Brian S. Cheng

Assistant Professor
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Department of Environmental Conservation
160 Holdsworth Way
Amherst, MA 01003

Holdsworth Hall
Room 115 | (413) 545-2454

CV | Google Scholar | ResearchGate | Marine Ecology Family Tree

I am an ecologist and I use laboratory and field approaches to ask questions about nature. My interests are general but I’m particularly focused on the interplay between environmental stress (climate change and local stressors), species invasions, and species interactions (e.g. predation). Lately, I’ve been working towards integrating ecology and biogeography. I mostly collect empirical data, but I also synthesize known data to gain insight into how marine ecosystems work.

Jordanna Barley 

M.S. Student in Environmental Conservation

I began at UMass Amherst as a graduate student in the Department of Environmental Conservation in the fall of 2018. I graduated with a Biology degree from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, conducting research on the effects of ocean acidification on disease resistance in sea grasses. Since graduating, I completed an AmeriCorps Program working with many areas of natural resource and wildlife management, and worked at an aquatic toxicology lab doing Whole Effluent Toxicity testing. Currently, my research focuses on how range expansions in habitat-modifying species can affect marine ecosystems and habitats. I am very interested in questions concerning how climate change will affect ecological systems and species interactions.

Andrew Villeneuve

M.S. Student in Intercampus Marine Science Graduate Program

Andrew graduated with a Bachelor’s in Biology from Bowdoin College in 2016, taking advantage of the excellent coastal resources to focus on marine ecology. Before coming to UMass Amherst, he’s worked as an aquaculture research technician for the Hurricane Island Foundation in Maine, researched freshwater ecology on the Caribbean island of Dominica with Operation Wallacea, and led backpacking trips for high schoolers in West Virginia. He is excited to be in the Cheng lab as a Master’s student in the Intercampus Marine Science Graduate Program. He will be focusing his research on the rates of thermal adaptation in populations of the marine snail Urosalpinx cinerea across latitudinal gradients on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America. The patterns of adaptation these geographically separated populations show in their growth rates will help inform how organisms will react to climate change.

Austin Peek

Undergraduate Researcher
Major: Natural Resources Conservation

I am an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, studying Natural Resource Conservation with a concentration in fisheries ecology and marine science. I have research experience from Bocas Del Toro, Panama (School for Field Studies) looking at marine protected area (MPA) efficacy and the preservation of marine habitats. Recently, I also conducted research in North Carolina studying sea turtles as part of a saturated tagging program. Next, I’m looking towards graduate school in marine ecology, studying the ecology of endangered marine species. My interests involve empirical work and how anthropogenic factors may be causing the decline of marine species. My interests also involve the maangement of marine habitats with respect to endangered species. Lately, I have been working with data collected during my semester abroad, focusing on how coral reef ecosystems are affected by snorkeling tourism and if there is a difference in snorkeler behavior within the boundaries of the Bastimentos Marine Park.

Wilson Beta KomoCheng

Lab mascot and source of never ending affection. Expertise: finding bird carcasses in the intertidal zone and consumption experiments.

Wilson prepares for a backward roll entry.

My trusty sidekick, Wilson, helping me do some field work in Tomales Bay. Note the Type-DOG PFD, safety first!

Wilson helps Brian do some field work in Tomales Bay. Note the type-DOG pfd. Safety first!