Current Graduate Students

Jason Miller (MS anticipated June 2021, Ecosystem Studies, Environmental Sciences & Policy Program). Jason joined the lab in January 2019. He is studying orchid ecology. He was awarded a Cofrin Research Grant in May 2019.


Current Undergraduate students


Lab alumni: former graduate students

Jacob Pelegrin (MSc, May 2021). Jacob joined the lab in September 2019. He is studying ectomycorrhizal associates of red pine. He was awarded a Cofrin Research Grant in May 2019. He currently has a job with the Wisconsin DNR.

Katie McDonald (MSc December 2018). Katie examined macrofungal diversity at two Cofrin Center for Biodiversity Natural Areas: Penninsula Center Sanctuary (Door County, Wisconsin) and Kingfisher Farm (Manitowoc County, Wisconsin). Her thesis serves as the first fungal biodiversity study of these important natural areas and will provide valuable information for understanding forest ecology, succession, and effects of climate change on fungal biodiversity. As part of her thesis she will document fungal genetic diversity for future generations by depositing the fungal specimens in the UWGB Gary A. Fewless Herbarium. She has already documented new records of hypogeous fungi for Northeast Wisconsin  from Kingfisher Farms (a species of the genus Tuber) and Penninsula Sanctuary (2 Rhizopogon species).



Katie at Kingfisher Farm.
Katie at Kingfisher Farm.

Samantha Nellis (MSc December 2016) Samantha investigated the distribution and composition of nectar-dwelling yeast and bacteria communities in Wisconsin plants. The objectives of her study were to: (1) investigate and describe the microbial community found in the floral nectar of Wisconsin wildflowers, and (2) determine the extent that pollinator species shape the composition and distribution of nectar-dwelling microorganisms and to investigate the potential limitations of microbial dispersal. Samantha is being co-advised by Dr. Lisa Grubisha and Dr. Amy Wolf. I am assisting Samantha with the molecular microbial ecology part of her research.


Matthew Peter (MS September 2015). Matt’s thesis, A comparison of ecological states, restoration potential, and morphological and molecular genotyping between native and exotic Phragmites australis in Door County, WI wetlands, was completed under the direction of Dr. Matthew Dornbush, his thesis advisor. Matthew and I worked on the molecular genotyping of his populations. A description of his thesis research may be found here: Matthew Peter

Matt Peter 2014
Native Phragmites australis blowing in the wind.

Lab Alumni: Former Undergraduate Students  

Natasha Clark (BS Environmental Science May 2020). Natasha joined the lab in Sept 2019. In June 2019 she was awarded an Heirloom plant grant to study wild rice (Zizania spp.). She will use DNA sequencing to identify the species of wild rice present in the bay of Green Bay. She presented a poster on her study at the UW Green Bay Academic Excellence Symposium in May 2020. She was awarded an honorable mention for the Sagar Award for Scientific Writing for her poster.

Megan Richter (BS Biology anticipated May 2021). Megan joined the lab in January 2019. She worked on the Phragmites australis soil microbiome project and the Ridges orchid project.

RM_fielddatacollection2Rebecca Malcore (BS May 2019, double major Biology and Human Biology). She is now in the Human Genetics Ph.D. program at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Rebecca joined the lab Fall 2017. She is working on the Phragmites australis soil microbial community study.

April 2019 Rebecca presents a poster on her Phragmites australis research at the 18th University of Wisconsin Undergraduate Research Symposium (URSCA). For the poster she presented at this symposium, she was awarded the Sager Scholarship for Scientific Writing.

April 2019 Rebecca was selected to present her research at the 16th Annual University of Wisconsin System Research in the Rotunda, Madison, WI

June 2018 Rebecca was awarded the Friends of Peninsula State Park Student Research Grant to study yellow lady slipper orchids.

May 2018 Rebecca was awarded a Cofrin Center for Biodiversity grant to study the fungi associated with coral root orchids at Toft Point.

April 2018 Rebecca presents a poster on her Phragmites haplotype study at the 17th University of Wisconsin Undergraduate Research Symposium (URSCA).

Fall 2017 Rebecca was awarded an Heirloom Plant Undergraduate Research Grant to examine the Phragmites plants found on the DNR Phragmites Adaptive Management Grant. She is using chloroplast sequences to determine what haploptypes of native and exotic Phragmites are present in Green Bay wetlands.


