Dr. Scott Abella

2010 Tahoe epscor 8

Dr. Abella is a Assistant Professor of Restoration Ecology in the School of Life Sciences, University of Nevada Las Vegas. He is also the Director and Ecologist, Natural Resource Conservation, LLC.

Since completing his dissertation work at Northern Arizona University in 2005, Dr. Abella has developed an international research program in conservation and ecology, with projects ranging across the deserts and dryland forest systems of the southwest United States, to oak woodlands in Ohio, and to the deserts of Kuwait. From 2006 to 2012, he ran an applied ecology research laboratory at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, which concentrated on restoration research in the southwest United States. In 2012, Dr. Abella moved to the Washington, D.C. Office of the National Park Service. After his departure from NPS in 2014, he started an applied science company Natural Resource Conservation, LLC, which he continues today. In spring 2015, Dr. Abella returned to UNLV as a landscape ecologist to focus on ecological restoration research.

The Applied Ecology Laboratory is currently housed in the School of Life Sciences, College of Sciences at UNLV. Dr. Abella’s research concentrates on applied ecology informing conservation and management, often in direct collaboration with resource managers and other scientists. His areas of expertise include forest ecology, restoration ecology, fire ecology, and plant ecology. He has successfully published over 95 peer-reviewed publications, 37 outreach articles, and delivered 130 public and conference presentations. He has also had 33 media appearances.

Dr. Abella completed his dissertation work on environmental and vegetational gradients in ponderosa pine landscapes at Northern Arizona University in 2005. Previous, he received a Master of Science from Clemson University in 2002, where he conducted multifactor classification of forest landscape ecosystems.


Research interests: restoration ecology, dryland forests; developing useful strategies and methods to facilitate recovery of ecosystem functioning.

Scott Abella           UNLV             Media                 Book

Lindsay Chiquoine, M.Sc. 


Lindsay is a Research Associate in the School of Life Sciences and the laboratory manager for the Abella Applied Ecology Laboratory at UNLV. She has worked with Dr. Abella since 2009 on projects primarily in the southwest United States. She has participated in a range of projects including forest reconstruction, desert landscape and wetlands assessments, and invasive and rare species management and conservation. Her current projects concentrate on developing vegetation and soil restoration techniques in a range in desert ecosystems, including rare plant communities.

Lindsay has also worked with the University of California, Davis monitoring juvenile and adult Mojave Desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) movement and conducting habitat utilization assessments in Mojave Preserve, with the USGS in Olympic National Park as a wildlife technician conducting crews and surveys of amphibians, meso-carnivores and bears and conducting habitat assessments, and with consultants and non-profits as a professional botanist in the southwest USA. She has many years experience implementing front-country and back-country research, as well as experience developing, implementing, and managing research projects across the southwest. Her current projects take her to marvelous landscapes in northern and southern New Mexico, northern and central Arizona, southern Nevada, and southern California.

Lindsay earned a Master of Science in Environmental Science with concentrations in desert soil ecology and restoration ecology from UNLV. She completed her thesis in 2012 on restoration methods for gypsum soil biological soil crust communities in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Humanities with a minor in chemistry from Northern Arizona University. While at NAU, she was as an undergraduate research assistant for the Ecological Restoration Institute and concurrently a research assistant in Political and Environmental Science.


Research interests: Understanding and utilizing interactions within a complex environment to develop restoration methods that facilitate recovery of ecological functions; specifically vegetation-soil interactions and vegetation-biocrust interactions.

Dr. Joshua Lee Greenwood

DSCN3086_cropped1Joshua is a Research Associate/Post-doctoral scholar in the School of Life Sciences at UNLV. He is working concurrently with the Applied Ecology Laboratory and Dr. Llo Stark’s laboratory. Joshua graduated with his PhD in Biological Sciences in May 2017. His dissertation work focused on the physiological response of mosses to desiccation.

Joshua’s work focuses on the physiological responses of native desert plants and specifically nursery stock to a series of treatments to develop best practice techniques for developing high quality nursery materials for restoration projects.


Mandy Mountain

Mandy is a Research Technician in the School of Life Sciences at UNLV. Mandy joined the lab in spring 2017 to assist with botanical surveys on a number of projects. She returned in fall 2017 to assist with implementation a number of experimental restoration projects.

