Dissertation Defenses

Doctoral students who have an upcoming dissertation oral defense are posted here. So why not take this opportunity to learn about the research that our graduate students are doing!

Dissertation Defense for Jennifer Walsh


Department Contact Email: nress.phd@unh.edu

Defense Title: Hybrid Zone Dynamics between Saltmarsh (Ammodramus Caudacutus) and Nelson’s (Ammodramus Neloni) Sparrows

Defense Date and Time: 07/09/15 1:00 pm

Defense Location: James Hall, Room G54

Defense Advisor: Dr. Adrienne Kovach

Defense Abstract: My dissertation focuses on characterizing a hybrid zone between two tidal marsh endemics, the Saltmarsh and Nelson's Sparrow, which overlap and hybridize in marshes from Maine to Massachusetts. Using a combination of molecular methods, habitat characterization, and traditional field data I have assessed hybrid zone stability by investigating five key aspects zone dynamics: 1) correlations between phenotype and genotype; 2) patterns of selection and differential introgression; 3) association between environment and hybrid distribution; 4) hybrid fitness; and 5) temporal stability. My findings are discussed in terms of evolutionary and conservation implications for these species.


Dissertation Defense for Cynthia Kallenbach


Department Contact Email: nress.phd@unh.edu

Defense Title: Microbial Influences on Decomposition and Soil Organic Matter Formation in Agricultural Soils

Defense Date and Time: 07/10/15 12:30 pm

Defense Location: James Hall, Room G54

Defense Advisor: Dr. Stuart Grandy

Defense Abstract: Intensive agricultural management often depletes soil organic matter (SOM), the largest terrestrial carbon (C) pool, and reversing or preventing this trend remains a major global challenge. Agricultural strategies for building SOM typically rely on increasing C inputs to soil but the effectiveness of this as a C sequestration strategy has been inconsistent. This is in part because the influence of soil microbial communities on the fate of C inputs is often overlooked and poorly understood, especially in response to changes in agricultural management. My research is centered on understanding the interactions of soil microbial communities and agricultural land use on microbial decomposition and the formation and stabilization of microbial-SOM. Results from this work demonstrate that historical contingencies are important controls on microbial decomposition and that agricultural systems which facilitate the transformation of plant C into microbial biomass may be an effective alternative strategy for building SOM. Thus, in managing agricultural soils for C sequestration, we should go beyond simply C input quantity and consider how influences of land-use history and microbial physiology affect the fate of C inputs and subsequently SOM formation.


Dissertation Defense for Alex Parkhouse


Department Contact Email: deena.peschke@unh.edu

Defense Title: "Nobody Wants To Feel Different...But It's Just the Way It Is": Experiences of Stigma and Other Stressors among People Living with Psoriasis

Defense Date and Time: 07/17/15 10:00 am

Defense Location: McConnell 103

Defense Advisor: Dr. Heather Turner

Defense Abstract: It is understood that stigmatizing processes can, and do, affect multiple domains of life among people who bear a stigma label. It is also understood that sources of stress (stressors) can spill over into a variety of areas of life, impacting the health and well-being of stigmatized people. However, although both stigma research and stress research advance, little has been done to connect these two important lines of sociological inquiry. To address this gap, 23 semi-structured qualitative in-person and telephone interviews were conducted to examine the daily, lived experiences of stigma and other stressors among people living with psoriasis (PLWP), a group of people with one of the most common chronic skin conditions (CSC). A grounded theory approach to emergent narrative themes was utilized to uncover the variety of ways that stigma operates in the stress process framework, including how stigma-related stress proliferates into many domains of life, and how PLWP attempt to manage and cope with stigma and other psoriasis-related stressors. Findings revealed that the multidimensional nature of psoriasis shapes the meaning(s) PLWP attach to their CSC; psoriasis-related stigma operates as a stressor that is often chronic, permeating the daily life of PLWP and contributing to the development of an “psoriasis identity”; and PLWP utilize, to varying degrees of success, personal and social resources such as coping and social support in efforts to reduce stressful circumstances and their distressing outcomes. Data presented in this dissertation contribute to our understanding of stigma, social stress, and health processes among PLWP as well as other stigmatized groups of people suffering from chronic illness.


Should you wish to cancel, make changes, or have problems with this form, please email the Graduate School with any changes or questions. Please be sure to include your name and which events you signed up for (or wish to sign up for).