Leah Fitchett

B.S. in Biology, College of William and Mary, 2014


After majoring in biology (minor: marine science) at the College of William and Mary, I pursued my interest in educational outreach as a park interpreter for Claytor Lake State Park in Dublin, VA, and my interest in conducting field research by working as a wetland management research assistant for a joint Virginia Tech and National Forest Service data collection initiative. I spent two years managing an organismal biology lab at Duke University which provided me ample opportunity to further develop my leadership, administrative, and independent research abilities. I am now pursuing an M.S. degree at Virginia Tech studying the effectiveness of volunteer lake associations in maintaining water quality. This research is part of a multidisciplinary project supported by an NSF Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems grant.

Research Interests:

  • Dynamics of social-ecological systems
  • Ecosystem services and human perception
  • Human communities and conservation initiatives
  • Effectiveness of volunteer/non-profit organizations
  • Development of practical conservation and restoration strategies

Current Projects:

  • Effectiveness and evolution of non-profit lake associations over time
  • Human dimensions of changes in lake water quality

Past Projects:

  • Ciliate epibionts in Chesapeake Bay: life cycle, metabolism, and effects on copepods.
  • Trace metal quotas of natural coastal phytoplankton assemblages in the freshwater vs. marine systems
  • Bioacoustic patterning of mantis shrimp
  • Running speed in mammals & phylogenetic relatedness
  • Database of ultra-fast movements across the tree of life

Other Interests:
In my free time I love experiencing and exploring the great outdoors with my dog, spending time with family and friends, enjoying music, running, cooking, and giving back to my local community.