Plant Ecology

Lisa Giencke


Dr. Kier Klepzig

Director and Scientist

Kier is the Director and Scientist in Entomology for, and directs the conservation, research and educational programs of, the Jones Center at Ichauway in southwest Georgia. The program is sponsored by the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation. The programs include the stewardship of the 30,000-acre Ichauway site, graduate student co-sponsorship programs, natural resource education and outreach to landowners, students, policy-makers, and public agencies, and five long-term research projects. His personal research interests include forest entomology, forest pathology, mycology, and insect and microbial diversity. Kier obtained his BS at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and his MS and Ph.D. in Entomology and Plant Pathology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has worked as a professor at Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA, and as a Research Entomologist, Project Leader, and Assistant Director with the USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station. In his spare time, Kier acts in and directs local theatrical productions, plays guitar, and listens to a myriad of indie rock bands and podcasts. Also, his favorite color is definitely purple.

Lisa Giencke

Senior Research Associate II

Lisa joined the Plant Ecology lab in 2011. She has a B.A. in Biology from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and an M.S. in Environmental and Forest Biology from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY. Her interests include patterns of plant diversity in the longleaf pine ecosystem, including fire effects, endangered species management, and restoration.

Allie Heiker

Senior Research Technician

Allie joined the Plant Ecology lab in May 2021 as a research technician. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Florida State University in biological science, where she first was able to study botany and realize her passion about the vast plant biodiversity in northwest Florida. After graduating, she had the opportunity to join the Fire Ecology lab at Tall Timbers Research Station in Tallahassee, where she gained general fieldwork experience and field taxonomic skills working across the region in longleaf pine herbaceous communities. She also was able to learn about the importance of prescribed fire regimes in fire-dependent ecosystems and helped perform prescribed fires in these native longleaf pine habitats. This experience led her to persue her master’s degree, where she returned to Florida State University under the direction of Dr. Nora Underwood and Dr. Brian Inouye. Her graduate studies built upon her research experience at Tall Timbers, where she studied the relationship between recurrent fire regimes and the native bee community in the Apalachicola National Forest. After joining the Plant Ecology lab at the Jones Center, she has enjoyed learning new fieldwork and labwork skills dedicated to building a seedbank with uncommon plant species across the property and southwest Georgia. She has also enjoyed implementing her plant-insect interactions research interests to identifying native pollinators for plants of conservation interest. She hopes in the future to build off of her experience here at the Jones Center to continue a career in plant conservation, and to promote scientific outreach about the importance of conserving plant biodiversity. Outside of her research interests, she enjoys hiking, kayaking, and tap dancing.

Lewis Marquez

Ph.D. Student

Lewis Marquez is a Ph.D. student at Emory University, under the direction of Dr. Cassandra Quave, Department of Dermatology and Center for the Study of Human Health, and Dr. Kier Klepzig, the Jones Center at Ichauway. His research focuses on identifying and isolating antimicrobial compounds from plant species used in traditional medicine for skin disorders. From these plants, his lab has curated a unique natural product library composed of >1,500 plant extracts. Currently, his research projects include identifying antibacterial compounds for use against Gram-negative bacteria like drug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii, identifying antifungal compounds that are effective against pathogenic fungi like Candida Auris, and identifying compounds that resensitize drug-resistant microbes to conventional antimicrobials In his free time, Lewis likes to watch old Western movies and go on road trips exploring the East Coast with his wife Roxxette.

Sam Charpentier

Seasonal Technician

Sam Charpentier arrived at Ichauway in May 2023 to support the Plant Ecology Lab. During a prescribed fire stint at Moody Forest WMA in eastern Georgia he became enthralled by the diversity, complexity, and beauty of longleaf ecosystems. Sam’s goals for this season are to support the plant lab’s work conserving Ichauway’s rare plant species and to learn valuable research and conservation skills. Some of his previous jobs have included confectionery, professional driving, leading field crews, vegetation monitoring, rare plant surveys, and meadow restoration research. Georgia is the 10th state Sam has lived in. After work you might meet him listening to science fiction novels in a live oak or fighting red ants and brambles for wild fruit. His plans include a graduate program in botany, researching management for forage food species, and berry hunting his way around the world. 

Emma Reitsma

Seasonal Technician

Emma is an undergraduate student at the University of Vermont studying plant biology. She first got introduced to the field of conservation by attending summer camp through the Massachusetts Audubon Society. Since then she has continued to develop her passion for the outdoors and botany and it has led her to Ichauway! She hopes to continue a career in plant biology fieldwork and eventually go to graduate school and pursue research. When Emma is not working she is climbing, backpacking, or pressing plants.

Stephen W. Golladay, Ph.D.


Dr. Golladay’s interests include the ecology of streams and wetlands, the impact of human land use on water quality and aquatic invertebrates, and the impact of variation in hydrology on ecological processes and aquatic communities Recently, he has developed an interest in the ecology and conservation of rare and endangered freshwater mussel species.

Dr. Golladay has served as a technical advisor to the Sand County Foundation, Georgia EPD, DNR and Water Management districts in Florida. He has developed training activities for resource professionals in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Dr. Golladay also has assisted in the development of programs to enhance the
natural resource awareness of regional educators in cooperation with regional Georgia Youth Science and Technology.