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Ajay Sharma, Ph.D

Director of The Sharma Forestry & Ecology Lab

Ajay Sharma is Assistant Professor of Silviculture and Applied Forest Ecology at the College of Forestry, Wildlife, and Environment (CFWE) of Auburn University (AU). He has a PhD in forest resources and conservation from University of Florida. His research covers a wide variety of topics related to restoration and disturbance ecology of forest ecosystems in India and the US. 

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Justin McKeithen

Lab Technician III

Justin is the key person who manages logistics of the lab and supports research of the PI and graduate students. 

    John Tracy

    Ph. D Student

    John brings to our lab 7 years of forestry consulting experience from the Louisiana forest products industry.  His professional focus mostly involved bottomland hardwood ecology.  It caught his attention when our lab offered an opportunity to study hardwood forest ecology within the Apalachicola River floodplain, part of Florida’s largest river basin.  Now John’s focus will involve collecting data to assess forest composition changes in a floodplain that has experienced increased drying since the 1950s due to anthropogenic and climatic factors.  His studies will also involve a slough flow restoration project that aims to improve natural hydrology that affects not only the forest ecosystem, but fisheries and other local economies in the region.  

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      Ashton Shell

      Ph. D. Student

      Ashton Shell was born and raised and currently lives in Milton, Florida. Prior to graduate school, Ashton received a degree in Natural Resource Conservation at the University of Florida. He worked in Dr. Ajay Sharma’s lab as an undergraduate as well as interning one semester for Escambia County’s Water and Land Management Division. Ashton now continues his education to pursue PhD and researching  more on longleaf pine ecology and management. During his free time Ashton enjoys playing golf, fishing, hunting and exploring state and national parks

        Sairandhri Lapalikar

        Ph.D Student


        Sai is interested in exploring different ways in which basic principles of forest ecology can be used for addressing questions about forest degradation. Previously, she worked on regeneration dynamics, phenology and plant-pollinator interactions in the Western Ghats of India. And, now she is very excited to explore the long-leaf pine savanna ecosystem!

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          Denise Burridge

          M.S. Student

          Denise is interested in longleaf pine ecology and management. Her thesis research is examining longleaf pine responses to group selection silviculture. Using field measurements, terrestrial laser scans and spatial statistical methods, her research will help answer the questions related to the role of gap size, shape, and orientation and the gap environment on gap cohort development. 

            Brianna Mackey

            Research Assistant

            Brianna is interested in a variety of projects, including longleaf pine ecology, floodplains forest ecology, as well as in creating teaching modules and technology.    

              Jesse Frazier

              M.S. Student

              Jesse studied uneven management of southern pine forests, emphasizing conversion of even-aged plantations to multifunctional uneven-aged stands. He has a large interest in ecological restoration and maintenance of native ecosystems using silvicultural methods.

                Daniel Brethauer

                M.S. Student

                Daniel studied fire ecology, long-term stand dynamics, and growth and yield modeling in slash and longleaf pine forests. 

                  Cody Pope

                  M.S. Student


                  Cody's interest lied in studying the forest dynamics of longleaf pine ecosystems. For his thesis, he examined how windstorms (hurricanes) affected forest structure and community. His research provided information that is useful in conserving and maintaining longleaf pine habitat that has been severely impacted by agriculture and urban development.

                    Benju Baniya

                    M.S. Student


                    Benju completed her undergraduate degree in Forestry Science from Tribhuvan University, Nepal. Her research interests revolve around forest ecology, silviculture and climate change. For her thesis work, she focused on longleaf pine ecosystem and its interaction with prescribed burning in restoration of groundcover diversity. Apart from nature and forests, she enjoys reading and poetry. 

                      Ashton Shell

                      M.S. Student

                      Ashton led an effort on quantifying the effects of uneven-aged harvests and hurricane damages on residual longleaf pine stand growth and development 

                        ONLINE MASTER DEGREE STUDENTS

                        Ethan Baldino, M.S. in Forest Resources & Conservation

                        Latisa Ledbetter-Kish, M.S. in Forest Resources & Conservation

                        Kimberly Kirkpatrick, M.S. in Forest Resources & Conservation

                        Austin, Misner, M.S. in Forest Resources & Conservation

                        Kevin Smith, M.S. in Forest Resources & Conservation

                        Michael Sojo, M.S. in Forest Resources & conservation


                        Abishek Poudel, Graduate Student (currently at SUNY, Syracuse) 

                        Dinesh Pandey, Research Assistant (currently at University of Nebraska, Lincoln) 

                        Surendra Shrestha, Research Assistant (currently at Brown University)  

                        Sara Hunter, Summer Intern 

                        Daniel Brethauer, Summer Intern 

                        Teri Vandenberg, Research Assistant

                        Barbara Cory, Research Assistant

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