Research Group

Advances in research cannot be done in a vacuum, but are the result of integrative and collaborative minds that do not think alike. 

Graduate Students

PictureLouis Hunninck

PhD student 2017-present
Norwegian University of Science and Technology

  • Louis is originally from Belgium and completed his BSc in Biology at Ghent University. After completing his MSc in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution at the Norwegian University for Science and Technology, he is currently taking a PhD there, too. His main interests are behavioral ecology, evolution, and conservation physiology. Louis’ PhD project looks at the effect of anthropogenic disturbances on physiological, nutritional, and behavioral stress in impala populations the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, East-Africa.
PictureLeah McKay

MSc student 2019-present
​UMass Dartmouth

  • Leah received an AS in Wildlife Technology and BSc  in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Penn State University. She is interested in studying the neurobiology of stress, adaptive behavior of free-living individuals, and wildlife biology. Her current research focuses on how predation risk influences learning and memory, as well as, gene expression in the brains of free-living mice. It will also explore mechanisms of PTSD by examining how previous exposure to predation risk may have persistent influences within wild populations.
PictureEleanor DiNuzzo

PhD student 2020-present
​UMass Dartmouth

  • Eleanor is from Beaver, Pennsylvania and received her BSc in Biodiversity and Conservation from BYU. Her main interests are in behavioral ecology, specifically in understanding how various ecological stresses alter organism behavior and the resulting community interactions and structure as a whole. She has a longstanding interest exploring these questions in marine systems. Eleanor’s PhD project will focus on how invasive species disrupt predator induced trait-mediated indirect interactions and alter resource abundance in New England intertidal communities.

Lab Associated Graduate Students

These students represent an integral part of the Sheriff lab. A major focus of their research involves stress physiology and as such they spend many months working in and collaborating with the Sheriff lab.
PictureJess Steketee

PhD Student 2017-present
University of New Hampshire
​Advised by Rebecca Rowe

  • Jess received her undergraduate degree in Biology from William Smith College. Her research interests include small mammals, arctic ecology, and understanding the effects of climate change on wildlife populations. Jess’s PhD work will use mark recapture techniques and museum specimens to examine the relationship between stress hormone levels and population dynamics in brown lemmings in northern Alaska.
PictureAmy Shipley

PhD Student 2016-present
University of Wisconsin -Madison
Advised by Ben Zuckerberg

  • Amy’s research focuses on how the effects of climate change, including less persistent snow cover and increased thawing and refreezing events, will alter the landscape for winter-adapted  Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus).  Amy is conducting a radio telemetry study to explore roost site selection, stress physiology, and the demographic consequences that may be associated with a warming winter environment.
PictureDustin Owen

PhD Student 2015-present
Penn State University
Advised by Tracy Langkilde

  • Dustin is originally from Indiana, where he earned his B.S. from Ball State University. His primary research interests lie in ecophysiology and behavioral ecology in vertebrates, especially pertaining to anthropogenic disturbances. His PhD research investigates how an invasive predator, fire ants, influences eastern fence lizards via maternal stress effects.

Undergraduate Students

PictureAlyssa Giordano
Undergraduate 2020-present
​UMass Dartmouth

  • Alyssa is from Rhode Island and is currently an undergraduate at UMass Dartmouth. She is a biology major with an interest in ecology and conservation. She is currently working in the lab analyzing stress hormones in free-living mice. Her future research will examine how anthropogenic noise (road noise) may disrupt important predator-prey interactions.


PictureBrian Hayden
Undergraduate 2020-present
​UMass Dartmouth

  • Brian is a former Clinical Laboratory Technician currently attending UMass Dartmouth as a Marine Biology Major. His interests mainly concern evolution and behavior, specifically communication. Brian is currently working in the lab assaying fecal stress hormone levels from free-living Boreal caribou.


PictureVictoria Kelleher
Undergraduate 2018-present
​UMass Dartmouth

  • ​Victoria is from Charlton, Massachusetts. She is currently an undergraduate student double majoring in Biology and Philosophy.  Her main interests are ethology, neurobiology and abnormal psychology. She was awarded a stipend from UMass Dartmouth’s Office of Undergraduate Research for a project investigating the impacts of predation risk on foraging behavior in free-living small mammals.
    After graduation, Victoria aims to obtain her PhD through research on complex trauma/PTSD.

Lab Alumni

PictureKirsty J. MacLeod

Post-Doctoral Fellow
Marie Skłowdowska Curie Actions Research Fellow,
Lund University, Sweden


PictureMichaela Rice 

MSc Student 2015-2018
Texas A & M
Co-advised with Randall DeYoung and David Hewitt



PictureDavid Ensminger 

Phd Student 2014-2018

Penn State University



PictureJeffrey R. Werner

PhD Student 2012-2016
University of British Columbia
Co-advised with Charley Krebs


PictureNicole Alonso

MSc. Student 2015-2017
Texas A&M Kingsville
​Advised by David Hewitt


PictureLauren Cherry
​Penn State University


PictureElyse McMahon
Penn State University


PictureEllie Thurston
Penn State University


PictureLexi Riehl
Penn State University


PictureJennifer Heppner
Penn State University



Support Staff

Simulated mammalian predator.




PictureMadeleine F. Sheriff
Daughter and biggest fan.




PictureElliott R. Sheriff
Son and biggest fan.