Eliza Grames

PhD Candidate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

About me

Current position

I'm a PhD Candidate in Dr. Chris Elphick's lab in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut. I'm broadly interested in using evidence synthesis to improve models in ecology with a focus on conservation. If you want to get in touch or have questions about my research, please feel free to email me at eliza.grames@uconn.edu or get in touch with me through the links below.

Eliza Grames



Improving ecological theory and conceptual models with evidence synthesis

I use a combination of systematic reviews and graph theory to build conceptual models of ecological processes and patterns in order to bring together pieces of evidence from different studies into a complete model of a system. I am also working on ways to improve the process of generating search terms for systematic reviews using keyword co-occurrence networks (KCNs) to identify important keywords, similar to MeSH headings in medical systematic reviews. With KCNs, I am also looking at how fields have developed and changed over time in order to predict future important research topics.

Species interactions, area sensitivity, and animal behavior in fragmented forests

I study why some birds respond negatively to decreasing patch sizes in fragmented forests and the underlying mechanisms of area sensitivity. Because ovenbirds are known to be area sensitive, I study their breeding behaviors, nest site selection, and factors leading to nest failure such as predation, brood parasitism, and low food availability. I am using methods like meta-analytic structural equation modeling (MASEM) and Bayesian path analysis to get at the causal relationships between hypothesized drivers of area sensitivity and bird responses to patch size. These factors can then be used to improve species distribution models for area sensitive birds by incorporating important ecological processes and interactions.


Current undergraduate collaborators and techs

Former techs

Teaching and Workshops

Current Topics in Ecology and Evolution

Instructor of Record, co-instructing with Alex Trouern-Trend, Spring 2019.

General Ecology

Teaching Assistant for Dr. Miranda Davis, Fall 2017, Spring 2019.


Teaching Assistant for Dr. Chris Simon, Fall 2018.


Teaching Assistant for Dr. Margaret Rubega, Spring 2017, Spring 2018.

Structural Equation Modeling "SEMinar"

Informal seminar instructor; modeled after Bill Shipley's seminar on path analysis at the University of Sherbrooke .

Intro to basic stats in R

Informal seminar organizer for graduate students and upper division undergraduate students in ecology and related fields.

Foundations of Biology

Teaching Assistant, Fall 2016.


litsearchr is an R package I developed with collaborators to partially automate choosing search terms and generating search strategies for systematic reviews. Find more out about it on the litsearchr website.

Curriculum Vitae

Download CV as PDF
Eliza Grames
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Connecticut
75 N. Eagleville Rd. Unit 3043
Storrs, CT 06269


Ph.D. Candidate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Connecticut, Chris Elphick, Advisor
Research topic: Evidence synthesis and mechanisms of area sensitivity in forest songbirds

B.S. in Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management, summa cum laude
University of Minnesota, 2013
Honors Thesis: Self-identity and bottled water consumption

B.A. in Professional Strategic Communication - Public Relations, summa cum laude
University of Minnesota, 2013
Honors Thesis: Media coverage of climate-induced migration in Northwest Alaska following Kivalina v. ExxonMobil

B.A. in Communication Studies
University of Minnesota, 2013


Grames, EM. 2018. How Breeding Birds in Connecticut are Studied. Goodwin Conservation Center.

Grames, EM. 2018. The process of process-based model development. University of Connecticut Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) Grad Student Symposium.

Grames, EM. 2017. An integrative model of mechanisms underlying area sensitivity. University of Connecticut Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) Grad Student Symposium.

Grames, EM. 2016. Habitat fragmentation and breeding birds in Connecticut forests. Goodwin Conservation Center.

Grames, EM. 2016. Citizen science and opportunities for involvement in upcoming bird research at UConn. Goodwin Master Naturalist Program.

Grames, EM. 2013. Marketing profile of cultural and historical travelers to the Twin Cities Metro Area. University of Minnesota Tourism Center Tourism Week Symposium. (Poster presentation)

Public Outreach and Education, Volunteer Experience

Connecticut State Science & Engineering Fair, Judge (March 2017)
Windham High School Ask-A-Scientist Program, Visiting Scientist (November 2016)
Connecticut Audubon Center at Pomfret, Bird Banding Volunteer (September - November 2016)
Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship, Banding Assistant (June 2016 - July 2016)
Friends of Sax-Zim Bog American Kestrel Nestbox Project, Monitor and Bander (May 2016 - July 2016)
Wisconsin State Ornithologists Union Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas, Principal Atlaser (May 2016 - July 2016)
St. Louis River Alliance Piping Plover Project, Monitor (May 2016 - June 2016)
Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory, Marketing Consultant (September 2013 - September 2016)
Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory Diurnal Raptor, Owl, and Passerine Banding, Banding Assistant (September 2015 - November 2015)
Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory, Overlook Volunteer (September 2015 - October 2015)
Fossil Free Minnesota, Communications Committee Chair (December 2012 - August 2013)
Riley-Purgatory-Bluff Creek Watershed District, Annual Report Creator (October 2012 - December 2012)
Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), Volunteer Laborer (January, 2011; January, 2012)

Awards and Scholarships

University of Connecticut Outstanding Scholars Fellowship
Robert D. Peterson Award
Robert Henton Fund
Donald V. Hawkins Scholarship
Presidents Distinguished Scholarship
Otto Quale Scholarship
Waller Scholarship
DeBoer-Gore Scholarship

Work Experience

National Academic Quiz Tournaments, Marketing and Data Contractor (September 2015 - August 2016)
Served as a liaison to new schools and coaches, gathered information for promoting tournaments to new teams, updated the database, assisted tournaments with preparations and results reporting, and responded to inquiries from potential quiz bowl tournament hosts.

Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory, Peregrine Watch Naturalist (June 2016)
Educated visitors about the pair of Peregrine Falcons that nest in downtown Duluth, including the natural history of peregrines and information specific to the downtown pair.

Minnesota Academy of Science, Data Manager, Annual Meeting Coordinator, and Communications Specialist (March 2013 - September 2015)
Planned promotional campaigns for scientific programs such as Science Bowl and the State Science and Engineering Fair, maintained a database of all members and program participants, and coordinated the Annual Meeting and Winchell Undergraduate Research Symposium.

University of Minnesota Tourism Center, Communications and Marketing Specialist (November 2011 - May 2013)
Designed and created materials for print and the web, including brochures, posters, postcards, and web content to promote educational programs and services of the Tourism Center.

University of Minnesota Tourism Center, Undergraduate Research Assistant (June 2012 - August 2012)
Interviewed visitors to the Twin Cities metro area and collected questionnaires about visitor experiences in the area for a research project conducted by Andrew Ofstedal and Ingrid Schneider.

Student Unions and Activities Program Board, Committee Chair (September 2010 - May 2012)
Oversaw the University of Minnesota Quizbowl Team by organizing collegiate and high school academic tournaments, planning travel for the team, managing the budget, and facilitating practices.

Plant Management Network, External Relations Specialist (October 2011 - December 2011)
Evaluated social media efforts and developed a strategic communication plan to improve usage of social media, wrote and sent out press releases to media outlets and crop commodity groups about newly available resources and research, and built contact lists of potential partners, sponsors, and research groups.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Watercraft Inspector (May 2011 - September 2011)
Educated watercraft users at public water accesses and the Minnesota State Fair about invasive species threatening Minnesota's lakes and rivers and appropriate steps to take to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.