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Masters Students


Alex Garretson

Alex graduated from Virginia Tech with a BS in Wildlife Sciences working in Dr. Carola Haas’ Ecology Lab where he worked on a project evaluating long-term effects of different timber harvesting techniques on Appalachian salamander populations. Some of his other work has included creating fatality estimates from wind farms for migrating bat populations in eastern Texas, collecting biometric data on nesting sea turtles, and coordinating fecal collection surveys for a primate microbiome study in Equatorial Guinea. In addition to research, he is a science educator working at the American Museum of Natural History, coordinating the care for the live animal collection for Education and teaching classes.

Alex joined the Carnaval Lab as a Master’s student in the Fall of 2018. He is broadly interested in how landscape patterns affect genomic diversity and gene flow in populations of herpetofauna. He hopes to integrate remote sensing data, species distribution models, and genomic datasets to better understand the biogeographic history and current population structure of Atlantic Forest species.


Bruce Bell

James “Bruce” Bell calls himself a forest ecologist, broadly interested in how forested landscapes work, especially in the tropics. He has graduate training in environmental management from Duke University, focussing on conservation science and management and over 10 years of experience in land management and environmental education, mostly in Brazil. He has expertise in GIS and remote sensing tools and has used these tools in a variety of contexts throughout his career. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Biology with Dr. Ana Carnaval at City College and aims to continue research through a PhD. His research interests include the role of biodiversity in ecosystem function, remote sensing of tropical forests, and landscape change dynamics and modeling. He’d like to pursue a career in research at a government or NGO concerned with advancing policy on the world’s forests as well as teach science. He enjoys cycling, adventure racing, skiing, good food, and spending time with his wife and son outdoors. 


Leyla Hernandez


Leyla joined the Carnaval lab as an undergraduate on January 2015. She initially studied the phylogeography of Dendropsophus minutus frogs in Brazil, testing for correlations between genetic structure and frog skin microbiomes.


Now a Master’s student in the lab, Leyla is investigating the dispersal and range expansion of the exotic lizard Anolis porcatus in southeastern Brazil, where this Cuban species was introduced. She is interested in the ecological effects of this introduction, and in how niche differences, potential for range expansion, and interactions with native lizards will affect the potential for establishment of Anolis porcatus in Brazil.

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