Facebook pixel

Linda Tucker Serniak, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Botany

Biological and Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Turock School of Arts and Sciences

Capwell Science 311


As a child and teenager, I wanted to be everything. An artist, a veterinarian, a dog trainer, a writer, an astronomer, a musician, a video game designer, a radio DJ… the list goes on. By the time I went to college, I absolutely did not have any more clarity in what I wanted to do with my life. I began my academic career in computer science, but quickly changed my major to English, which was then followed by information technology, computer forensics, and anthropology.

One thing that has been constant throughout my life is my love of the outdoors. I grew up hiking, camping, and fishing, and I had been a member of my school’s ecology club, yet it never occurred to me that I could do that as a career. Then one day I discovered the environmental programs at Keystone College, and I thought to myself, “well, why not try that?” So I came to Keystone, just 10 minutes down the road from where I grew up, and found exactly what I was looking for in life!

While at Keystone, I discovered a love for plants as well a fascination with invasive species. This carried over into my master’s program where I studied the effects of the invasive shrub Japanese Knotweed on riparian bird communities, and I later studied invasive earthworms and their impacts on leaf litter and soil nutrient pools in different agroecosystems for my Ph.D. I continue to study invasive species in a variety of terrestrial ecosystems.

I also love teaching and had the opportunity to complete a Graduate Certificate in College and University Teaching alongside my doctoral studies. I also completed the requirements for all three certification levels offered by the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL): Associate, Practitioner, and Scholar. These experiences have helped me become a better teacher and I am always looking for ways to improve my classroom and engage my students!

Education – Degrees & Certifications

Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences, Oregon State University, 2021

Graduate Certificate in College and University Teaching, Oregon State University, 2018

M.S. in Biology, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, 2015

B.S. in Environmental Biology, Keystone College, 2013

“Teaching at the place where I was a student is a really special experience, but Keystone is extra special to me because of how I came to Keystone as a student. My professors at Keystone welcomed me and my colorful background to the college and supported and guided me as I learned how to be a scientist and learned what I wanted to do with my life. The faculty we have here today are just as welcoming and supportive to our students, and it’s kind of like a big family!”

Linda Tucker Serniak, Ph.D.

  • Introduction to Field Biology
  • General Biology
  • Botany
  • Dendrology
  • Mycology
  • Stream Ecology
  • Forest Ecology

My research interests are primarily tied to invasive species, especially shrubs and earthworms. While not all non-native species cause problems, the ones that become invasive have negative impacts on local ecosystems, human health, or even the economy! I am personally interested in how these species affect the ecological communities of the places they invade, especially the species composition of the surrounding community and what mechanisms may be at play. I am also interested in how invasive species might change the physical properties of ecosystems and how multiple invasive species co-invading might have different effects than single species invasions.

Serniak LT, Rohloff P, Agnew CCA (2023) Amur Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) increases abundance and diversity of shrub-dwelling arthropods and birds in forest edge habitat. Journal of Ornithology 164: 943-951. doi: 10.1007/s10336-023-02064-w

Serniak LT, Chan SS, Lajtha K (2023) Predicting habitat suitability for Amynthas spp. in the United States: a retrospective analysis using citizen science data from iNaturalist. Biological Invasions 25: 817-825. doi: 10.1007/s10530-022-02947-8 

Serniak LT (2017) The Effects of Earthworms on Carbon Dynamics in Forest Soils, Reference Module in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences, Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-409548-9.10670-0 

Serniak LT, Corbin CE, Pitt AL, Rier ST (2017) The effects of Japanese Knotweed on avian diversity and function in riparian habitats. Journal of Ornithology 158(1): 311-321. doi: 10.1007/s10336-016-1387-6 

Serniak LT (2016) Comparison of the allelopathic effects and uptake of Fallopia japonica phytochemicals by Raphanus sativus. Weed Research 56: 97-101. doi: 10.1111/wre.12199