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Nate Lemoine

"How hard can it be?"

I received my Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Richmond in 2006. From there, I moved to Pensacola, FL for a year where I worked as an hourly contractor for the EPA’s Office of Research and Development. I then moved to Dauphin Island, AL to study coral reef ecology; I received my Master of Science in Marine Sciences from the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in 2010. Immediately following, I moved to Miami, FL to study coral reef ecology at Florida International University with Dr. Deron Burkepile (now at UCSB). Apparently, the ocean and I just don’t get along, so I switched to terrestrial plant-insect ecology, co-advised by Dr. John Parker at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, MD. In 2015, I received my PhD and moved to Colorado State University for a USDA NIFA postdoctoral fellowship, where I studied the impacts of drought on insect control of grassland nutrient cycling. In 2019, I began as an Assistant Professor at Marquette University.

You can find my life’s work here!

Michelle Budny
-Lab Manager

"Oh, I like science."

I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Environmental Science and Physical Geography, from Carthage College in 2009. As a graduate student at Florida Atlantic University, I studied the leaf gas exchange and water use efficiency of two subtropical wetland species and received my Master of Science degree in 2015. Between my bachelors and masters degrees, I worked as a technician for a broad range of ecological research projects including eDNA surveillance of Asian carp in the Great Lakes basin and the bait trade, vegetation surveys of aquatic plants and tropical rainforest seedlings, and monitoring pine flatwood community recovery after fire. Prior to my current position, I spent four years as a Hydrologic Technician for the USGS Caribbean-Florida Water Science Center measuring stream discharge, salinity, and storm surge events. Thankfully, I returned to the Midwest to join the Lemoine Lab in January 2020.

Sarah Knott
-Lab Technician

“Yo doggie!”

Born and raised in Wisconsin, I have had a passion for the environment since I was a young girl. My family owns a hobby tree farm in Central Wisconsin where my love for trees and the natural world was sparked after wandering the stands of tall pines and running around the forest with the deer. After reading the works of Robin Wall Kimmerer and Suzanne Simard, I realized I could take my excitement about trees and understand how plant communities in the understory can connect and impact them. These ideas fueled me as I went through my undergraduate degree and beyond as I conducted field work in Southeastern Wisconsin on native and invasive plant communities, wanting to learn more about their relationships to natural areas. I received my bachelor’s degree from Marquette University in Environmental Studies and after working field jobs have been offered the wonderful opportunity to come back and work for my alma mater and make a difference once again. Within the Lemoine lab, I will be aiding in laboratory procedures and field work to usher along the research process that includes tracking soil DNA processing, collecting soil, plant, and insect data.

Jennifer Sailor
-Master's Student (Statistics)

“I can’t believe my mom moved to Kansas…”

Originating from the city of fountains, Kansas City, I embarked on an academic journey at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO, earning a Bachelor of Science in Data Science with a minor in Mathematics in 2022. Seeking to deepen my knowledge, I am currently pursuing a Master of Science in Applied Statistics at Marquette University. In April 2023, I joined Lemoine Lab, where I engage in a research project involving modeling 6 species of Lepidoptera in Kruger National Park using publicly available data. My passion for coding, statistics, and interest in nature led me to this fascinating intersection of quantitative ecology. During my leisure time, I enjoy watersports, spending time with family, and tumbling.

Anesti Sotirovski
-Master's Student (Bioinformatics)

“Have you ever eaten a whole bag of cherries?”

I recently received my U.S. citizenship in May 2021. I am first generation, born in Korçë, Albania but my nationality is Macedonian. I speak four languages, including English, Spanish, Macedonian,  and Albanian. I am also a first generation college student, and graduated from Marquette in 2023. I am majoring in Biological Sciences with a minor in professional selling. Some of my interests outside of science include mountain biking, photography, and cooking. Before starting at Marquette, I represented Glenbard East High School at UC Berkeley through the 2018 NSLC program. I joined the Lemoine Lab in the summer of 2021, and will continuing with independent research throughout my time at MU. My project explores factors that impact soil microbial respiration.

Novalee Sweeney
-Soil Microbiology Researcher

“Can we rewatch Lord of the Rings yet?”

