My research and conservation work span academic and applied issues in wildlife conservation with a particular focus on freshwater ecosystems and water resources management. I have integrated techniques and scholarship from landscape ecology, population genetics, animal behavior, ornithology, limnology, population viability analysis and statistical modeling to address theoretical and real-world conservation questions. A major interest of mine is the role that water plays as a key intermediary between human social, cultural, and economic systems and ecosystems, and how its proper management may alleviate potential human-wildlife conflict. If you would like to follow my work or connect with me, please feel free to find me on LinkedIn or ResearchGate.

My interests in ecology, ornithology, and wildlife conservation began at Connecticut College, where I received my bachelor’s degree in Ecology working with Dr. Robert Askins, and was an undergraduate research fellow with the Goodwin-Niering Center for Conservation Biology. I then went on to do field research for the National Audubon Society, Archbold Biological Station, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and worked as a shorebird conservation technician for the Trustees of Reservations.

Lei_PictureI completed my Ph.D. in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution at Tufts University as a member of the Reed Research Group and a doctoral fellow in the NSF IGERT program in Water Diplomacy.

During my time at Tufts, I studied the population ecology and conservation of the Hawaiian gallinule (Gallinula galeata sandvicensis), an endangered waterbird endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. This work was a cooperative endeavor with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey and Hawai’i’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife to provide empirical research to support on-the-ground conservation. As a doctoral fellow in the Water Diplomacy IGERT, I studied the role of ecologists and ecological information in the complex decision-making of integrated water resources management and transboundary water conflicts. I worked with colleagues from the Water Diplomacy group to develop an interdisciplinary framework to interface between freshwater ecological concepts like flow-response relationships and the stakeholder-based approach of integrated water resources management.

After completing my Ph.D., I spent a year as a Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholar at Doñana Biological Station in Seville, Spain, where I studied the effects of rice field flooding on the behavior and space use of migratory waterbirds. I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at Flathead Lake Biological Station in Polson, Montana, working in the conservation genetics lab with Professors Brian Hand and Gordon Luikart. We are developing a collaborative network and support tools to integrate national-level eDNA databases and remotely-sensed data to predict the spread of invasive aquatic species under climate change in the American Northwest.

Since 2015, I have acted as the advisory ecologist for the Livable Hawaii Kai Hui, a grassroots cultural and environmental conservation non-profit in eastern Honolulu, Hawai`i. I also formerly worked as a visiting conservation scientist at the Center for Large Landscape Conservation in Bozeman, Montana.

The majority of my free time is devoted to learning about natural history and practicing martial arts (I study Aikido, Muay Thai, Chute Boxe, and Brazilian Jiujitsu). I also have a deep and abiding love for U.S. National Parks and Wildlife Refuges, and have been trying to visit as many as possible in my travels.