SEPL People

Principal Investigator

 Jenny McGuire

Jenny became an Assistant Professor at Georgia Tech in August 2017. She uses both modern and paleontological specimens to identify how populations, species, and communities have responded to past climate change. Her goal is to identify strategies to conserve as much biodiversity as possible given rapidly shifting climates. She received her PhD from the Dept. of Integrative Biology at UC-Berkeley, and did postdoctoral research at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center and at the University of Washington.

Postdoctoral Researchers


Leila Siciliano-Martina

Leila joined the SEPL lab in September 2022 and is working on an NSF funded project in conjunction with the Lawing Lab at Texas A&M University to explore functional trait ecology in African mammals. Leila is interested in understanding the ways in which morphology can inform functionality and the relationships that can exist between morphology, functionality, and the environment. She is particularly interested in understanding how these associations can inform conservation practices and the ways in which anthropogenic conditions can disrupt those relationships. She received her PhD from the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Program at Texas A&M University in 2020 and conducted postdoctoral research at Texas State University.


Corentin Gibert-Bret

Corentin joined the SEPL in December 2022. He is working on the climate fidelity project to decipher the link between the distributions of North American mammals and plants in light of the extreme climatic fluctuation since the last glacial maximum (20 000 years ago). He is interested in how fossil mammalian communities were assembled and how niche and dispersal processes have shaped them over time. Corentin is focusing on using and developing analytical methods compatible with modern ecology and paleontology. He received his PhD from Lyon 1 University, France, in 2017 and conducted postdoctoral research in ecology, archeology, and paleontology labs.

Graduate Students

Ben Shipley

Ben began working in SEPL in Fall 2018. He is interested in the geographical and historical mechanisms behind species distributions and how "hotspots" of small-ranged species can be identified for conservation. Ben graduated with honors from CU-Boulder in 2018 with a dual major in Geography and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. While there he worked in the McCain Mountain Lab studying the effects of forest fragmentation on biodiversity.


Daniel Lauer

Daniel (Danny) joined SEPL in the spring semester of 2019. He is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Quantitative Biosciences. His dissertation focuses on the ecology and biogeography of African mammals on broad spatial and temporal scales. He received his B.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 2017. In his free time, he enjoys singing, playing sports, and hiking.


Julia Schap

Julia joined SEPL in the fall of 2019. She received her B.S. in Integrative Biology from the University of Florida in 2016 and her M.S. in Geosciences from East Tennessee State University in 2019. She has previously studied small mammal community responses to past warming periods, as well as their ability to estimate paleoclimatic conditions. She is interested in expanding the understanding of how small mammal communities have responded to past aridity events in order to better understand how modern and future communities will respond in the face of increasing aridity.

Katherine Slenker

Katie joined SEPL in the fall of 2022. She received her B.A. in Evolutionary Biology from Case Western Reserve University and her M.S. in Anatomy and Vertebrate Paleontology from Oklahoma State University. She has previously studied the response of large-bodied mammals to environmental drying, specifically looking at pronghorn headgear and the carotid rete. She is interested in the responses of large-mammal communities to increasing aridification under past and modern conditions.


 [Your name here]

SEPL is looking for excellent PhD students. If you are interested in becoming a part of this growing group, please look through our "Opportunities" page and contact Jenny.

Undergraduate Researchers


Lily Turner

Lily is a second-year lab member who joined in the Spring of 2020 as a Fast-Track-to-Research scholar. As a biology major at Georgia Tech, she loves the life sciences, particularly ornithology and arachnology. She works on the lab’s Natural Trap Cave project, identifying fossils and more. She hopes to continue research in conservation biology in the future.


Megan Wright

Megan is a third-year biology major and started in the lab in Fall 2020. She is interested in ecology, behavioral biology, and conservation biology and is looking forward to doing work in the SEPL lab. She hopes to make use of this experience in future positions related to the biological sciences. In her free time, she loves to do archery, hike, and travel.

Amna Amir

Amna is a third year undergraduate student majoring in biology. She began working in the SEPL lab in Spring 2020 to explore her interest in fossil morphology, and is excited to work on further projects in the lab. In her free time, Amna enjoys painting, reading, and spending time outdoors.


