Kula, Abigail (Active)
Mt. St. Mary's University
Abby became interested in natural history during family vacations visiting natural history museums and natural areas. Then in 1997, she took courses at Cedar Point Biological Station in the Sand Hills of western Nebraska. Taking Natural History of Invertebrates was an influential experience—from learning the excitement of studying the diversity of invertebrates across habitats to meeting her future husband, Washington Biologists’ Field Club member Bob Kula, who was her lab partner in the class. Since that time, she has pursued research experiences in ecology, particularly the impact of insects on plants. As an undergraduate at the University of Nebraska, she returned to Cedar Point for two summers as part of Dr. Svata Louda’s field crew studying the non-target effects of Musk thistle biological control weevils. She completed her BS at Texas A&M University in Entomology in 2000. From there she enrolled in graduate school at Kansas State University and explored the complex interactions between mycorrhizal fungi, host plants and their herbivores in experimental studies in the field at Konza Prairie Biological Station and at the research greenhouse facility. She served as a research assistant on several projects before starting her doctoral studies at Kansas State in 2005 but then enrolling in a PhD program at the University of Maryland in the Behavior, Ecology Evolution and Systematics program in 2006. She completed her dissertation research at Mountain Lake Biological Station in southwest Virginia on the ecology of the pollinating seed predator interaction between Silene stellata (Caryophllaceae) and Hadena ectypa (Noctuidae) and graduated in 2012. Afterward, she started postdoctoral research with Dr. Harmony Dalgleish at the College of William and Mary. The two designed and installed a long-term study of the role of population density and plant-insect interactions on plant demography and population dynamics (with a WBFC grant). Abby joined the faculty at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, MD, in August 2014, in the Environmental Science program of the Science Department. She teaches courses in ecology and environmental science, as well as Biostatistics and Introductory Biology, and serves as the faculty mentor for the campus Women in STEM organization. She enjoys mentoring undergraduates in research projects through coursework and independent research experiences. She is also enthusiastic about exposing non-field oriented students to ecology and environmental biology. She is continuing her research on common milkweed and demographic effects of insects, especially at Blandy Experimental Farm, and is initiating new research at her campus and nature preserves in the Emmitsburg area. Abby lives in Laurel, MD, with her husband, Bob, and two sons. Aside from marking and measuring plants, she enjoys playing with her kids and visiting the zoo and museums, reading, cooking, baking, and rooting for Baltimore Orioles baseball and Nebraska Husker football. She was nominated and accepted to membership in the Washington Biologists’ Field Club in 2015.