Mandy also works with Dr. Daniel Thompson at UNLV surveying for the Mount Charleston blue butterfly.

Mandy earned a Bachelor of Science degree from UNLV.

Graduate Students

Dominic Gentilcore

Dominic is a Ph.D. student in the School of Life Sciences with a concentration in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. His position is funded by an NSF EPSCoR Grant through the Nevada Solar Nexus Program. His dissertation research is focusing on vegetation recovery from disturbance, the environmental impacts of solar development, and solar restoration techniques in the eastern Mojave Desert.
Dominic has been involved with ecological monitoring on public lands for more than a decade. He grew up camping, hiking, and catching salamanders in the Ozarks before discovering that such activities could become a career when taking undergraduate field classes in botany, cave biology, and herpetology. After graduating from Saint Louis University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2007, Dominic began several years of seasonal field work involving vegetation, soils, bighorn sheep, amphibians, and reptiles in NV, UT, and LA. In 2009, Dominic accepted a permanent position as a Biologist with the Eastern Nevada Landscape Coalition where he helped plan ecological restoration projects and led a post-fire monitoring program for the Ely, Elko, and Carson City BLM districts in NV. In 2012, Dominic enrolled in the University of Nevada-Reno to complete an Master of Science in Natural Resources and Environmental Science. His thesis examined the effects of prescribed fire, chaining, and hand thinning on vegetation and soils of Pinyon-juniper woodlands in Central Nevada within the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. Following graduation in 2015, Dominic joined the Great Basin Institute leading an Assessment, Inventory, and Monitoring (AIM) crew in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. After that season, Dominic transitioned into Data Support Specialist for the Desert Tortoise project in Las Vegas, NV.
Awards: Summer 2017, EPSCoR Impact award to develop publication $5,000

Dominic Gentilcore, Nevada Native Plant Society, to explore the Gold Butte National Monument to collect and document all vascular plant species within the boundaries $755

Simone Ka-Voka Jackson

2016 12-7 slick rock cany 140

Ka-Voka is a MS student in the School of Life Sciences with a concentration in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She is currently fully funded through a cooperative agreement with Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (GLCA). Ka-Voka’s research centers on restoration of exotic, invaded plant areas within GLCA and specifically in areas near culturally- and ecologically-sensitive sites, including cultural heritage sites, archaeologically significant sites, and areas containing hanging gardens. She is currently working on methods to decrease the exotic perennial grass Ravenna (Saccharum ravennae) and annual grass brome species (Bromus spp), and incorporate traditional ecological knowledge, or TEK, practice to encourage native recruitment and revegetation. She is an active member of the Hualapai Tribe. 

Ka-Voka earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Utah. While at the University of Utah, she worked in Dr. Dave Bolling’s lab on isotope analyses. 

Media: Arizona Highways, Salt Lake TribuneUNLV News CenterHigh Country NewsKNPR



Tiffany enjoying the Las Vegas bearpoppy

Tiffany Pereira is a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the School of Life Sciences at UNLV. She is thrilled to join the Abella Applied Ecology Lab, officially starting her graduate career in fall 2017 after accepting a School of Life Sciences Graduate Assistantship. Tiffany’s research will focus on evaluating long-term change in soil seed banks, fertile islands, and plant communities of conservation-priority gypsum rare plant habitat of the eastern Mojave Desert. The unique gypsum habitat supports two Bureau of Land Management, Nevada sensitive species: sticky ringstem (Anulocaulis leiosolenus  var. leiosolenus) and Las Vegas bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica).

After obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies with a minor in Fine Arts from the University of Southern California, Tiffany moved to Las Vegas, finding a welcoming new home and a vast landscape to explore. For the last six years she has worked as a wildlife biologist, botanist, and artist in the Mojave Desert. Having gleaned invaluable experience in the field with federal agencies (NPS, BLM & EPA) and environmental consulting firms, she looks forward to broadening her knowledge in an academic setting once again. With her undergraduate research, Tiffany strove to embrace her passion for both science and art. She completed an award winning independent study characterizing and analyzing the history, environmental justice concerns and revitalization efforts surrounding the Los Angeles River from an artistic and scientific perspective. She hopes to bring scientific illustration to her project at UNLV as well. You can find her favorite scientific painting, commissioned and completed in 2014, in the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas’ permanent exhibit.


