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Dr. Lauren Maynard

PHD FELLOW ALUMNI    |   Global Change Center

VT Alumni August 2022, Biological Sciences  

Advisor: Dr. Susan Whitehead


Lauren Maynard (she/her/hers) successfully defended her PhD dissertation August 2022.  Her dissertation seminar was titled "Biotic and abiotic mechanisms shaping multi-species interactions”. Maynard worked under Dr. Susan Whitehead in the Department of Biological Sciences and her research focused on the chemical ecology of plant–animal interactions. Lauren currently works for NC State University as the Interdisciplinary Project Launch Director for the N.C. Plant Sciences Initiative. She works with collaborative research teams to launch sponsored projects and transition them to permanent structures

Prior to attending Virginia Tech, Lauren earned a B.S. in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology from North Carolina State University in 2015. During her undergraduate studies, Lauren completed two National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF REU) Internships with the University of Costa Rica and the Smithsonian Institution. After graduation, she traveled while working as a field technician before conducting post-baccalaureate research at Archbold Biological Station in Florida. Her past research topics include invasive species, trophic cascades, sustainable agriculture, and urban greenspaces.

The first part of Lauren’s dissertation research took place at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica, where she conducted an integrative examination of the role of plant secondary metabolites in seed dispersal and fruit defense. Specifically, she and her collaborators provided the first description of the natural variation and ecological role of a diverse group of compounds in a neotropical shrub, Piper sancti-felicis. Her next project examined the role of herbivore-induced plant volatiles on insectivorous bat and bird foraging. To conduct this research, Lauren collaborated with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and worked in farms across Maryland. She hopes the results from this project will inform both wildlife conservation and sustainable farming practices.

Lauren is a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and was an active participant in the American Indian and Indigenous Community Center at Virginia Tech. She helped establish and chaired the IGC Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee. Through the IGC program, she contributed to the local and global community through service and outreach, undergraduate student mentoring, and science communication. 

In the News

IGC Fellow Lauren Maynard receives NSF Non-Academic Research Internship for Graduate Student (INTERN) Award [GCC Blog Mar 2021]

IGC GSO establishes new Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee [GCC Blog May 2021]

Walking a fine line: How chemical diversity in plants facilitates plant-animal interactions [VT News Sept 2020]

Six IGC Fellows awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships [GCC Blog 2019]

Last updated May 2024.