Current Lab Members

Interested in becoming a student with the Thorne Lab? Check out our opportunities here.

Kimberly Lato


Kim is an M.S. student in Thorne Lab studying seabird ecology. She obtained her B.Sc. from Binghamton University in New York and has worked for numerous conservation non-profits prior to coming to SoMAS. She has most recently worked as a research assistant in Costa Rica, studying the nesting polymorphism of Olive Ridley sea turtles. Her Master’s thesis focuses on the foraging ecology and urban adaptability of Herring gulls (Larus argentatus) and Great Black-backed gulls (Larus marinus) using GPS tracking data and stable isotope analyses.

Ellie Heywood


Ellie is a technician in the Thorne lab at SoMAS.  She obtained a B.A. in biology from Occidental College in Los Angeles and a Master of Environmental Management degree from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University.  Within the Thorne lab, her main role is to provide support for the New York Bight monitoring project.  Prior to joining the Thorne Lab, she worked for the Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab at Duke University on the Migratory Connectivity in the Ocean (MiCO) System as the taxa lead for marine mammals and seabirds. Ellie has extensive experience in marine mammal and seabird field research, geospatial ecology, and marine conservation.  She also has experience with the collection, management, and analysis of marine acoustic datasets.  Her main interests lie in movement and behavioral ecology, and conservation solutions for marine vertebrates. Outside of academia, Ellie is an avid sailor and has maintained her U.S. Coast Guard maritime licensing since 2011.

Melinda Conners

melinda (dot)conners(at)stonybrook(dot)edu

Melinda is a postdoc in the Thorne lab. Here, she is quantifying the relationship between wind conditions and flight energetics of albatross species breeding on South Georgia Island in the Subantarctic. This work will increase our understanding of dynamic energy landscapes in the ocean for pelagic seabirds who rely on wind to forage across vast distances. It will also determine how the influence of wind on flight efficiency can impact both behavior and reproductive success. Melinda’s research techniques include using spatial and movement analyses and bio-logging devices (high-resolution movement sensors, GPS, satellite tags) to understand movement and behavior of mobile marine megafauna, primarily seabirds and marine mammals. Fundamentally, her research interests are conservation focused, and include understanding the effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas for protecting mobile marine vertebrates and understanding relative risk/resilience of marine vertebrate species to climate change. When not behind her computer or in the field, you can find Melinda lost in the woods with her dog Tuk.


Google Scholar:


Julia Stepanuk


Julia completed her Master of Science in Marine Science in 2017

Master’s Thesis: Spatiotemporal patterns of short-finned pilot whale and pelagic longline distribution in the Northwest Atlantic: An assessment to inform the management of fisheries bycatch

Check out Julia’s paper on pilot whale-longline overlap published in Fisheries Research

Julia is currently a PhD student in the Thorne Lab and is studying humpback whale predator- prey interactions- Updated bio coming soon!

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