Meet the members of the Mims Lab!


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. 


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!

MJ Farruggia

Mary Jade (MJ) Farruggia is a PhD student in the Mims Lab and an Interfaces of Global Change graduate fellow. She completed her undergraduate degree in ecology at the University of California, San Diego. Prior to joining the lab, she worked on aquatic communities in both marine and freshwater systems in California. MJ is interested in the effect of hydroperiod on communities of amphibians and aquatic invertebrates in ephemeral desert ponds in Southeast Arizona.

MJ occasionally contributes articles to the IUCN Amphibian Specialist Group. Check out her writing here!


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, Virginia, 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 2018.


London Hughes

London Hughes is currently in his junioryear at Virginia Tech and joined the Mims Lab in fall 2017. He is from Roanoke, Virginia, and has been a Hokie his whole life. London is a biology major who plans to go on a pre-med or pre-vet pathway. He is currently volunteering as an undergraduate in Mims Lab and is working with Chloe Moore on a trait database for toads and frogs in the United States. He enjoys all outdoor activities and is helping the Mims Lab contribute to the understanding of freshwaters and their organisms. 

Sabine St. Amour 

Sabine St. Amour is currently a senior at Virginia Tech and joined the lab in fall 2018. She is from Yorktown, Virginia and is a biological science major with a biomedical option. Sabine loves animals and plans to go to veterinary school once she graduates. She is an undergraduate researcher in the Mims Lab. She joined the lab in Spring 2018 and has worked extensively on the anuran trait database, and she'll continue work in the lab in Fall 2018.

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Janhvi Shah is a junior from Manassas, VA and joined the Mims Lab in the Fall of 2018. Janhvi is a biological science major with a minor in chemistry who plans to go on the pre-med track. She is currently working as undergraduate researcher in the lab on the anuran trait database. Janhvi enjoys being a dancer on the VT Dhamaal Garba and Raas Team and volunteering at her local hospital in NOVA. 

Tara Tavakolian

Tara Tavakolian is a junior from Leesburg, Virginia and joined the Mims Lab in the Fall 2018. Tara is a biological sciences major with a biomedical option and plans on going to Dental School. She is currently an Undergraduate Researcher working on the anuran trait database in the Mims Lab. Tara enjoys volunteering at Warm Hearth through her sorority, Sigma Kappa, and raising awareness on Alzheimer’s Research.


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 - Now a MS Student at William & Mary

Noah Wax, VT & Mims Lab Undergraduate Researcher, 2018

Steffany Yamada, Mims Lab Manager, 2017


The Mims Lab @VT!

The Mims Lab @VT!

Inaugural Mims Lab Crew, Fall 2017.

Inaugural Mims Lab Crew, Fall 2017.