Graduate Students

Spencer Hardy

Spencer is fascinated by the complexity of the natural world, and is especially drawn to the underappreciated taxa. His academic interests center around biodiversity conservation, agroecology, and parasitology, whereas his free time is consumed with insect photography, gardening, foraging, and skiing. His favorite foods come from the genus Physalis (ground cherries and tomatillos).


Undergraduate Students

Londyn Crenshaw, ’22

Londyn is interested in food media and recipe developing. She also enjoys sustainable design and thinking about making sustainability a more inclusive and accessible space. Her favorite food is anything she is baking at 12 am!


Ella Marden, ’23

Ella is interested in how we can develop solutions to the climate crisis at the intersection of the sciences and social sciences. She is working with Professor Ong on a project to implement a vertical farming system in Fairchild. Their project looks to build off of existing technology and knowledge of aeroponics and hydroponics to construct a system that is both sustainable and self-maintaining. The farm will also provide ongoing educational and research opportunities. As to her favorite food, she loves fresh nectarines!


Lucas Rathgeb, ’22

Lucas is interested in ecological agriculture, food systems change, sociology, geography, and outdoor skills. He is currently working on a project which explores agroforestry transitions in New England agricultural landscapes. His favorite food is pine cones (just kidding, it’s fruit salad).


Brandon Zhou, ’22

Brandon is from Vancouver, Canada and majors in Government and Linguistics modified with Neuroscience. He is interested in working with heritage communities and at the intersection between language and policy. On campus, Brandon is involved with the Center for Social Impact and the Admissions Office. His favorite food is ramen.



Alana Danieu, Lab Manager

Alana is excited about integrating qualitative and quantitative research to better understand complex relationships between social and ecological systems within the world of food. Her academic background is in statistics, but her favorite aspect of scientific research involves listening to and telling a lot of stories. She loves any breakfast sandwich, but especially one from the Elm Street Bakery.


Tiger Lilly, Master of Sass

Interests include agroecological production of catnip and cheesecake.

Follow her on instagram @tigergoodstripe

We are just getting started and looking for new members.

We take an interdisciplinary approach to our research— bridging the fields of ecology, political science and environmental studies by combining theoretical, experimental, and observational approaches in our work.

We believe that science should be broadly accessible and always endeavor to engage with the public and increase representation of underrepresented minorities.

Current interests in the Ong Lab include urban agriculture, biological control, critical transition theory, socio-ecological modeling, biocomplexity and spatio-temporal synchrony, but we are always open to new projects!

Contact Theresa W. Ong if you are interested in joining the lab!