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Principal Investigator

Stephen Tonsor


Stephen J. Tonsor, Ph.D.

tonsor [at] pitt [dot] edu

Read more about Steve on his U Pitt faculty page.



Postdoctoral Researcher

Alison HaleAlison Hale, Ph.D.

anm116 [at] pitt [dot] edu

How can we manage natural resources in an environmentally responsible way? As an ecologist, this question provides the central theme for my varied research interests. In my past (and still on-going) work, I tested the mutualism disruption hypothesis for invasion to assess the mechanisms underpinning the success of garlic mustard, a widespread forest invader throughout the eastern United States. In my current work as a postdoctoral researcher in the Tonsor lab, I am investigating the effect of underground bituminous coal mining on streams and wetlands. Through our analysis of stream flows and biological health, we hope to provide data that will aid in the protection of Pennsylvania’s aquatic resources.

Graduate Researcher

Nana ZhangNana Zhang

naz19 [at] pitt [dot] edu

I am a second year graduate student and am very interested in plants. My previous research is on peonies, very famous and beautiful flowers that originate from China. This year, my current focus is mainly on genetic variation in the heat shock protein (Athsp101) research in Arabidopsis. I am interested in doing work to perfect the ongoing ELISA-based HSP assay, and testing the expression of Hsp101 in different genotypes of Arabidopsis so that we can have a clearer understanding of their Hsp101 differences and their functional consequences. I am looking forward to this new work and enjoying a new life in the USA!


Keith GarmireKeith Garmire

kmgarmire [at] gmail [dot] com

I am a recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, where I pursued a Bachelor’s of Science, majoring in Ecology and Evolution, along with a Certification in Geographical Information Systems (GIS). I am currently the Research Specialist for the multi-department Act 54 project that the university is researching in conjunction with the Pennsylvania DEP.


Tim Park

tsp14 [at] pitt [dot] edu

I graduated from the University of Virginia in 2011 with a B.A. in Biology and a Specialization in Environmental and Biological Conservation. I am currently a Research Specialist in the Tonsor Lab and hope to pursue a graduate education in Evolution and Ecology.


Undergraduate Researcher

Kaitlin Piper

knp21 [at] pitt [dot] edu

I am a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh pursuing a degree in microbiology.  Also, I am on the Pre-Med track as I wish to become a doctor specializing in emergency medicine.  Currently, I am working on the biology portion of the Act 54 project that addresses stream quality in Pennsylvania through the study of aquatic invertebrates.


Josh Nguyen

jdn22 [at] pitt [dot] edu

I am a junior at the University of Pittsburgh studying Biology with a focus on Ecology & Evolution. I am also on the pre-dental track and hope to become a dentist in the near future. Currently, I am studying the relationship between root growth and the upregulation of hsp101 in Arabidopsis thaliana.



Philip Carlucci

pmc27 [at] pitt [dot] edu

I am a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh studying biology and
neuroscience.  After graduation I plan on going to medical school with the
hopes of one day becoming a dermatologist.  I am currently working on the
association between hsp101 and allocation to root mass in Arabidopsis.



Natalie SettlesNatalie Settles, M.F.A. – Artist in Residence

studio [at] nataliesettles [dot] com


I am an artist engaged with the lab in a social sculpture based on evolutionary theory—putting into direct contact the two divergent fields of art an science in such a way that they exert a force on one another in order to reshape both practices. To that end, my studio practice is based in the lab alongside the daily practice of research—creating a clash of activities and ideas aimed at creating points of dissonance, synthesis, and stereo vision for both art and science.


Lab Alumni:

  • Kali Theis – Research Specialist
  • Victoria Muntean – undergraduate
  • Grace Noble – undergraduate
  • Marnin Wolfe
  • Cody Wisniewski – undergraduate, ’13
  • Lisa Rain, undergraduate, ’12
  • Brian Belsterling – undergraduate, ’12
  • Jesse Razewski – undergraduate, ’12
  • John R. Paul (’08)
  • Eric Earley (’07)
  • Bronson Ingland (’07)
  • Toby Liss (’07)
  • Robert Schaeffer (’07)
  • Jacob Winkler (’07)
  • Imene Boumaza (’06)
  • April Hansgate (’05)
  • Erin Becker (’05)
  • Matt Simon
  • Tim Helbig
  • Jenise Brown
  • Daniel Yarnot
  • Shelley Valle
  • Caitlin Weber
  • Chris Fisher
  • Jenn Wig
  • Andrea Glassmire
  • Jason Zlotnicki