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University of California Los, Angeles, 9/2017 - 10/2023

PhD in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, GPA: 4.0

  • Dissertation Title: The effects of temporal variation in precipitation on plant coexistence in an annual grassland community

  • Tropical Plant Systematics field course in Costa Rica, Organization for Tropical Studies

Carleton College, Northfield, MN, 6/2013

BA, Biology, Magna cum laude, Cumulative GPA: 3.52, Major GPA: 3.70 

  • Undergraduate Thesis: Increased nitrogen deposition in boreal peatlands reduces carbon sequestration due to changes in species composition and increased decomposition rates.

Research Experience

Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

Postdoc working with Dr. Carrie Havrilla in the Dryland Ecology and Management Lab, 10/2023-present

  • Leading cross synthesis analysis of dryland restoration outcomes in Conservation Reserve Program land in Colorado, Montana, and Utah.

  • Experimenting with climate-adaptive functional trait based approaches to dryland restoration.  

University of California, Los Angeles                                             

   PhD student in Dr. Nathan Kraft’s Plant Community Ecology Lab, 9/2017 – 10/2023   

  • Led two large water manipulation experiments in a southern California grassland.

    • Built and designed rainout shelters, planned and sowed 140 experimental plots, tracked 1600 plants over the course of a growing season.

    • Measured key functional traits such as specific leaf area, specific root length, maximum height, canopy shape, seed mass, and flowering phenology for 23 species.  

  • Performed extensive statistical analyses in R parameterizing population growth and competition models, fitting regression models, using bootstrapping techniques, etc.

Research Technician in Dr. Nathan Kraft’s Lab, 7/2016 – 7/2017

  • Processed, organized, and performed viability tests on seeds from 18 serpentine grassland annuals in preparation for trait gardens and competition experiment at Sedgwick Reserve, UCSB.

  • Planted over 200 competition plots and trait gardens with serpentine annuals at differing densities in various soil conditions.

  • Collected data on competitors and seed production in competition plots.


Student Conservation Association, AmeriCorps, Barstow, CA

Desert Tortoise Research Assistant, 3/2016 – 6/2016

  • Recorded detailed data on tortoise behavior, microhabitat selection, vegetation and climate for research investigating the effect of translocation on social interactions and disease transmission.

  • Tracked tortoises using telemetry at four field sites in the Mojave Desert.

Carleton College, Northfield, MN

Research Assistant for Professor Daniel Hernandez, Biology, 8/2012 - 11/2012

  • Studied impact of mammal herbivory exclusion on plant composition and soil processes.

Research Assistant for Professor Bereket Haileab, Geology, 6/2011 - 10/2011

  • Investigated the effects of agriculture and urbanization on surface water quality of Rice County


Van Dyke M.N., Levine, J.M., & Kraft N.J.B., Small rainfall changes drive substantial changes in plant coexistence. Nature 611, 507–511 (2022).

Research Talks

Van Dyke M.N., Levine, J.M., & Kraft N. J.B., California annual plant community demographic responses to long term variation in climate - implications for coexistence and global change, contributed talk at the Ecological Society of America (ESA) meeting, August, 2022, Montreal, QC

- contributed poster at the California Native Plant Society Conference, October 2022, San Jose, CA

Van Dyke M.N. & Kraft N.J.B., How changes in phenology affect coexistence in an annual grassland, contributed talk at ESA, August, 2021, remote

Van Dyke M.N., Kleinhesselink A., & Kraft N.J.B., Small changes in rainfall drive large shifts in competition and species coexistence in an annual grassland community. Contributed talk at ESA, August 2020, remote

Van Dyke M.N., Kleinhesselink A., Kandlikar G., & Kraft N.J.B., Changes in precipitation alter species coexistence, contributed talk at Sedgwick Reserve’s Research Symposium, September 2019, Santa Ynez, CA

Van Dyke M.N., Kandlikar G., & Kraft N.J.B., Do competitors drive intraspecific trait shifts? An experimental test with serpentine annuals,” late breaking poster at ESA, August 2017, Portland, OR

Van Dyke M.N., English. L, Haileab B., Geochemical analysis of surface water quality in Rice County, MN, contributed poster at Geological Society of America meeting, October 2011, Minneapolis, MN

Honors and Funding

  • California Native Plant Society conference scholarship 2022

  • UCLA Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Departmental Research Grant, February 2018, June 2019, June 2020.

