Meet the McNicol Lab Group!

Dr. Gavin McNicol

Hello! My name is Gavin McNicol! I’m an environmental scientist who specializes in wetland biogeochemistry and its climate change connections. I love spaceship Earth and I think humans can make it even better by understanding more about how it works. There is still so much we don’t know, and even more we don’t know we don’t know! I work to understand how humans impact flows (or fluxes) of the vital elements for life. Within that, I focus on gas exchanges between the Earth’s land surface and atmosphere in natural, agricultural, and urban environments.

Jack Breiter

Hi! My name is Jack Breiter! I’m currently the Lab/Project manager for Gavin and the group! I received my Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign back in May of 2021. I have a plethora of experiences involved in gas fluxes and chromatography, wet chemistry, soil chemistry and other earth science related topics. My side hobbies include photography, lifting, and discovering new music and food.

Graduate Students

Junior Jules François (MS)

Junior studied at University Antenor Firmin (UNAF) of Cap-Haitien, Haiti, from 2011-2016 where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Agronomy studying the adaptation and yield of two varieties of black bean under the effect of two organic fertilizers (compost and ash) in 2016. After graduation, he worked as a research assistant with the NGO SOIL (Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods) where he participated in the research considering the climate mitigation potential for thermophilic composting of human waste, leading a publication in Nature Climate Change. Junior then became an Assistant Professor in Agronomic Principles at UNAF in 2019, before joining the McNicol Lab at UIC in Fall 2021. He hopes to continue to study the biogeochemical aspects of organic waste in agronomic settings for his Master’s thesis.

Otto Briner (MS)

Jared Ceplo (MS)

Undergraduate Students

Michael Yonker (BS)

Michael is currently a senior in Civil Engineering at UIC and plans on doing a Master’s in the McNicol Lab after he graduates. He helped design the lids that the group used for the soil gas flux chambers they installed at the Nachusa Grasslands and UIC James Woodworth Prairie. Michael enjoys learning new things and is excited to be pursuing a graduate degree soon, and he hopes to one day become a professor in environmental science. When he’s not in class or working in the lab, Michael enjoys doing nature photography and playing video games.

Shamya Pugh (BS)

Hi! My name is Shamya Pugh, and I am an undergraduate lab assistant for McNicol Labs. I earned my Associates Degree in Science from Malcolm X College in 2018 and currently in the last year for my bachelor’s degree in Earth and Environmental Science. Midwest ecosystems and urban corridor communities are some of my favorite areas of research as these key environments for Midwest biodiversity are often overlooked with studies often underfunded. Outside my work with McNicol Labs, I am a peer leader for the Math and Science Learning Center. Hobbies of mine includes knitting, sewing, and playing video games.

Ian Babelonia (BS)

Hi I’m Ian Babelonia and I am an undergraduate from UIC working to earn a bachelor’s degree in Earth and Environmental Sciences. In the lab I primarily work as an aide helping and in turn gaining experience in how gas sampling and field work is done. I also chose to work in the lab due to how it is a project tied to biome restoration and its response which is a topic that I am greatly interested in. For hobbies I like to read, learn to cook new recipes, and go for a walk when the weather is nice enough.

Rylee Fee (BS)

Rylee is originally from South East Ohio and now attends UIC pursuing a major in Earth and Environmental Sciences as well as a minor in anthropology. Outside of her studies Rylee is a member of the women’s cross country and track team. Rylee has thoroughly enjoyed her field work at Nachusa and the UIC James Woodworth prairie and looks forward to all of the future projects at McNicol lab. 

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