My first forays into ecology were inspired by woods of the southern Appalachians. I was especially excited by both their amazing diversity and the eminent threat that many invasive plant species posed to that diversity. As an undergraduate researcher at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, I completed two independent research projects “Using dendroecological methods to assess the effect of Celastrus orbiculatus Thunb. on Liriodendron tulipifera L. growth” and “Evaluating the efficacy of chemical, mechanical, and combination treatments on Celastrus obiculatus and other non-native shrubs in urban forests”, both of which were fully funded by the University of North Carolina and The Botanic Gardens of Asheville respectively. The findings of some of that work were published in the American Midland Naturalist.