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Rebecca O’Brien

IGC FELLOW    |   Global Change Center

Ph.D. Student  •  Fish and Wildlife Conservation

Research Interests: Behavioral ecology, wildlife biology, science communication, landowner relations, sensory ecology

Advisor: Drs. William Hopkins and Ashley Dayer  •  CV 


Becca is a PhD student in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation being co-advised by Dr. Bill Hopkins and Dr. Ashley Dayer. Her research has 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 behaviors.

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 excited to be returning to conservation-based research and is thrilled to be part of the IGC community.  She is a strong believer in the importance of integrating social, political, and ecological sciences to achieve conservation goals, and she looks forward to learning the necessary skills to accomplish this goal through her participation in the IGC program.