January 21, 2017 (Josh Hawkins/UNLV Photo Services)

Audrey Rader is a Research Assistant with the School of Life Sciences. She officially entered into the graduate program in August 2017. Audrey’s research will focus on integrating biology and soils for the purpose of soil restoration and conservation. As a graduate student, she will examine the effects of disturbance on North American desert soils (specifically, the Mojave and Sonoran deserts) and will experimentally implement soil restoration techniques. She is funded through the Bureau of Land Management, California.

Audrey completed her Bachelor of Science in Geology through the Department of Geosciences at UNLV in May 2017. Audrey started volunteering with the Abella lab in June 2016 to assist with soil analyses and came on as a student worker in fall 2016. As a student worker, she conduced soil analyses including soil bulk density, soil texture analyses, and pH. In fall 2016 she presented preliminary research at the SER Southwest Conference, 9-11 Nov 2016 at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas, NV, and received an award for her poster presentation. As an undergraduate, she also worked for the USFS Forest Inventory Analysis Program and assisted on a project with the UNLV Burnley group (UNLV) which focused on using GIS to predict background radiation.

Camille Traylor is a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the School of Life Sciences at UNLV. Camille joined the lab for the fall 2017 semester. She recently graduated from the University of San Francisco with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry (May 2016).  Camille’s research will focus on the effects of disturbance and restoration actions on soil seed banks and fertile island development in conservation-priority gypsum rare plant habitat of the eastern Mojave Desert.

Undergraduate Research Assistants


January 21, 2017 (Josh Hawkins/UNLV Photo Services)

Vivian Sam is an undergraduate student in the School of Life Sciences at UNLV. Vivian has always loved animals. After working at a veterinary hospital for almost three years, she realized medicine was not in her interests (nor was veterinary school). Since an introduction to ecology, Vivian decided to pursue wildlife & vegetation ecology (but is not limiting herself to just that!) and to learn more about ways in which to protect biodiversity, such as through habitat restoration to help conserve plants and wildlife. Over the summer 2016 Vivian was an AANAPISI Summer Research program intern working with the Abella lab on developing methods for enhancing germination of key perennial species from our BLM-CA study sites and presented her summer research November 2 at the 2016 UNLV McNair Scholar and AANAPISI Undergraduate Research Symposium. She has continued to work on seed ecology studies, as well as working with Matt Rader on a wetland restoration project in Lake Mead National Recreation Area and invertebrate monitoring for that project. Vivian presented her research at the SER Southwest Conference, 9-11 Nov 2016 at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas, NV, receiving first place for her poster presentation. Vivian is also an active treasurer of the Ecology, Conservation, an Evolution Club at UNLV. In her free time, she enjoys trying new restaurants around the Las Vegas valley and watching nature documentaries.


Summer 2017, University of Nevada, Las Vegas Office of Undergraduate Research Summer Undergraduate Research Funding Scholarship (OUR SURF) $1,500.

Summer 2017, Title III AANAPISI (Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions) award to develop manuscript for testing germination methods for desert perennials for restoration $2,500.

Vivian Sam & Dr. Abella, June 2017, Glen Canyon Natural History Association to support pollinator research $5,000.


Summer, 2016, Title III AANAPISI (Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions) award to test methods to test and improve germination methods for desert perennials for restoration $2,500.

Former Abella lab employees


Carlee Coleman (Logan, UT), spring 2017

Emily Orling (Wenatchee, WA), spring 2017

Mandy Mountain (Las Vegas, Nevada), spring 2017

Mary Balogh (Dallas, TX), spring 2017

Matthew Mosher (CA), spring 2016

Evan Peters (NY), spring 2016

Brandon McNellis (CA), spring 2016

Terry Zaugg (ID), spring 2016

Abella lab alumni


Matthew Rader







Student Volunteers

We will have volunteer opportunities this summer 2017. E-mail Lindsay with your resume and an interest statement. Or contact one of our graduate students to inquire if they may need assistance. 

Interested in joining our lab? Prospective Students

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