Justine Smith, PI

Justine joined the Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology department at UC Davis in January 2020. Her research interests include predator-prey interactions, movement behavior, foraging ecology, wildlife restoration, and human-wildlife interactions.

University of California, Berkeley Postdoctoral Scholar
University of California, Santa Cruz PhD: Environmental Studies
University of Colorado, Boulder BA: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Anthropology

justinesmith (at) ucdavis.edu


Ellie Bolas, PhD candidate

Ellie’s research interests include species interactions such as competition and predation, wildlife movement and habitat use, interactions between wildlife and humans, and island ecology. Her PhD research is in partnership with the National Park Service at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, and examines mule deer behavior, spatial ecology, and predator-prey interactions with mountain lions relative to wildfire, human activity, and human development in the greater Los Angeles area. Her master’s research took place on the California Channel Islands. She investigated appropriate methods for monitoring island spotted skunks, and evaluated microhabitat associations and temporal activity by island spotted skunks and island foxes that may facilitate coexistence between the two. Outside of research, Ellie engages in initiatives to expand diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education and science.

University of California, Davis  MS: Ecology
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill  BA: Environmental Studies, Religious Studies

ebolas (at) ucdavis.edu


Kendall Calhoun, Smith Conservation Postdoctoral Fellow and UC President's Postdoctoral Scholar

Co-advised with Dr. Morgan Tingley (UCLA) and Dr. Brett Furnas (CDFW)

Kendall's research examines how ecological disturbances influence wildlife community assemblages and ecological resilience. Specifically, his research focuses on the impact of California wildfires on the conservation of native mammal and bird species. His work also seeks to understand the potential consequences of climate change and fire disturbances in altering dynamics of human-wildlife conflict.

University of California, Berkeley  PhD: Environmental Science, Policy, and Management
University of California, Berkeley  BS: Molecular Environmental Biology

klcalhoun (at) ucdavis.edu


Olivia Feldman, PhD candidate

Olivia is interested in how wildlife, livestock and people interact in working landscapes, and how these dynamics shape human-wildlife conflict. Having grown up and worked in several countries in Latin America and South Asia where people, livestock and wildlife live alongside each other, Olivia is passionate about integrating people into the study of ecological interactions to improve conservation outcomes for both. Olivia is partnered with Rewilding Argentina (RA), and her doctoral research focuses on investigating mechanisms that drive conflict between sheep ranchers and wildlife in the Patagonia region of Argentina, using puma and guanaco collar data, camera trap data and planned experiments in the field. In her work with Rewilding Argentina, Olivia will work closely with other with other scientists (both American and Argentine), ranchers and local communities to promote human-wildlife coexistence and well-being in a recovering Patagonian landscape. Outside of her research, Olivia is passionate about making conservation science more inclusive and collaborative, especially when it is international.

Johns Hopkins University  MS: Environmental Studies
University of Virginia  BA: Foreign Affairs

ofeldman (at) ucdavis.edu


Emily Leonhardt, PhD candidate

Emily’s research interests revolve around topics relevant to wildlife management and conservation, particularly wildlife space use and movement ecology.  In collaboration with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, she will be studying mule deer migration in the Sierra Nevada with a focus on behavioral plasticity and conservation prioritization.

University of Montana  BS: Wildlife Biology, BA: Math

eleonhardt (at) ucdavis.edu


Megan McDaniels, PhD student

Megan is excited to investigate how wildlife behaviors and interactions influence and are influenced by population and community-level processes, particularly in working landscapes and during ecological disturbances. She seeks to apply her findings to on-the-ground conservation issues through active engagement with local communities and policymakers. She has a background in international wildlife research, technology, and conservation, with much of her work focused on protected areas and rangeland systems in the U.S. and East Africa. Megan is also passionate about supporting equity, diversity, and collaboration within the conservation field and international research, and sustainable development that emphasizes the wellbeing and agency of both people and wildlife.

University of Virginia  BS: Environmental Science, BA: Global Studies - Environments and Sustainability, Minor: Ecological and Biological Conservation

mmcdaniels (at) ucdavis.edu


Ishana Shukla, PhD student

Ishana's research focuses on how lethal and non-lethal human disturbance impacts mammalian wildlife communities, and what we can do to remedy those impacts. Specifically, her PhD examines the complexity of apex predator reintroduction and recovery in a human-dominated world. Along with academia, Ishana is committed to DEI efforts in ecology and conservation, and takes an active stance in fostering underrepresented voices.

University of Victoria  MS: Geography
University of California, Santa Cruz  BS: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

itshukla (at) ucdavis.edu


Lab Alumni

Undergraduate Researchers

Amida Verhey (2021-2022)
Madison Cornish (2021-2022)
Talia Soalt (2020-2021)

Visiting Researchers

Greta Schmidt (SDSU joint doctoral program; 2021-2022)