My work focuses on how species interactions and animal behaviors like habitat selection and dispersal modulate the impacts of human activities on wildlife populations. I direct much of my research effort toward freshwater wetland ecosystems because of their great diversity, complexity, abundant ecosystem service value, and role as a primary nexus between human activities and the environment. In particular, I study the diverse ways by which human social, cultural, and economic systems impact ecosystems through their management of freshwater resources. If you would like to follow my work or connect with me, please feel free to find me on LinkedIn or ResearchGate.

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.

My research in the Biology department at Tufts  integrated mark-recapture studies, radio telemetry, and population genetics to understand the movement and landscape ecology of the Hawaiian gallinule (Gallinula galeata sandvicensis), an endangered, endemic Hawaiian waterbird. I also synthesized information on the survival and reproductive vital rates of this subspecies, and estimated the extent and distribution of loss of its wetland habitats. Finally, I combined this detailed knowledge of its natural history into quantitative, predictive models of population viability and extinction risk.

As a Water Diplomacy Fellow, I worked to enhance the role that ecologists and ecological science play in decision-making in complex water management systems. Because water is an essential, dynamic, and increasingly limited resource, and both societal (human) and natural (ecological) domains are tied closely to one another through the nexus of water, new interdisciplinary frameworks are required to manage increasingly complex water management issues in the 21st century. My research presents new conceptual frameworks for integrating ecological information in existing water management decision making processes.

I am currently a Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholar working at the Doñana Biological Station in Seville, Spain, where I am studying the effects of rice field flooding on the behavior and space use of migratory waterbirds.

I also work as the advisory ecologist for the Livable Hawaii Kai Hui, a grassroots cultural and environmental conservation non-profit in eastern Honolulu, Hawai`i, and 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.