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Gabrielle Ripa

IGC FELLOW    |   Global Change Center

Ph.D. Student  •  Plant and Environmental Sciences

Advisors : Dr. Jacob Barney and Dr. Leighton Reid

Research Interests: Wildlife habitat and management, anthropogenic impacts on native communities  •  Personal Site

IGC Fellow

Gabrielle began her PhD program at Virginia Tech in January 2023. Throughout her previous research experiences and her current research, she has fostered an interest in applied ecology. More specifically, she is interested in studying anthropogenic impacts, such as urbanization, fragmentation, and the spread of invasive species, on native plant and animal communities. 

As an undergraduate at Auburn University, Gabrielle sought out research opportunities and received an undergraduate research fellowship to study the effects of Chinese privet on ground-dwelling herpetofauna communities in bottomland hardwood forests. This initial research project sparked her passion for herpetofauna and native plant communities. Gabrielle’s experience with native vegetation led her to Mississippi State University where she obtained a master’s degree in Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture. Her thesis there focused on the vegetation and nutritional changes to the plant community after 20-years of white-tailed deer exclusion. Both her undergraduate and master’s research projects helped her to refine her research focus towards native communities and the anthropogenic impacts that threaten them.

As a PhD student at Virginia Tech, Gabrielle studies non-native plant invasion of stream restoration projects in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the resulting impacts to the soundscape (i.e., the sum of all sounds in the environment). With her research, she plans to provide recommendations to stream restoration practitioners on how to limit establishment of non-native plants on stream restoration projects. Additionally, she will be investigating whether restoration or invasion influence soundmaking species. Given her fascination with herpetofauna, Gabrielle is especially excited to dive further into the effects of restoration and invasion on the frog community as well to determine how to improve restoration outcomes for anurans. After completion of her degree program, Gabrielle hopes to work as a research ecologist for either a state or federal government agency. Throughout her time with the IGC, she hopes to gain more experience as an effective science communicator and better understand the many facets involved in effecting lasting change for the benefit of biodiversity.