Audrey Dods

Audrey began volunteering in the lab in October 2018. She hopes to pursue a career in scientific journalism and is majoring in Biological Sciences and Literature, Media, & Communications. The experience of working with SEPL has allowed her to learn a great deal about ecology and research methodology, as well as the communication that is essential to present new findings to the academic community and the public. In her free time, Audrey loves observing/chasing/being chased by all kinds of animals, and she is a big fan of SEPL’s Fossil Fridays!

Anna Whitford

Anna began volunteering in with the lab in Fall 2019 at Fossil Fridays and started working in the lab in Fall 2020. She is a 2nd year majoring in Industrial and Systems Engineering. She is interested in maps, modeling, and species responses to climate change. In her free time, Anna enjoys visiting museums, drawing, and hunting for fossils. She looks forward to doing further research in the lab!

Eli Vazquez

Eli is a second undergraduate student majoring in the biological sciences. They began working in the SEPL lab in spring 2022. They have an interest in Ecology, Saurology, Astrobiology and is excited to work on future ecology projects within the lab. In their free time, Eli enjoys drawing, running, and robotics.



Sir Linksalot


Link was born in Fall 2017. He enjoys playing soccer with his humans, hosting people parties (where everyone feeds him treats), chasing squirrels, and visiting his grandma and uncle (Barney the dog). He really dislikes it when Jenny is working on her laptop rather than petting him. He also quite dislikes bicycles and especially motorcycles. Link is a good boy (most of the time).


Sashi & Pele

Sashi (left) and Pele (right) are rescue cats from Seattle. Pele was born in 2012, and she gave birth to Sashi about a year later. Pele really enjoys being petted and scratched. She gets jealous if the dog is getting too much attention. She also enjoys playing with toys on occasion and especially sleeping. Sashi likes to hide in closets and sleep. She appreciates being groomed by her mom (that is, Pele... not Jenny), but otherwise would prefer to be left alone. They are good kitties.


Pippa was adopted by Julia in the winter of 2018 in Florida. She enjoys spending the day looking out of windows or sleeping in one of her cat trees. She thinks every hour of the day is feeding time and gets upset when you do not agree. Pippa acts like a dog by constantly following Julia around the apartment and greeting her at the door when she comes home. She loves attention more than anything, especially head and chin scratches as well as belly rubs. However, she is big into stranger danger and will hide when anyone knocks on the door or any new guests come to visit.


Marshall is a scrappy street cat who moved inside to live with Leila and her husband Jason on New Year’s Eve 2021. Although the transition to inside living has been rocky at times, Marshall’s stray life seems to have been quite perilous. With one partially blind eye, an ill-aligned jaw, hip dysplasia, and a broken tail, Marshall was not living his best life outside. He is still rather concerned about the threat of aerial predators, particularly ceiling fans, and he is still learning not to pounce on his three other feline companions. Marshall’s interests include cuddling, sleeping in sunny spots, and playing with catnip toys.


Pippi is an adorable little cockatiel who was born in March of 2020 (rough timing). She likes screaming for attention the moment her humans leave the room, eating unhealthy seeds (and ignoring all the healthy food we try to feed her), chewing on laptops and important pieces of paper (instead of all of her own toys), sitting on shoulders during Zoom meetings, asking to be pet/snuggled, pooping every five seconds regardless of location, and flying and waddling around like the cutie that she is. Her humans love her very much!

Former SEPL People:

Postdoctoral Scholars:

Silvia Pineda Munoz (Grant Writer at Amazon Conservation)

Yue Wang (Associate Professor at Sun Yat-Sen University)

Rachel Short (Assistant Professor at South Dakota State University)

Lab technicians:

Aaron Woodruff (now at Florida Museum of Natural History)

Rukumani (Ruku) Rimal (GIS Analyst)

Undergraduate students:

Angelica Chukwudebe (Brown U)

Manu Regalado (CoE)

Riannon Colton (EAS)

Daniel Do & Renee Bach (CoC)

Jadyn Sethna, Kathryn McCarthy, Joe Miles, Amanda Meadows, Molly Guthrie, Victoria Contreras, Morgan Ganues, Tong Yu, Alissa Schlossberg (SoBS)

Matthew Torres & Simone Siriani (Georgia State)

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