  • UCLA Vavra Quarter Fellowship, June 2018, June 2019, June 2021

  • La Kretz Center at Sedgwick Reserve Funding Award, September 2018

  • California Native Plant Society Conservation Conference Student Funding Award, February 2018

  • The Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals’ New Professional Conference Scholarship, May 2015

  • Carleton College Magna Cum Laude Graduate, June 2013


University of California, Los Angeles

Volunteer docent for the UCLA Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden, 9/2016 – 3/2020

  • Lead hour-long tours of the botanical garden for k-12 students detailing plants and adaptations.

Undergraduate research mentor, 9/2018 – present

  • Took the UCLA Entering Mentoring Training program, Spring 2019

  • I have worked with 8 undergraduate students at various times advising on project ideas, reading, writing process, and field work.

  • Mentored multiple senior thesis projects including one that assessed how precipitation affects intraspecific leaf and root functional trait changes in serpentine annual plants, and another that used iNaturalist data to look for flowering phenology changes in California.

Teaching Experience

University of California, Los Angeles                                                                 

Teaching Assistant: 9 quarters

Plant Ecology, EEB 161, Fall quarter 2018, 2019 and 2021, Winter 2021

Restoration Ecology, EEB 136, Spring quarter 2019 and 2020

Tropical Ecology, EEB 151, Fall 2020

Plants and People, EEB 187, Spring 2022

  • Led outdoor restoration labs, discussions, and review sessions; created lesson plans, quantitative worksheets and reading homework; graded midterms, lab reports, and research papers.

  • Helped transition classes to online format during the pandemic.

  • CIRTL certification

The Mountain Institute: Spruce Knob Mountain Center, Circleville, WV

Intern Instructor, 8/2013 - 11/2013

  • Created lesson plans and taught outdoor education courses in stream ecology, forest ecology, geology, orienteering and general camping and survival skills to students ages 10 to 18.

Carleton College, Northfield, MN

Teaching Assistant for Introduction to Geology, 8/2011-11/2011

  • Supervised student laboratory investigations, provided one-on-one tutoring and graded assignments.

Education Classes

  • UCLA, Grad PD 496A, Introduction to Evidence-based Undergraduate Teaching, Fall 2021

  • UCLA, EEB 495, Teaching Assistant Training Seminar, Winter 2018

  • UCLA, CIELS, Entoring Mentoring Training Program, Spring 2018

  • National Outdoor Leadership School, Outdoor Educator Course, Tucson, AZ, Winter 2016

Professional Experience

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, AmeriCorps, Saint Paul, MN

Planning Specialist, Division of Parks and Trails, 1/2015 – 12/2015

  • Co-authored master plans and plan amendments for Minnesota State Parks and Trails that will serve as guidance documents for park staff for the next twenty years.

  • Developed strategies for implementing new projects such as constructing bicycle trails and snowmobile trails in Minnesota State Parks.

  • Created maps of parks, new trails, and surrounding communities using GIS.

  • Organized four open house meetings to gain input from public to formulate master plans.

Conservation Corps of Minnesota, AmeriCorps, Saint Paul, MN 

Youth Outdoors Field Crew Member 2/2014 - 12/2014

  • Preserved and restored native plant communities in St. Paul Parks by removing invasive species, planting native species, performing prescribed burns, and completing plant and animal surveys.

  • Led crews of Saint Paul teens in educational activities and service-learning projects to enhance St. Paul Parks and encourage environmental stewardship.

  • Planned educational activities and created lesson plans on conservation, ecology, sustainability, teambuilding, and leadership for an environmentally focused after-school program.

Carleton College Arboretum

Restoration Management Assistant, 6/2012 - 9/2012

  • Planted native species, removed invasive species, built trails, and executed management tasks aimed at restoring and preserving the native prairie ecosystem in Carleton’s 900-acre arboretum.

Skills and Certifications

  • Proficient in R for data management and statistical analysis

  • Teaching: Proficient in Canvas, Microsoft suite, Zoom, Box

  • Wilderness First Aid for Field Services certification, January 2020

  • Orienteering skills using topographic maps, compasses, or GPS

  • Field Ecology Skills: Assess floral cover and diversity, Species Identification using field guides and dichotomous keys, Experience measuring plant functional traits, Telemetry, Animal behavior observations (focal animal sampling, time budgets, ethogram generation).

  • 500 plus hours of chainsaw operation

  • Wildland Firefighter Type II certification, March 2014

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