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Meet the Lab

Current Students
Utah Valley University

Undergraduate Students


Chloe Loveland
Fall 2021-Present


Tessa Black
Summer 2022-Present

Project Title: How Do Environmental Stressors Affect Mutualistic Relationships in Thatch Ants


Chloe is an NSF STEM Biology Scholar at Utah Valley University working towards her BS in Biology. Her primary interests lie in earth, ocean, and atmospheric sciences–particularly as it applies to environmental sustainability. She also has interests in the aquatic ecosystems and ice-ocean-climate interactions. Following her undergraduate program, her goal is to pursue a graduate degree relating to conservation science and sustainable ecosystems. 

Project: Maternal effects on consistency in offspring behavior

Tessa is a junior at Utah Valley University pursuing a B.S. in Biology. Her interests are primarily in evolutionary biology and how evolutionary histories affect species’ current reactions to the environment. After graduating, she hopes to attend medical school and potentially pursue a PhD. She is currently a teaching assistant for BIOL 1010 and a medical assistant in primary care.  

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Spencer Smith
Spring 2023-Present

Project: Ant microbiome comparison within thatch ants to analyze bacterial influence on behavior

I am a senior at Utah Valley University, pursuing a B.S. in Biology while working towards attending medical school after graduation. Some of my educational pursuits while at UVU include being the president of UVU's Pre-Students of Osteopathic Medical Association Club, volunteering with the UVU athletic training department physicians and athletes, co-founding a medical humanitarian service club at UVU called The Medical Brigades at UVU, and interning with a local non-profit organization called Encircle to provide mental health resources, safe spaces, and support to LGBTQ+ youth, adults, and their families! My personal interests include walking & hiking with my wife and dog, skiing, eating yummy food, and traveling!

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Christina Deaver
Fall 2023-Present

Project: Investigating novel shipside feeding behavior in wild bottlenose dolphins in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina


Macy Reed
Fall 2023-Present

Project: Investigating how artificla light at night affects pollinator behavior and plant density in night blooming plants.

Lainey Smith
Spring 2024-Present

Project: Dorsal fin photo idetiifcation of wild bottlenose dolphins in Charleston Harbor, SC 

Project: Investigating how religiosity and politics affects acceptance of scientific concepts

Kanon Black
Fall 2023-Present

Previous Students
Utah Valley University

Undergraduate Students


Kadin Crosby
Fall 2021-Spring 2022

Kadin recently graduated from Utah Valley University, earning his B.S. in Biology and minoring in Chemistry. His current academic interests range from biological mechanisms pertaining to cell signaling on a molecular level to aquatic diversity of aquatic invertebrate's eyes. Kadin plans on furthering his education by pursuing a graduate degree in vision science and in optometry. In addition, Kadin was a Teaching Assistant for BIOL 1010 Non-Majors Biology.

Caitlin Shirts
Spring 2022

Caitlin recently graduated with a B.S. in Biology from UVU after earning an MFA in Theater. In the Cusick lab, she focuses on data analysis in the study of evolutionary biology. Her writing has appeared STAT and the National Association of Science Writers Student Newsroom.

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Alissa Hewitt
Fall 2022-Summer 2023

Project: Investigating gut microbiome impact on behavior

Alissa is a Senior at Utah Valley University working towards her BS in Biology. Her primary interests lie in conservation biology and ecology. Following graduation she plans to pursue a PHD in hopes of testing ways that humans and wildlife can cohabitate better and have more sustainable health. In the past she has helped with a student run experiment looking for Nicotine in the Jordan River with the results being presented at the American Chemical Society in the Spring of 2021


Jon Lund
Fall 2022-Summer 2023

Project: Investigating student views and acceptance of science ideas.

Jon is currently investigating factors that influence student acceptance of scientific theories and ideas, which are often classified as "politicized' or "controversional," including acceptance of Evolution, Climate Change and Vaccine use.


