation and wetland mitigation.


Tyler Hall

M.P. S. student, Natural Resources Management


Former Members of the Stella Lab


Jess RiddleJess Riddle

Dendroecology Lab Manager

Research Interests: I am studying the climate-growth relationships of eastern redcedar and its close relative common juniper. The species grow together at my study sites where redcedar approaches its northern range limit and common juniper approaches its southern range limit. In general, I am interested in anything that lives in forests and doesn't run away from me: trees, herbaceous plants, lichens, and other fungi are all fair game. Currently I am working on influences of physical river processes on the population structure of Fremont cottonwood, a dominant riparian tree along the Sacramento River, California PROJECT LINK as well as dendroecology and stable isotope indicators of of riparian tree health in semi-arid ecosystems PROJECT LINK.


Elizabeth Harper, Ph.D.

Elizabeth Harper

Post-doctoral Research Fellow, 2008-2010

Elizabeth is now a Lecturer at Paul Smith's College.

Previous Degrees: Middlebury College B.A. in Biology;
University of Missouri - Columbia, Ph.D. in Biological Sciences

Research Interests: I am developing patch-based population models for Fremont cottonwood stands on the Sacramento River in California's Central Valley. The models will be used to predict the effects of climate change and changes in flow regime on the riparian ecosystem. PROJECT LINK


Sara Scanga, Ph.D.

Sara Scanga

Post-doctoral Research Fellow, 2009-2010

Sara is now an Assistant Professor in Biology at Utica College.

Previous Degrees: Drew Univerisity, Madison, NJ, B.A. in Biology; SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Ph.D. in Ecology

Research Interests: I am broadly interested in plant and wetland ecology. My dissertation research (Dr. Don Leopold, major professor, SUNY-ESF) concerns the population ecology and conservation of the rare wetland plant Trollius laxus, which grows in fens in the northeastern US. In the Stella Lab I examined riparian tree seedling establishment patterns along aridland rivers. PROJECT LINK


Alex Fremier, Ph.D.Alex Fremier

Post-Doc, 2008

Alex is now an Assistant Professor in Fish and Wildlife Resources at University of Idaho.

Previous Degrees: University of California, Davis, Ph.D. in Ecology; M.A.in Geography;
Principia College, Elsah, IL, B.S. in Environmental Science & Mathematics

Research Interests: Riparian Ecology and River Restoration; Landscape Ecology of Large Rivers; Semi Arid River Systems; Watershed Scale Dynamics of Large Woody Debris; Modeling of Landscape Genetics; Geographic Information Systems; EcoAgriculture. PROJECT LINK


Laura Schifman

Laura Schifman

M.S., Graduated 2010

Laura is now in the Ph.D. program in Geociences at University of Rhode Island.

Previous Degree: Union College, B.S. in Biology

M.S. Thesis Title: Water stress response and plant survival in four shrub willow varieties across three sites with varying soil substrates in Central New York.

Research Interests: My research used stable isotopes to study the ecophysiological functioning of willows used in biomass crops and phytoremediation. PROJECT LINK


Anna Harrison

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M.S., Graduated 2011

Anna now manages a research laboratory at the University of Michgan

Previous Degree: University of Michigan, B.S. in Biology

M.S. Thesis Title: Landscape influences on site occupancy by beaver and resultant foraging impacts on forest compositon and structure (Adirondack Mountans, NY, USA)

Research Interests:My research integrated a 30-year beaver occupancy dataset at Huntington Forest in the Central Adirondacks with extensive field work and geospatial analyses to quantifythe forest impacts associated with varying degrees of beaver occupancy. As part of this, I analyzed relationships between beaver occupancy and landscape topography, the quantity and quality of woody plant forage, and dam site mainenance costs. PROJECT LINK


Kacie Gehl

Kacie Gehl

M.S., Graduated 2010

Kacie is now a community watershed and environmental educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension in Syracuse, NY.

Previous Degree: State University of New York, Binghamton, B.S. in Biology

M.S. Thesis Title: Multi-scale analysis of synoptic streamwater chemistry and seasonal nutrient limitation in a mixed-use catchment (Onondaga Creek, NY)

Research Interests: I study the biogeochemistry and nutrient stoichiometry of the Onondaga Creek watershed in Syracuse, NY. I am interested in how water chemistry varies throughout a network with land-use and natural features such as tributary confluences, salt springs, and mudboils. I am analyzing gradients in nutrient loading and limitations for in-stream production at different catchment scales. My goal is to understand the most relevant perspective for evaluating stream physio-chemical gradients in a catchment with diverse land uses (forest, agriculture, urban) and cumulative impacts to water quality. PROJECT LINK


Cheryl Bondi

Ph.D. student

Previous Degrees: Salem State College, Massachusetts, B.S. in Biology. Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA, M.A. in Biology

Research Interests:My dissertation research focuses on the role of Calcium in northern hardwood forest floor ecology. I am studying community structure and trophic interactions between snails, arthropods and terrestrial salamanders in forests with varying levels of available Calcium in the organic soil horizon. In a landscape that has undergone historically high levels of acid deposition, this research will provide insight into the effects that Calcium leaching may have on the leaf litter fauna and bottom up processes in northeastern forests.


Laura Johnstone

M.P.S. student, Forest and Natural Resources Management (Watershed Management and Forest Hydrology)

Previous Degree: University of St. Andrews (Scotland), B.S. in Environmental Geoscience

Career Interests: Hydrogeology and groundwater management.


James Katz

M.P.S. student, Environmental Science (Water and Wetland Resource Studies)

Previous Degree: State University of New York, Cortland, B.S. in Biology

Career Interests: Watershed, stream and wetlands management.


Tyler TalucciTyler Talucci

M.P.S., Graduated 2010

Career Interests: I am interested in the dynamics and control of invasive species, particularly non-native aquatic macrophytes in lakes and rivers.


Johanna Duffy

Johanna Duffy

M.P.S., Graduated 2009

Career Interests: My interests are associated with wetland resources and the diversity and interactions of animal and plant species that are found within these complex ecosystems. I enjoy ecological sampling and wetland monitoring, especially if these actions relate to wetland protection issues and/or state and federal environmental regulations. My capstone seminar will focus on ecological sampling and wetland monitoring at landfill sites.


Rachel Ribaudo

M.S., Graduated 2009 (Co-major professor Laura K. Lautz, Syracuse University)

Rachel is now working for EA Engineering, Science and Technology in Syracuse, NY.

Previous Degree: University of Evansville, B.S. in Environmental Science

M.S. Thesis Title: Heat and chemical tracing of groundwater discharge to Ninemile Creek, New York


Lisa Kurian

M.S., Graduated 2009 (Co-major professor Laura K. Lautz, Syracuse University)

Lisa is now working for the US Forest Service in the Willamette National Forest in Oregon.

Previous Degree: Slippery Rock University, BA in Environmental Geoscience

M.S. Thesis Title: Winter hydrology and nitrogen export from a forested watershed of the Adirondack Mountains