Lab Members

Ricardo Holdo

Associate Professor and Odum Chair

Phone:       (706) 542-0075
Office:        Ecology 188B
Lab:    Ecology 188A and 175A



Jules NeSmith, M.Sc.

Research Professional, Laboratory Manager


Jules is currently working on launching a series of experiments at the Wits Rural Facility in South Africa. Experimental objectives include uncovering tree recruitment and performance responses to grass removal over time, and the influence of varied rainfall regimes on tree – grass  dominance and performance across demographic stages. She is also investigating resprouting characteristics of savanna tree species and ecophysiological functional trait relationships of savanna trees and grasses.

Jules has degrees in Interdisciplinary Ecology (M.Sc.) and Restoration Ecology (B.S.) and her previous work focused on the interactive effects of drought and grass invasion on the performance of slash, loblolly, and longleaf pine trees. She enjoys cycling, trying new food, traveling abroad, and downtime with her pup Birdie.



Michael Belovitch, M.Sc.

Ph.D. Student

Michael is a PhD student working on savanna tree and grass responses to water stress. He has a broad range of research interests, from individual plant physiology, to inter-specific interactions, to modeling ecosystem level processes to be used in applied contexts. Michael’s past research at the Warnell School of Forestry (UGA) focused on ecohydrology within longleaf pine savannas of south Georgia. His project quantified the impact of hydraulic redistribution to the plant communities of this ecosystem and how access to groundwater differs between tree species. In his free time, Michael enjoys hiking, playing board games, and making pottery at Athens’ local studio.



Cece Working

Ph.D. Student

Cece (co-advised by Vanessa Ezenwa) is interested in infectious disease and community ecology. Her research focuses on the role of the wildebeest migration on parasite dynamics in resident host communities in Serengeti. Cece’s past research at Mills College focused on ectoparasite distribution in free living California ground squirrel populations. She also conducted field work as part of the Carrizo Plains Ecosystem Project.



Lucia Sol Mochi

Ph.D. Student, Fullbright Scholar, FAUBA School 

of Agriculture at the University of Buenos Aires

Lucia is a PhD student working on savanna woody encroachment processes. Her research focuses on the role of herbivores and grasses on different demographic aspects of tree populations. Lucia’s past research focused on the effect of cattle grazing on plant species diversity in a protected palm savanna in Entre Rios, Argentina.



Isabel Wargowsky

B.S. Student, CURO Research Assistant, CURO Summer Fellow

Isabel is conducting research on root functional traits in savanna tree and grass species grown under greenhouse conditions. She is primarily focused on characterizing root architecture and xylem vessel anatomy in common South African savanna species.



Nikki Gajjar


B.S. Student, Curo Research Assistant

Niki is an undergraduate student working to investigate rooting traits in savanna tree and grass species. She is using open-source imaging software to analyze root scans of South African species grown in a UGA greenhouse to discern branching patterns, diameter distributions, and specific root lengths.





Lab Alumni

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Annabelle Barr (undergraduate research assistant)


Undergraduate Research Volunteers

Juliet Eden (B.A. Student, undergraduate research volunteer)

Laura Lenz (B.A. Student, undergraduate research volunteer)

Brooke Amerson (undergraduate research volunteer)

Kathryn King (undergraduate research volunteer)