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Sergio Sabat-Bonilla

IGC FELLOW    |   Global Change Center

Ph.D. Student  •  Entomology

Research Interests:  Aquatic macroinvertebrates respones to anthropogenic & environmental stressors, functional traits as predictors of  environmental change

Advisor: Dr. Sally Entrekin


Sergio’s interests include macroinvertebrate ecology and ecological responses to environmental stressors. While earning his bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Central Oklahoma, he worked on a wide range of studies in relation to stressor-related responses. His undergraduate research explored impacts of the invasive Chinese Privet (Ligustrum sinense) within a new growth forest in central Oklahoma, studying the effects of urbanization on Barred Owls (Strix varia), and urbanization impacts to invertebrate community structure within Bromeliads (Guzmania) in Puerto Rico.  After obtaining his B.S., Sergio conducted research on the ecological impact of invasive earthworms on ant-mediated seed dispersal within the forest understory and how this is shaped by the land-use history in northeastern Ohio. 

Sergio received his master’s degree in Biology from Georgia Southern University, where his research focused on community responses of aquatic macroinvertebrates to hydrological variations within experimental wetlands in the coastal plain of Georgia. Now at Virginia Tech, his Ph.D. dissertation project aims to test how effective best management practices (BMPs) have been in remediating the current and legacy impacts of agriculture along the Chesapeake Bay watershed by utilizing gradients of historical land use and BMPs to see how macroinvertebrate communities are responding to these environmental changes.

Throughout his academic career, Sergio has honed research and communication skills by working with colleagues, students and volunteers with a wide range of cultural and scientific backgrounds. Through his experiences growing up in Puerto Rico and then academic endeavors in the United States, he’s attuned to the negative effects that a lack of exposure and understanding of the natural environment can have on the wellbeing of a community, but also inspired by the uplifting power that equity and opportunity within the natural sciences can bestow upon an individual and thus community.

Through the Interfaces of Global Change program, Sergio aspires to broaden his communication skills and contribute his voice, knowledge and passions to build bridges between science and communities, and to expand scientific literacy across marginalized communities.