Lia Rabellino
Fall 2022-Summer 2023

Project: Investigating and monitoring light pollution in SLC.

Lia is a Integrated Studies Major at UVU who will be graduating in Spring 2023. Lia' Capstone project involves developing a protocol to monitor artificial light around the Great Salt Lake.


Naghieli Gomez
Summer 2023

Naghieli is currently a senior at Utah Valley University working towards her B.S. in Biology. She is primarily interested in the ecological and zoological aspects of science. She hopes to pursue a career in wildlife conservation by providing reliable scientific data that can impact and promote effective decision making for conservation.  She is currently working on analyzing dolphin behavior in response to dredging in the Charleston Harbor. 

Indiana University

Undergraduate DIS Students


Luke Gohmann
Fall 2019-2023

Project Title: Effects of seasonal cues, stress and microbiome on social behavior of non-responders”

Honors Thesis:
"Effects of maternal microbiome manipulation and stress on prefrontal cortex in adult offspring in Siberian Hamsters (Phodopus sungorus)"

Luke is a Biology major at IU and has been assisting in the Demas Lab since Fall 2019. Luke has worked on many projects and will be conducting an honors thesis studying the "Effects of maternal microbiome manipulation and stress on prefrontal cortex in adult offspring in Siberian Hamsters (Phodopus sungorus)"


Kate Adaniya
Fall 2019-Spring 2021

Project Title: Assessing Consistency in Individual Aggression During Pubertal Transitions

Kate is pursuing a B.S. in Human Biology with a concentration in Human Health and Disease. Kate conducted an independent research project investigating aggressive behavior in hamsters, specifically whether individuals display consistency in aggression as juveniles and into adulthood. Kate will be attending medical school after she graduates.

Florida State University

Undergraduate DIS Students

Abigail Kreuser

Fall 2016-Spring 2017

Michelle Martin

Fall 2016

Miguel De Villa

Spring 2014-Summer 2014

Project Title: Task partitioning or division of labor? Patterns of nest maintenance in a cooperatively breeding bird

Project Title: Growth and development of brown-headed nuthatch chicks

Project Title: Quality or Quantity? Provisioning differences in the cooperatively breeding brown-headed nuthatch

Project Title:The relationship between breeder and helper age and parental effort in a cooperatively breeding species, the brown-headed nuthatch

Field Technicians

Amy Janik

Spring 2017

Amy was my field technician for the spring 2017 field season. In addition to assisting me collect data for my dissertation, Amy collected her own data for her independent project investigating individual variation in adult aggression in response to a snake model. Amy completed her Master's at Western Michigan University

Simon Fitz-William

Spring 2016

Simon was my field technician for the spring 2016 field season.

Juan Botero

Spring 2015

Juan was my field technician for the spring 2015 field season. In addition to assisting me with data collection during a particularly challenging field season, Juan conducted an independent project investigating how helpers contribute to breeders during the incubation stage of reproduction. Juan received his master's degree at the College of William and Mary.

Emma Schlatter

Spring 2014

Emma was my field technician for the spring 2014 field season.

Undergraduate Research Technicians and Volunteers

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Brandy Shea 

ResearchTechnician, Fall 2017-Spring 2018

Brandy assisted with our research on alloparental care and fledging behavior of brown-headed nuthatches. She graduated from Florida State University in May 2018 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Science and a minor in Chemistry.

Cesar Estien

Volunteer, Spring 2018

Cesar assisted with our research on chick fledging behavior. Cesar will be starting his PhD at UC Berkeley Fall 2021! Check out more about Cesar here!

Stasia Pietraszun

Volunteer, Spring 2018

Veronica Sitaras

Volunteer, Fall 2017

Austin (Mark) Halperin

Field Volunteer, Spring 2016

Nicholas Hanley

Field Volunteer, Spring 2015

Bethany Williams

Field Volunteer, Spring 2014

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