Current members

Caitlin Conn earned her Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Penn State in 2011 and her PhD from the University of Georgia in 2017. After two postdocs at Spelman College and Emory University, she joined the faculty of Berry College in 2019 and is grateful for the best field site imaginable: Berry’s 27,000-acre campus!

Caitlin’s CV can be found here.

Austin Garrett is a biology major and chemistry minor who is also known as a PCR wizard and gel-loader extraordinaire. He is a great team player inside and outside the lab and is an enthusiastic member of Berry’s Winshape Program. He loves to spend his free time outdoors, which makes sense because he is an absolute ray of sunshine.

Madison Hollis is a biology major who excels at molecular techniques like DNA extraction and PCR, and she currently studies genes that have evolved similarly in parasitic and nonparasitic plants. Madison also serves as the lab’s expert on Southern culture (and particularly college football), and she makes us proud as a pitcher on Berry’s softball team.

Hello! My name is Amanda Merrilles and I am from Austell, GA. I truly have a passion for science and health! I graduated from North Cobb Magnet High School, and now I am a freshman Biology major and a One Health Science minor at Berry College. I am looking forward to the new discoveries and findings that will be found during this research. 

Sarah Quigley is a biochemistry major studying host perception in facultative hemiparasitic plants. When she isn’t cloning up a storm in the lab, you can find Sarah rocking her science courses, serving her fellow students as an RA, studying marine science in her home state of New Jersey, or sitting front-row at the newest smash hit on Broadway.

Brody Wallace is a biology major whose honors thesis investigates germination-related genes in parasitic plants. When he isn’t cruising through the dark and daunting waters of bionformatics, you can find him setting up labs for the rest of the department or running like lightning on the track or cross country course.

Dobby is a promising field-assistant-in-training who doesn’t know how to identify parasitic plants but keeps morale high with his enthusiasm for hiking. When he’s not in the woods, you can find Dobby sitting on the couch and collaborating on manuscripts (or maybe just sleeping there).

Lab alumni

Rachel Christopher (class of 2021; at right in photo) majored in environmental science and has an impressive green thumb and excellent leadership skills. Rachel’s passion for ecology opened up new research directions for the lab, and her love of singing and talent for baking kept the research team entertained and well-fed.

Michael Crowe (class of 2021) majored in biology and has a strong background in genetics, biological diversity, and evolution. Michael’s project involved cloning other plants’ genes into Arabidopsis to investigate their function. In the lab (and beyond), Michael has also been known as a master photographer, skilled skateboarder, and entomologist extraordinaire.

Emilie D. (class of 2021) majored in biology and was on a mission to save sea turtles from a pathogenic fungus. Emilie is an adventurer who has traveled extensively to collect the fungus, protect sea turtle hatching sites, and learn biology firsthand in Costa Rica. Outside of the lab, Emilie stayed busy working with Berry sports teams, rock climbing, and caring for her tortoise Bruce.