Makayla Swain (BS 2019 Environmental Science) Makayla joined the lab in May 2018 to study conservation genetics of coral root orchids at Toft Point. She was awarded a Cofrin Center for Biodiversity grant to complete this study. In June 2018 Makayla joined our collaborative orchid project with the Ridges Sanctuary and the Smithsonian Ecological Research Center. She is now in a MS program studying the effect of nonnative moose on forest ecosystems at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John’s, Canada.








Learn more about Makayla’s MS thesis research


Maddison Quamme (BS May 2019 Biology/Environmenatl Science) and Jennifer Bahling (BS May 2019, Environmental Science). Jennifer and Maddy joined the lab September 2018 and worked on the Phragmites australis soil microbiome study.

Autumn Ruleau (BS December 2018, Biology). Autumn worked in the lab fall semester 2018 on the agriculture soil projects. Autumn will start law school at the University of Wisconsin Madison fall term.

Lydia Deweese (BS May 2018, Human Biology). Lydia joined the lab in May 2017. She isolated DNA and conducted PCR from soil samples. Lydia spends a lot of time as a star women’s Phoenix volleyball player. Fall 2017 she is completing an independent study in the lab looking at how cultivation techniques affect microbial community composition and biodiversity in corn fields using next generation Illumina DNA sequencing.

Zachary Gates (BS anticipated May 2019, Biology). Zachary joined the lab in May 2017. He spent all summer working on all of the lab’s current projects including participating in orchid surveys and collecting soil samples at the Ridges Sanctuary in Bailey’s Harbor, field sampling in corn fields, processing soil, and numerous DNA isolations and PCR. He also started collecting hypogeous fungi in Wisconsin!

Zachary Gates collecting hypogeous fungi
Zachary Gates collecting hypogeous fung


Bob talks about his orchid conservation research at the Ridges Sanctuary with Chancellor Gary Miller standing by.
Bob talks about his orchid conservation research at the Ridges Sanctuary with Chancellor Gary Miller standing by.

Bob Walker (BS anticipated May 2017; Biology, emphasis in Ecology & Conservation Biology) Bob joined the lab in spring of 2016. He worked on the orchid restoration project at the Ridges Sanctuary in Bailey’s Harbor, WI.






Josh Moyer (BS May 2017; Biology, emphasis in Cellular and Molecular Biology) Josh  worked with Samantha Nellis investigating microbial diversity in nectar since Fall 2015. Starting the summer of 2016 he investigated diversity of agricultural soil microbial communities. He pursued his interests in bioinformatics, while working with Samantha, to develop a tutorial using the Qiime pipeline for future students to use in my lab to analyze Ilumina-generated microbial community DNA sequence data.

Josh Moyer July 2016








Phillip Malchek (BS May 2017; Biology, Ecology and Conservation Biology emphasis). Phillip assisted graduate student Katie McDonald with her fungal biodiversity study during spring semester 2017.

Angela Grimm (BS anticipated May 2019, Environmental Sciences). During Fall semester 2016, Angela collected and identified species of the ectomycorrhizal fungus Suillus using DNA sequencing.

Maxwell Larsen (BS May 2016; Biology, emphasis in Ecology & Conservation Biology) During the summer of 2015 Maxwell collected and identified lichen species in Mahon Woods in the Cofrin Memorial Arboretum.

Some lichens change color in response to certain chemicals.
Some lichens change color in response to certain chemicals.

2 thoughts on “People”

  1. Hi Dr. Grubisha,
    This is Srivathsan, PhD aspirant. I am interested in doing PhD research under your leadership. I am a U.S. Citizen. I did my B.S. Degree at Illinois State University (ISU), and M.S. Degree with Research at Western Illinois University (WIU). I earned a cumulative GPA of 4.00 in my M.S. Degree in Fungal Molecular Ecology along with several accolades for research as well as classes including an award from the Department Chair. My research background encompasses both microbiology, molecular biology, etc. Please tell me whether you are taking students in your lab?

    Best regards,
    Srivathsan Raghavan, M.S., CBA

    1. Hello Srivathsan,
      Unfortunately my department does not currently offer PhD programs. I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.
      Lisa Grubisha

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