Graduate Students

Hannes Schraft

I received a BSc in Biology at the University of Puerto Rico where I was involved in research on the performance of trilled bird songs. Since then my interests have shifted slightly to the behavior and sensory ecology of reptiles. My dissertation will investigate the resolution and sensitivity of rattlesnake pit organs, and the extent to which rattlesnakes can use leaked thermal information from their prey to make foraging decisions. Specifically, I want to determine whether rattlesnakes make decisions regarding striking prey or ambush site selection based on their prey’s thermal signatures. 


Tara Luckau

I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Arizona in 2006 in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Molecular and Cellular Biology. Since I've spent the last 7 years in a human genetic genealogy laboratory, my background is in molecular techniques, though I've always maintained a passion for conservation. My research in the Clark lab will bridge these two foci into a conservation genetics project. My Master's thesis has two focal questions. Do roads act as barriers to movement of lizards? And, if so, might this be due to the dispersal ability (vagility) of a species? I'll be using microsatellite loci to detect genetic structure, if there is any. My study species are the relatively sedentary western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) and the actively foraging whiptail lizards (Aspidoscelis tirgis and Aspidoscelis hyperythra) of San Diego County.


Bree Putman

I am broadly interested in the behavior and ecology of both squamate reptiles and birds. In particular, I am most interested in pit viper behavior. My fascination with snakes developed during my undergraduate schooling at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. There, I worked with Dr. Emily Taylor. I planned and conducted a senior research project examining the effects of sex and body size on the spatial ecology of the northern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus). I after a graduated, I was accepted into the Clark lab as a Ph.D. student in the joint program with SDSU and UC Davis.  My dissertation will investigate predator-prey interactions between rattlesnakes and small mammals, such as California ground squirrels and Mojave Desert kangaroo rats. I also have acquired a recent fascination with the ecological implications of individual behavioral variation of top level predators such as rattlesnakes. Thus, I plan on investigating various aspects of rattlesnake foraging behavior including their responses to prey signaling, fine-scale movement patterns during the foraging season, and how individual variation affects foraging efficiency. To follow my research visit my blog: 


Stephen Rice

I received my B.A. in Biology with concentrations in molecular/cellular and ecology/evolution from UNC Asheville in 2003 and my M.S. in Biology from Old Dominion University in 2011.  I am broadly interested in evolutionary ecology, especially understanding the severity (and possible)  effects of anthropogenic changes on taxa at the current era, and the potential consequences of those changes on the potential evolutionary path of organisms.  My current project is working on a molecular species ID of Peromyscus species for the western U.S. as well as landscape genetics.  My Master's research was evaluating transience in open-habitat rodent populations as it relates to current dogma's of deme and sex/age biased dispersal and philopatry.  Additional areas of interest range from anatomy and physiology to the pharmacological activity of venom components.


Kelly Lion

My research interests lie in conservation ecology, particularly the effects of anthropogenic changes in the landscape on local wildlife. My graduate work includes an evaluation of the genetic structure of two sympatric species of deer mice (Peromyscus), and the role that roads and other landscape features may play in shaping the genetic patterns of these two species.


JP Montagne

I am a Research Coordinator with the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, where I started as a volunteer after completing my undergraduate degree at the University of California, San Diego in 1993. I have been fortunate to work with a variety of exotic and local species, and have developed a strong interest in applying current theories in behavioral ecology to conservation management. My current focus is how animal personality (temperament) can lead to differences in how individuals respond to reintroductions or translocations. In 2011, the San Diego Zoo and San Diego State University began a joint study to create natural nesting habitat for burrowing owls by translocating California ground squirrels into protected areas in San Diego County. My research has focused on whether temperament affected the squirrel’s ability to adapt to the translocation.


Malachi Whitford

Broadly, I am interested in how the behaviors of both predator and prey influence the outcome of predatory interactions. My current research uses in situ  facilitated interactions between rattlesnakes and kangaroo rats, coupled with high-speed videography techniques, to discern whether behaviors expressed during an interaction and/or the morphology of the participants predict the eventual outcome of the interaction.


Grace Freymiller

I am broadly interested in predator-prey systems, and I am more specifically interested in the interactions between herpetofauna and their prey. I am working on several research projects that focus on various aspects of behavior, including thermoregulatory behavior of sidewinders (Crotalus cerastes) as well as an interspecific comparison of evasive behaviors in kangaroo rats (Dipodomys spp.) during simulated snake strikes.


Undergraduate Students

Eliana Moustakas

I am working on a project using genetic tools to quantify kinship patterns in puff adders (Bitis arietans).  This work is being done in collaboration with Dr. Xavier Glaudas. Specifically, I am using microsatellites to determine the relationship of individuals on the Dinokeng game reserve in South Africa.

Lab Alumni

  1. Shannon Hoss

  2. Doctoral student in Clark lab, moved on to position as an environmental consultant working with desert tortoises in the Mojave desert.

  3. Laura Kabes

  4. Masters student in Clark lab, moved on to position of collections manager for herpetology at the San Diego Museum of Natural History.

  5. Frank Santana

  6. Masters student in Clark lab, moved on to research position at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.

  7. Matt Barbour

  8. Masters student in Clark lab, moved on to PhD program at University of British Columbia in Crutsinger lab.

  9. Rey Ayon

  10. Undergraduate student in Clark lab, moved on to PhD program at University of Chicago in the Mateo lab.

  11. Darren Fraser

  12. Undergraduate student in Clark lab, moved on to research position at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory.

  13. Travis Reeder

  14. Undergraduate student in Clark lab, moved on to Masters program in Ecology at Missouri State University in the Mathis lab.

  15. Sean Tangco

  16. Undergraduate student in Clark lab, moved on to Masters program in Anthropology at San Diego State University.

  17. Chelsea Kidwell

  18. Undergraduate student in Clark lab, moved on to graduate school in Molecular and Cellular Biology at University of Washington.

  19. Cici Cates

  20. Undergraduate student in Clark lab, moved on to graduate school at Concordia University in Spring, 2012.