 I attend the Milwaukee School of Engineering and will be graduating in Spring 2024 with a major in Biomolecular Engineering and a minor in Chemistry. I grew up in a small Illinois town, Spring Grove, where I met my now husband, Alex. I joined the Lemoine Lab in September 2022 on a part-time volunteering status to gain undergraduate research experience outside of my engineering responsibilities. I am passionate about the topic of emerging contaminants and environmental chemistry and so, as of summer 2023, I am researching the emerging contaminant: artificial sweeteners. By analyzing the microbial soil respiration with variable amounts of two different artificial sweeteners, I am able to model if these artificial sweeteners affect soil microbes. In my free time I enjoy eating my weight in popcorn at the movie theatre and roller blading throughout the Milwaukee area.  

Ally Olsen
-Community Engagement and Insect Research Undergraduate

"Skip the straw, save a turtle!"

My interest in ecology was first sparked in 2019 when “Skip the straw, save a turtle,” became the popular phrase circling the internet. My AP Research project in high school involved sustainability-related research, and I was able to continue pursuing that interest in this lab during the spring semester of my Sophomore year. As of summer 2023, I am researching Environmental-DNA and ways to utilize this method for population surveys in both lab and community-science based endeavors. I will be graduating from Marquette in the Fall of 2024, majoring in Environmental Science with a minor in Computer Science. I currently plan to pursue a degree in Environmental Law after undergrad. In my free time you will find me either outside, hammocking and reading, or inside, sewing and painting!  

Andrew Plas
-Plant Physiology Researcher

"Ever thought about joining a fraternity?"

I am currently a Junior here at Marquette University majoring in Biological Sciences. I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio where I discovered a love for science and the outdoors. I am broadly interested in plant physiology as a whole, but within the context of the Lemoine Lab I am interested in the drought resilience of certain African and native Wisconsin plants as climate change causes increasingly variable weather patterns. I have been a member of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity since my Freshman year and I currently hold the position of Vice President on the Inter-Fraternity Council. Besides my interests in intermural basketball and soccer, I enjoy running and cooking.  

Eric Schmidt
-Species Distribution Modeler

"100 photos? That's a light day."

While I have been interested in nature for a while, my scientific approach began in 2018 with iNaturalist, a citizen science biodiversity platform. There, I immersed myself in the world of taxonomy and developed a fascination for both taxonomy and plant parasites. This journey led me to Marquette University, where I am currently pursuing a major in biological sciences and a minor in Spanish. Eager to deepen my ecological understanding, I joined Nate’s Lab and have since been using Python to both map the potential range of a gall midge species and determine the factors influencing their distribution. Looking ahead, my aspirations draw me toward genetics with hopes of exploring CRISPR. In my free time, I love to rock climb, ski, bike, and photograph every living organism within sight.

Kate Gibson
-Insect Community Ecologist

"I find your lack of faith... disturbing"

I am currently a junior at Marquette studying Environmental Science with a minor in Data Science. I am from Kansas City, Missouri and am a huge Chiefs fan. I am a forward on the Marquette Women’s soccer team and will play professionally following college. In the Lemoine Lab, I am learning about and running PCR on extracted grasshopper DNA from Wisconsin and will then sequence the extracted PCR product through a sequencing device called the Nanopore. I am passionate about wildlife biology, marine biology and conservation biology, and plan to attend grad school in the future. I love being around my cats and dogs and all animals, and being active and doing anything outside, like playing soccer! 

Mya Chier
-Electroculture Expert

"Wanna see pictures of my cat?"

I’m a senior majoring in Biological Sciences with a minor in Environmental Studies. I will be graduating this Spring 2024 and will be pursuing a career in environmental education. I’m from Berlin, a small town in central Wisconsin, which is where my love for science and the outdoors began. In college, I knew I wanted to get involved in lab research so I joined the Lemoine Lab in Fall 2023. Here, I am conducting a plant electroculture experiment based on the TikTok trend of placing copper wrapped rods into your garden soil to increase plant yield. In my free time, I enjoy cuddling with my cat, doing puzzles, thrifting, and spending time outdoors.

Annika Lautenbach
-Qiagen Qiacube Expert

"I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail my ship."

