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Dr. Rebecca O’Brien

IGC FELLOW  ALUMNI |   Global Change Center

VT Alumni July 2023,  Fish and Wildlife Conservation

Advisor: Drs. William Hopkins and Ashley Dayer  •  CV


IGC Fellow Rebecca O'Brien successfully defended her PhD dissertation in July of 2023. Dr. O'Brien is now working for a non-profit in Tennessee that specializes in native plant seed banking for ecological restoration.

While at Virginia Tech Becca was a PhD student in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation  co-advised by Dr. Bill Hopkins and Dr. Ashley Dayer. Her research had both social and ecological components. The social aspect of her research focuses on maximizing the effectiveness of landowner engagement while her ecological research studies hellbender parental care behavior. 

Becca completed her undergraduate education at Colorado College where she studied environmental science and performed undergraduate research on the population dynamics of ants and aphids in desert yucca communities. She then spent three years as a seasonal wildlife biologist working on projects ranging from invasive trout removal in Yosemite to radio tracking arboreal pit vipers in Hong Kong.

In 2015, she returned to school for her master’s degree at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill working in the lab of Dr. Karin Pfennig. There she studied the causes of sexual signal diversification using the plains spadefoot toad, Spea bombifrons, as a model system. Becca is a strong believer in the importance of integrating social, political, and ecological sciences to achieve conservation goals, and she enjoyed accomplishing this goal through her participation in the IGC program.

Last updated July 2023.