Dr. Joy O’Keefe


Current Positions

 Associate Professor,  Department of Biology, Indiana State University

Director, Center for Bat Research, Outreach, and Conservation




Ph.D., Wildlife and Fisheries Biology, 2009, Clemson University

M.S., Biology, 2004, Eastern Kentucky University

B.S., Zoology, 1997, North Carolina State University


My research has mainly centered on finding harmony between management activities that sustain healthy forests and conservation measures that protect forest-dependent bats. I use radio telemetry, acoustic surveys, and modeling to measure bat responses to forest management. I have challenged the assumption that an unmanaged forest provides the best habitat and demonstrated that even forest-dependent bats use harvested areas for roosting and foraging. Further, our data show that the federally endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) may be able to coexist with frequent prescribed fire, as it readily uses fire-adapted tree species as roosts. Uncertainty about the direct and indirect effects of harvests, road building, prescribed fire, and development activities on the Indiana bat, the newly threatened and widespread northern long-eared bat (M. septentrionalis), and other rare bats will continue to drive my applied research studies in forested regions of eastern North America.

Check out my Google Scholar page for publication links.

 As Director of the Center for Bat Research, Outreach, and Conservation, I actively pursue extramural funds for research on bat ecology and conservation issues. Most of this funding comes from state (e.g., Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources) or federal agencies (e.g., USDA Forest Service). Since January 2011, I have procured over 2.5 million dollars in extramural funds for bat research at ISU.

Courses I teach at Indiana State University

Freshwater Biology – upper division and graduate student elective, with field-based lab

Mammalogy – upper division and graduate student elective, with hands-on lab

Human Aspects of Biology – non-majors biology

Principles of Biology Laboratory – first semester majors biology labs


Helped to organize and host annual bat festivals for 500-1600 attendees (2011–2017).

Annually, I give at least 5–10 presentations on bats to lay audiences, including classes, workshop attendees, industry groups, and festival attendees.

Interviews with a variety of media outlets to discuss the Bat Center, our research, and to comment on bat conservation issues.

I regularly field questions from homeowners interested in either attracting bats with bat boxes or discouraging bats from using their human dwellings!

Professional Service

 I have been very involved in bat working groups for the past 10 years; I am Past-President of the Southeastern Bat Diversity Network. I helped found the Myotis leibii Working Group in 2013 and the North Carolina Bat Working Group in 2007. In both 2012 and 2014, I co-hosted the Midwest Bat Working Group meeting at Indiana State University (~120 attendees). In 2014–2015, I helped to organize the first ever Joint North American Bat Working Group meeting in St. Louis, MO (~350 attendees).