Meet Elle Barnes, an urban ecologist interested in the microscopic communities around us!

Elle Barnes is a Ph.D. student in the Biological Sciences Department at Fordham University. Before coming to Fordham to study ecology and evolution, she was an undergraduate in the Environmental Studies program at New York University. As an urban ecologist in New York City, she has researched how humans influence their environment and other organisms living among them—from the largest trees to the smallest microbes in the city. Currently, she is studying an urban salamander species and the role of its microbiome in protecting it from wildlife disease (the chytrid fungus). The long-term goal of her research is to better understand how ecological communities assemble and how this process can impact the function of that community. Working with microbes has allowed her to rewind and playback the process of community formation to seek out why ecological communities vary over space and time.