We are a research team focused on illuminating the mechanisms that maintain biodiversity in nature and using our understanding to forecast how ecological systems will respond to our changing world. Our approach is broad, bringing together field & lab experiments, natural history, statistics, math, and code.

We are based in the Department of Plant & Microbial Biology at North Carolina State University. During the field season, you may also find us crouched among the wildflowers at the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab or knee-deep in bogs & swamps at the University of Michigan Biological Station.

Research projects

Dynamics, diversity, & function of microbial food webs

What allows species to persist in complex networks of species interactions?

Forecasting population dynamics in changing environments

How will populations behave when the new normal keeps changing?

Global-scale ecology

How do global-scale data change the way we understand ecological systems?

Spatial structure of biodiversity

Why does species diversity and composition differ from place to place?

The Team

Click a person for their research interests, CV, and contact info

Group leader


Will Petry

Assistant Professor

Graduate students


Alden Sears

Ph.D. student


Melina Schopler

Ph.D. student


Nicole Burroughs

Ph.D. student



Zachary Dodd

Undergraduate researcher (2023-present)



E Redick

Field tech, NCSU (2024)



Ben Davis

Summer undergraduate student, RMBL (2023)


Ce Compton

Field tech, RMBL (2022)


Dominique Pham

Summer undergraduate student, RMBL (2022)


Eddie Peabody

Field tech, RMBL (2021)


Emma Wilson

Undergraduate researcher (2023)


Ewa Merz

Masters student, ETH Zurich (2018)


Hope Anderson

Field tech, RMBL (2021)


Jack Snow

Field tech, RMBL (2018-2020)


Lucy Zhang

Undergrad, RMBL (2020)


Maggie Zeh

Summer undergraduate student, RMBL (2021)


Rodrigo Granjel

Visiting Fulbright Fellow (2022-2023)


Sarah Hoffman

Field tech, RMBL (2023)


Sydney Peterson

Undergrad, RMBL (2020)


Val Watson

Field tech, RMBL (2018-2019)


Don’t have access to a PDF? Contact me.

Predicting and controlling ecological communities via trait and environment mediated parameterizations of dynamical models

Abstract Predicting or controlling the state of an ecological community is a core global change challenge.

Rcompadre and Rage—Two R packages to facilitate the use of the COMPADRE and COMADRE databases and calculation of life-history traits from matrix population models

Abstract Matrix population models (MPMs) are an important tool for biologists seeking to understand the causes and consequences of variation in vital rates (e.

Phenotypic plasticity masks range-wide genetic differentiation for vegetative but not reproductive traits in a short-lived plant

Abstract Genetic differentiation and phenotypic plasticity jointly shape intraspecific trait variation, but their roles differ among traits.


Why DICE Lab?


  1. n. A small, usually cube-shaped object with sides displaying a different numeral or number of spots, typically used in games of chance.
  2. v. Cut into small cubes.
  3. v. (Latin) present singular imperative form of the verb dicere, to say or tell, as in the commands “Say!” and “Tell!”

“DICE” is a convenient acronym for our lab name, but it also speaks to the fundamental aims of what we do. First, our research is motivated to understand biodiversity responses to environmental change, transforming uncertainty into accurate understanding. Second, we tackle ecological complexity by breaking problems into component parts, understanding how each functions in turn and how they fit together to build the whole. Finally, the word in Latin invokes our responsibility as scientists to share what we learn and to engage fully in building more just, equitable, and sustainable world.