Meet the members of the Mims Lab!

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Principal Investigator


Meryl C. Mims, PhD

Meryl Mims is an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech. She is also an affiliated faculty member with VT's Global Change Center. Meryl completed her Master's (2010) and PhD (2015) at the University of Washington in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. She then served as a Mendenhall Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the U.S. Geological Survey in Corvallis, Oregon, before joining the faculty at Virginia Tech. 


Postdoctoral researchers

Dr. Valerie Buxton


Dr. Val Buxton is a postdoctoral research associate in the Mims lab as of March 2019. Her research interests include amphibian and avian ecology, behavioral ecology, landscape ecology, and conservation. She received her M.S. (2014) and Ph.D. (2017) from the University of Illinois. Her dissertation research examined how information from conspecifics and predators influences the habitat selection decisions of anurans. Most recently, Val worked as a research scientist at a non-profit conservation center in upstate New York and as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Illinois. Learn more about her research here!


Graduate Students


Chloe Moore

Chloe Moore is a PhD student in the lab and an Interfaces of Global Change graduate fellow. She is broadly interested in the landscape genomics of amphibians and multispecies inference. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Science at the University of Georgia in 2015. While in undergrad she researched the effects of land cover on hellbender presence detected using environmental DNA. Prior to joining the lab as a technician in 2017, Chloe worked and researched in a variety of fields, including a national laboratory in Long Island, NY and a national wildlife refuge in Tallahassee, FL. She had the opportunity to do a range of things from assisting the surgery of a red wolf to surveying for tiger salamanders in frozen lakes.

Sam Silknetter

Sam Silknetter is a new PhD student joining the Mims Lab in January 2019. His research will be part of the NSF funded StreamCLIMES project, a collaborative team whose goal is to investigate how drying affects stream ecosystems in different climates across the southern United States. Specifically, he will be using landscape genetics/genomics to understand how aquatic invertebrates respond to stream drying. Sam received a B.S. in Ecology at Susquehanna University in 2014, where his undergraduate research focused on the response of fish and benthic macroinvertebrate taxa to severe flooding. Sam then worked for an environmental consulting firm focused on wetland conservation and herpetology before pursuing his M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology at Clemson University. His Master’s research focused on positive species interactions in both fisheries and broader freshwater systems. He’s excited to settle in to Blacksburg and take advantage of all it has to offer!


Elizabeth Shadle

Elizabeth Shadle is a Master’s student in the Mims Lab. She completed her undergraduate degree in Wildlife and Conservation Biology at the University of Rhode Island in 2016. While in undergrad she researched amphibian and reptile roadkill spatial patterns across the landscape of Colonial National Historical Park. Prior to joining the lab, Elizabeth worked on research at Archbold Biological Station in Florida scrublands on various wetland projects. She has worked for different universities and research centers to gain a wide variety of experience including, insect identification, herpetofauna tracking, public outreach and outdoor education.


Undergraduate Researchers


Jacob Helmann

Jacob Helmann is a sophomore from Sterling, VA, and joined the Mims Lab in Fall 2017. Jacob is a biology major and is interested in pursuing graduate work via a MD/PhD program. He is currently serving as an undergraduate researcher in the Mims Lab, contributing to the development of a trait database for toads and frogs in the United States. He enjoys volunteering through hospice, tutoring, and other local programs and will continue active research in the Mims Lab through 2019.

Alexis “AJ” Jackson

Alexis Jackson (AJ) is a junior from Richmond, VA, and joined the Mims Lab in Spring 2019. AJ is a biological sciences major who primarily is interested in freshwater biology and is currently working with Chloe and Elizabeth on their research projects.  She eventually wants to become a researcher and professor. In her free time she enjoys YouTube videos, walking on trails and hiking. 


Mackenzi Hallmark

Mackenzi Hallmark is a junior from Stafford, VA, and joined the Mims Lab in Spring 2019. She is a biology major who plans to pursue a career in ecological research and conservation. As a lover of the outdoors, Mackenzi is an avid hiker and enjoys volunteering with various trail rehabilitation initiatives along the Appalachian Trail. She is currently helping with field and experimental research in the Mims Lab.


Lab Alumni

Dr. Jen Smith: Mims Lab Postdoc, 2018 - Now an Assistant Professor at UTSA

Ye Chen: VT & Mims Lab Undergraduate Researcher & Coding Wizard, 2017-2018 - Also a graduate of William & Mary, MS degree

Kara Hall, Sabine St. Amour: VT & Mims Lab Undergrad Researchers, 2019

London Hughes, Janhvi Shah, Tara Tavakolian, and Noah Wax: VT & Mims Lab Undergraduate Researchers, 2018

Steffany Yamada: Mims Lab Manager, 2017