I am currently a junior at Marquette University, studying environmental science with a minor in environmental engineering. My love for the environment was delineated by the several state parks, rivers, and lakes that surround my hometown of Hudson, Wisconsin. I was then able to work at Kinnikinnick State Park, where I enjoyed learning about the park’s ecology and sharing that knowledge with others. Last spring, I was able to participate in Marquette’s Les Aspin program in Washington, D.C., where I interned in the House of Representatives and focused on environmental policy at the federal level. In addition to working in the University Archives, I work as a technician in the Lemoine lab, extracting DNA from soil samples. After graduating from Marquette in the spring of 2025, I plan on pursuing graduate school to study urban planning. On my own time, I enjoy baking, reading, going for very long walks, finding new music, and playing trivia. 

Brianna Velez
-Undergraduate Soil Technician

"I'd love to see pictures of your cat."

I currently attend Marquette University and I am in the graduating class of 2026. I grew up in a small town in rural Wisconsin, which is why I am looking into marine biology and wildlife conservation so I can go literally anywhere else, preferably somewhere warm. I am an Environmental Science major and an Ethics minor. Since moving to Milwaukee and getting a job at the Arrupe Center for Community Service and Social Responsibility on campus I have become more passionate about Environmental Justice and Education specifically in urban areas. I want to use my education to advocate for justice for people and the planet. In my free time I am usually outside, reading, eating, at the gym, or hanging out with my friends.

Cedric Buhrke
-Qubit and Nanodrop Connoisseur

"Let's goooooooooooo."

I am currently a sophomore at Marquette University, Majoring in Biology and Theology. Like many students at Marquette, I am from the Chicagoland area. Growing up in suburbia did not hinder my curiosity about the natural world; ever since I can remember, I’ve always preferred spending my time outside. My family’s always been really into the outdoors, and this led to my love for hiking, backpacking, and everything mountaineering. I currently work as an animal care technician for Marquette’s Biology Department, specifically working with reptiles.

In addition to this, I work in the Lemoine Lab as a Lab Technician working with biomass and performing analysis and measurements on DNA samples. After I graduate from Marquette, I plan on applying to graduate school in Biological or Ecological sciences. In my free time, I enjoy playing piano, biking, and reading.

-Lab Security Blanket


A rare breed combination of English cocker spaniel and Cajun mountain goat, Sasha was supposedly born in Louisiana, but no one knows for sure. She was given up for adoption and promptly whisked away to the Miami Humane Society on account of her being adorable. She was quickly adopted by the PI in March 2013, and has been a faithful companion, field helper, and lab mascot ever since. When not doing field work, she can be found snoozing in the office, chasing her ball in the hallway, attacking her PI’s feet, or chasing squirrels and gulls across campus. Sasha’s research interests include snow, rodent and avian behavior, and aquatic fitness.

If you’re curious as to how such an adorable animal came to be, you can find out here!

-Assistant (to the) Lab Manager


Scout is a newcomer to the world of science (and to dog life in general). After a tumultuous time in shelters and foster care, he was adopted by the Lab Manager in September 2020. A friend to everyone he meets, he loves pets and scratches and quickly learned which offices have the best treats. Scout is usually found napping in the lab or following the lab manager, although he has been known to escape on his own adventure from time to time. He now has a record with Marquette Public Safety as a known food thief. With his keen internal clock, he is often heard alerting the lab manager when he’s ready for an afternoon walk or when it is time to go home. Scout’s research interests include urban geography and small mammal nutrition and behavior.

Gabriels, Kaylees, Zoes, Wash, Book, Simon, Rivers, Shirley, and Troy
-Lab Atmosphere


Gabriels and Kaylees are white cloud minnows who joined the lab in May 2023. In June 2023, they were joined by neon tetras Zoes, mystery snails Abeds, and nerite snails Troys. As of August 2023, the tank also welcomed two new members: red velvet swordtail Wash and koi guppy Inara. While the fish don’t appreciate Sasha as much as other lab members, especially when she tries to drink out of the aquarium, they do enjoy chasing each other and snacking on insects. Abeds enjoy motoring around the tank and a good snack of blanched broccoli, while Troys are shy and tend to come out only at night. If you time it right and come in early, you can see Troys and Abeds in the morning.

In sad news, Inara, both Abeds, and a Troy have passed away. However, the snails have been joined by hitch-hiker Shirley, who arrived as an egg on a new plant. The fish have been joined by new orange tetras Rivers, orange mottled pleco Book, and cory catfish Simon.



Animaux de Compagnie