Lab Members

Andrea T Kramer (PI): I have been a Conservation Scientist at Chicago Botanic Garden, and adjunct assistant professor at Northwestern University, since 2012, and Director of Restoration Ecology since 2019.

  • I received my PhD from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Ecology and Evolution program in 2009, advised by Mary Ashley, working closely with committee members Kay Havens and Jeremie Fant.
  • I worked as Executive Director of Botanic Gardens Conservation International U.S. from 2008-2012.
  • I worked as a research intern and research assistant at Chicago Botanic Garden from 2000-2003.
  • I received my BA from Macalester College in 2000, advised by Mark Davis and working as a research intern with him at the Cedar Creek LTER site for two summers.


Marcello De Vitis (postdoctoral researcher):  Marcello is working with Kay Havens and me, as well as a collaborator at Ball Horticultural Company, to understand genetic and environmental controls on seed germination in native species of Viola. He is also working with collaborators at Kankakee Sands Preserve to understand what factors may improve the reintroduction of native Viola species to areas that have undergone restoration.

Jacob Zeldin (MS 2017, now Research Ecologist & Micropropagation Coordinator): Jacob’s thesis research investigated functional composition in prairie plant communities and implications for invasion resistance, restoration, and conservation. He currently works to develop micropropagation protocols and manage a microprop lab for native species commonly used in restoration activities to support conservation and ecological research. He is also working on a project to investigate intraspecific variation in functional traits in numerous forb species commonly used in restoration, and supports data analysis and visualization work for numerous other ongoing projects.

Publication: Zeldin, J., Lichtenberger, T., Foxx, A., Williams, E.R., Kramer, A.T. 2020. Intraspecific functional trait structure of restoration-relevant species: implications for restoration seed sourcing. Journal of Applied Ecology

Adrienne Ernst (PhD student): Adrienne’s PhD research focuses on the impact of phylogenetic diversity on invasibility of prairie ecosystems. Much of her research takes place at the Morton Arboretum’s prairie plots.

Matt Evans (MS student): Matt is working with collaborators at the Shedd Aquarium to investigate the restoration of vernal pools in local forest preserves. This blog post explains the background for his research project.

Alexis Balog (MS student): Alexis is working with collaborators at the Forest Preserves of Cook County to test different management approaches for Solidago altissima, an aggressive native species that often displaces other native species, particularly at disturbed sites.


Sam Kilgore (MS 2020): Sam worked with collaborators at Ball Horticultural Company to investigate the seed ecology of native Viola species. The goal is to understand germination and storage requirements for these important native species so they can be more easily, affordably, and effectively incorporated in restoration activities.

Taran Lichtenberger (MS 2020): Taran investigated the impact of genotypic and functional trait diversity on productivity in a priority restoration forb species (Machaeranthera canescens).  Taran is now the Budburst Community Engagement Manager.

Katie Kucera (MS 2020): Katie worked with partners at the USDA Forest Service and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to characterize genetic changes in the production of multi-source seed lots in Penstemon pachyphyllus in the Great Basin, USA.

Alicia Foxx (MS 2014, PhD 2020): Alicia’s MS and PhD research focused on plant coexistence and genetic variation and phenotypic plasticity in root functional traits within species, with applications to restoration ecology. Her study species include priority restoration forb species native to the Colorado Plateau.

Nathan Lamb (MS 2018): Nathan’s research identified low restoration potential of soil seed banks in buckthorn-invaded oak woodlands in forest preserves of the Chicago region. After working as Assistant Director and Curator at the Heronswood Garden on Bainbridge Island, WA, Nathan moved back to Rhode Island and owns his own business, Gardening + Ecology.

Evelyn Williams (post-doc and adjunct conservation scientist 2015-2018): Evelyn is interested in genetic diversity at multiple scales. With Dr Kramer, Jacob Zeldin, and Taran Lichtenberger, she looks at the impact of intra-specific genetic diversity on biomass using plants from the Colorado Plateau. She also currently works on phylogenetic ecology, specifically using phylogenetic information to improve restoration outcomes in tallgrass prairies. She has also worked on the systematics of Botrychium (Ophioglossceae) ferns, population genetics of the gypsophile shrub Lepidospartum burgessii (Asteraceae), and biogeography of the genus Artocarpus (Moraceae). You can find more information about her work on ResearchGate (

Abbey White (MS 2017, co-advised with Jeremie Fant): Abbey’s research focused on assessing capacity of the US native plant industry to support the restoration of species diversity. This included developing a nationwide dataset of vendors and the native plants they sell. She also investigated the conservation genetics of a rare thistle species endemic to gravel hill prairies in the Chicago region (Cirsium hillii). Publication: White, A., J.B. Fant, K. Havens, M. Skinner, and AT. Kramer (2018) Restoring species diversity: assessing capacity in the US native plant industry. Restoration Ecology  26(4): 605–611. Abbey is now the on-site naturalist at Forest Bluff School.

Alex Seglias (MS 2017): Alex investigated the impact of phylogeny and source climate on seed dormancy and germination in restoration-relevant forb species, as well as how storage impacts dormancy behavior in these species. Publication: Seglias, A., A. Bilge, E. Williams, and A. T. Kramer. 2018. Phylogeny and source climate impact seed dormancy and germination of restoration-relevant forb species. PLoS ONE . Alex is now a seed conservation researcher at Denver Botanic Gardens.

Chris Woolridge (MS 2017, co-advised with Jeremie Fant): Chris investigated appropriate seed sourcing for ecological restoration in light of climate change. He conducted a common garden experiment comparing the fitness of five tallgrass prairie species among commercial sources across a latitudinal gradient. Chris is now the Garden’s Conservation and Land Management Internship Program Assistant.

Adrienne Basey St. Clair (MS 2015, co-advised with JF): Working with collaborators at the Institute for Applied Ecology and the University of Washington, Adrienne investigated changes in genetic diversity when a wild plant is brought into cultivation to create multi-source seed lots for reintroduction.  Her study species was golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta), a threatened species native to the prairies of western Oregon and Washington, which is being used in number of reintroductions. Publications: Basey, A. C., J. B. Fant, and A. T. Kramer. 2015. Producing native plant materials for restoration: ten rules to collect and maintain genetic diversity. Native Plants Journal 16:37-53. AND St. Clair, A.B., Dunwiddie, P.W., Fant, J.B., Kaye, T.N., Kramer, A.T. (2020). Mixing source populations increases genetic diversity of restored rare plant populations. Restoration Ecology, online early. Adrienne is now assistant plant materials scientist at Portland Metro’s Native Plant Center

Nora Talkington (MS 2015, research assistant 2015-2016): Nora investigated trait variation between populations of Sporobolus airoides and implications for restoring invaded grasslands. She also worked as a research assistant, helping to build the Colorado Plateau Restoration Outcomes dataset. Nora now works as the Navajo Natural Heritage Program Botanist in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Maggie Eshleman (MS 2015): Maggie investigated intraspecific variation in early life history characteristics of native Colorado Plateau forb species. As a part of this she worked with REU student Lisa Hintz on a summer research project investigating when seed sourcing matters on the Colorado Plateau. Publication: Hintz, L., A. Foxx, M. Eshleman, T. E. Wood, and A. T. Kramer. 2016. Population differentiation in early life history traits of Cleome lutea var. lutea in the Intermountain West. Western North American Naturalist 76:6-17. Maggie now works as a restoration scientist with the Wyoming chapter of The Nature Conservancy.