Dr. Tracy Quirk


Woman stands in a wetland with lots of grass, water, and trees in the background.

Office: 3173 Energy, Coast & Environment Building, Baton Rouge LA 70803

Bachelor's Degree: University of Vermont, 1998
Master's Degree: University of Louisiana Lafayette, 2005
Ph.D.: University of Delaware, 2009


Graduate Students

Woman wearing camo and baseball cap stands in front of plants.

     Masters student Elizabeth Harris' research focuses primarily on an analysis of the subsurface processes occurring in the 392 Coastwide Reference Monitoring System (CRMS) sites. An examination of the CRMS sites will provide insight into how these processes impact wetland elevation. In addition, this knowledge may be applicable to marsh resiliency in Louisiana amidst relative sea-level rise.

Man wearing waders stands next to a body of water and the sunset.

     Masters student Derek Jacobs is interested in better understanding the Roseau cane die-back, and the implications for vegetation restoration, through an intensive field survey and a corresponding greenhouse study.


Postdoctoral Researchers

Man with baseball cap holds soil core standing in a grassy field

     Lab associate Alex McClellan, PhD, worked closely with the Quirk Lab while completing his dissertation research, which focused on organic matter development in coastal wetland soils and how its composition may be impacted by different wetland restoration strategies. He is currently studying the impacts of climate-related factors on marine cyanobacteria for his post-doctoral research under Dr. Edward Laws.

Man in a hat and waders carries a bucket in a wetland with tall river canes

     Austin Lynn (PhD, University of Missouri) is studying abiotic stressors implicated in Phragmites australis dieback, and how these change with different flooding levels and across haplotypes. He is also researching ecosystem services of alternative wetland plants for consideration in marsh restoration.

Technicians and Undergraduate Researchers

Woman kneeling in the marsh collecting a soil sample with a spatula and knife

     Catherine Bruns is conducting a seed bank assay on Phragmites australis, which is beneficial to coastal Louisiana areas because it stabilizes the edges of navigation channels, limits erosion, and facilitates high accretion rates. Her project will determine how seed bank compositions and densities vary among stands with different haplotypes of P. australis.

Woman prepares to use pruning shears to cut a Roseau cane Rhizome

     Olivia Hurley is working to understand Phragmites sexual reproductive effort in terms of seed and pollen production in dieback sites compared to healthy sites.

Woman stands on a pvc pipe structure in the marsh (marsh organ)..

 Cian Butler graduated in May 2021 with her B.S. in Microbiology. She is the lab and field technician, and helps out with little bit of everything. Cian is currently working on Phragmites research. 


Former Students

Man with brown hair and glasses stands in a greenhouse with wetland plants

Donnie Day
M.S in Oceanography and Coastal Science, 2021

Current status: PhD student, University of Toledo

Woman in a wetland surrounded by grasses and holding a syringe.

Gina Groseclose
M.S in Oceanography and Coastal Science, 2020 

Current status: Environmental Scientist, US Geological Survey


Woman standing in a marsh

Megan Kelsall
Degree: M.S in Oceanography and Coastal Science

Current status: Environmental Scientist, Prime AE, Baltimore, MD

Man crouches in a grassy wetland, thinking.Debebe Fanta Degree: Professional M.S. 2018 


Woman wearing hat and jacket sits in a grassy field with a laptopKatie Abbott
Degree: M.S. in Oceanography and Coastal Science, 2017
Current Status: PhD Student University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Woman with baseball cap stands in grassland, smiling and holding plastic bags.Shannon Matzke
Degree: B.S. 2017
Current Status: Master’s Student, Georgia Southern University

Man stands in a marsh holding a long orange pole connected to a handheld computer.Andy Muench
Degree: M.S. in Oceanography and Coastal Science
Current Status: Program manager, biologist with USA EPA