August 9th, 2018 was a big day last week for both the Interfaces of Global Change IGEP and the Biology Department at Virginia Tech, as two IGC fellows successfully defended their PhD dissertations with flying colors! Congratulations to both Dr. Tamara Fetters and Dr. Carl Wepking! The Global Change Center community is so proud of all you have accomplished and excited for the endeavors that you will take on next.

Tamara Fetters

Tamara presented her dissertation seminar on Thursday morning in Derring Hall, titled “Phenotypic responses to invasion in the brown anole (Anoles sagrei)”. Her research over the past five years took her to the Bahama Islands, part of the brown anole’s native habitat, and the Southeast US, where the anole’s inhabitance is invasive.

Tamara’s work addressed two questions to broaden the scope of knowledge within the evolutionary biology field:

1. How fast can evolution occur in nature?

2. Can we predict evolutionary patterns?

Carl Wepking

Carl presented his dissertation seminar on Thursday afternoon, titled “Antibiotics administered to cattle affect terrestrial ecosystem processes via manure inputs”. Carl’s research focused on the effects of antibiotics on the environment – specifically, the effects on soils and how antibiotics can influence microbes, which can therefore effect the greater cycling of important nutrients like carbon and nitrogen. Study sites included Virginia Tech’s Kentland Farm in Blacksburg, in addition to coordinating with several cattle farms across the U.S. in order to publish a nationwide study on soil from areas with large cattle presence versus those with none.

Carl will be taking on the role of Executive Director of the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative within the School of Environmental Sustainability at Colorado State University.