Sam(antha) L. Davis

@EcologyRocks | GIthub | LiveCoding | Email | LinkedIn

I’m a scientist investigating novel plant-insect interactions and the results of human modifications to natural areas. In my free time, I enjoy programming, playing soccer, rescuing animals, and spending time with my partner and our zoo. I'm also a huge natural language processing and generation nerd. I have a keen interest in outreach and open science. For science to be interesting and useful, it needs to be accessible to everyone, from children to adults. For science to be effective, our ideas and data need to be well organized and easily accessible to all.

I'm currently a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California Merced, where I'm trying to figure out whether our forests are going to migrate or adapt to the changing climate. I'm working with Dr. Emily Moran, a new faculty member at UC Merced, and we are trying to build knowledge of the Sierra Nevada forests in California. During my time at UC Merced, I've developed three R packages and have begun building a model to represent the various forest types in low and high altitude areas of the Sierra Nevada.

I graduated from Wright State University in 2015 with a Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences. During my time at Wright State, I managed \$6000 in grants from four separate funding sources, including Phipps Botany in Action program, an Original Work Grant from the Graduate Student Alliance, and RocketHub crowdfunding. I also received three honorable mentions for grants submitted to the National Science Foundation (GRFP, DDIG), and was awarded the Environmental Sciences Graduate Student Excellence Award in 2014. I was originally recruited to Wright State University with a Yellow Springs Instruments award, which awarded me an additional \$6000 in stipend money over two years. You can read more about my teaching experience on the Education and Outreach Page.

Before Wright State, I spent four years earning a B.S. in Biology from Daemen College, in Amherst, NY. As a Daemen biology student, I developed and executed my own research plan, culminating in a thesis about the effects of road salt on purple loosestrife, an invasive plant. During that time, I led the Student Honors Organization and took leadership roles in the Environmental Club and Beta Beta Beta, the biological honors society on campus. I also revamped the original PHP/MySQL back-end for faculty to access student records through federal works study and Daemen work program opportunities. I was also grateful for the opportunity to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity for three months, and tutor in an after-school program for inner city Buffalo students.


Davis, S.L., Frisch, T., Bjarnholt, N., and D. Cipollini. 2015. Does garlic mustard lure and kill the West Virginia White butterfly? Journal of Chemical Ecology, accepted.

Frisch, T., Agerbirk, N., Davis, S.L., Cipollini, D., Olsen, C.E., Motawie, M.S., Bjarnholt, N., and B.L. Moller. 2014. “Glucosinolate-related glucosides in Alliaria petiolata: Sources of variation in the plant and different metabolism in an adapted specialist herbivore, Pieris rapae.” Journal of Chemical Ecology. doi:10.1007/s10886-014-0509-y.

Davis, S.L. and D. Cipollini. 2014b. “ The oviposition preference and larval performance of Pieris virginiensis on the novel, invasive host Alliaria petiolata.” Biological Invasions 16:1941-1950

Davis, S.L. and D. Cipollini. 2014a. “How environmental conditions and changing landscapes influence the survival and reproduction of a rare butterfly, Pieris virginiensis (Pieridae).” Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society 68(1):61-65

Selected Presentations

Davis, S.L. and D. Cipollini. 2014. “West Virginia Whites” Keynote presentation delivered at the Lake Erie Allegheny Partnership for Biodiversity Annual Meeting; 2014 May 21: Cleveland, OH.

Davis, S.L. and D. Cipollini. 2014. “Tracking the rare butterfly, Pieris virginiensis, through space and time.” Natural Areas Conference; 2014 Oct 15: Dayton, OH.

Cipollini, D., S.L. Davis, and D. Lieurance. 2014. “Alternative outcomes of the interaction of specialist herbivores with novel invasive host plants.” Invited talk, Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting; 2014 Nov 19: Portland, OR.

Davis, S.L. and D. Cipollini. 2014. “Adult attraction and resulting larval mortality of Pieris virginiensis on the novel host garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata).” Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting; 2014 Nov 17: Portland, OR.

Davis, S.L. and D. Cipollini. 2013. “Does the native West Virginia White butterfly (Pieris virginiensis) oviposit on invasive, toxic garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata)?” Ecological Society of America 98th Annual Meeting; 2013 Aug 8: Minneapolis, MN.

Cipollini, D., S.L. Davis, D. Lieurance and V. Bahn. 2013. “Biogeographic variation in resistance of the invasive plant, Alliaria petiolata, to a powdery mildew fungus, and local influences on the prevalence of resistance” Ecological Society of America 98th Annual Meeting; 2013 Aug 8: Minneapolis, MN.