I received my B.A. in Biology from the University of Mississippi in 1999 where I studied marine natural products chemistry and chemical ecology. In 2006, I received my Ph.D. from Georgia Tech under the direction of Mark Hay with a dissertation focused on the interactive roles of herbivores and productivity in structuring coral reef communities. After my Ph.D., I spent two years as the Brown Post-doctoral Fellow in Melinda Smith's lab at Yale University where I worked on the interactions of herbivory, fire, and productivity in driving the ecology of African savannas. I was an Assistant Professor at Florida International University 2008-2015 before moving to UC Santa Barbara.
The Burkepile Lab focuses on questions that provide fundamental understanding about the ecology of communities and ecosystems while also informing the conservation and restoration of these systems. Four themes define our lab’s current work: (1) how exploitation of consumers and loss of consumer biodiversity impacts ecosystem function, (2) how predation risk affects herbivore distribution and their impact on plant communities, (3) how anthropogenic and consumer-derived nutrients impacts community dynamics and disease, and (4) how global change alters consumer-prey interactions. Many of these themes span both marine and terrestrial ecosystems, although coral reefs are our main focus. Our most productive research occurs when these themes interact to address how multiple anthropogenic forces impact community dynamics and ecosystem function.