Kacey is currently an Assistant Professor of Biology at West Virginia Wesleyan College. Go Bobcats! She is teaching introductory biology, human anatomy and physiology, as well as animal behavior and ecology courses. She is starting up her research program at WVWC and plans to continue working on environmental pollutants, specifically Artificial Light At Night, while at WVWC.
Before becoming a professor, Kacey earned a B.S. in Animal Bioscience and a Minor in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from The Pennsylvania State Univeristy (we are!) in 2009. During her Junior year, Kacey was inspired by her wildlife ecology classes and decided to pursue a career in Ecology. Kacey joined the Master's program at Penn State in 2009 under the supervision of Rich Yahner and Jacqualine Grant.
During her master's, Kacey studied the morphological and physiological effects of long-term and short-term exposure to artificial light at night using mice and salamander populations. Her research found that populations of the white-footed mouse, Peromyscus leucopus, were more abundant in areas that had long-term exposure to night lighting. Furthermore, northern dusky salamanders, Desmognathus fuscus, gained more weight under 24 hour light regimes. These results suggest that despite the potential increase in predation, the potential increase in food availability in lit areas may be increasing fitness in rodent and amphibian populations.
Kacey has also done research on the effects of road salt run-off and global climate change on Bullfrog tadpoles, Rana catesbeiana, in Pennsylvania. In this study, the interaction between climate change and road salt was examined to determine the effect on spring breeding amphibians. Climate change predicts more intense precipitation events that lead to higher concentrations of salt in spring. This could lead to differences in survivorship, growth rates, morphology, behavior, or time to metamorphosis.
After obtaining her M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from Penn State in 2012, Kacey moved to Cleveland, OH to pursue a Ph.D. in Michael Benard's lab. During her time at CWRU, Kacey conducted research to understand how artificial light at night affected larval and juvenile American toad (Bufo americanus) survival, growth, development and endocrine production. Kacey’s experiments include manipulating luminance in both the aquatic and terrestrial environment of American toads and investigating the impacts of increase luminance in each environment as well as across environments to determine carry-over effects of light. Kacey has also continued to investigate the effects of road salt contamination (see press release for more information on conclusions). Her research thus far suggests we may be underestimating the effects of environmental pollutants when ignoring carry-over effects of species with complex life cycles like amphibians.