CEB Committe on Evolutionary Biology

Students

Nadya Ali

Research:

Broadly, I am interested in understanding factors that contribute to the long-term viability as well as extinction risk in endangered species. My research tries to elucidate how environmental impacts on gene expression (epigenetics) contribute to infertility in the endangered black-footed ferret. 

Email: nadyaali at uchicago dot edu

Office: CH 402

Benjamin Blanchard

Research:

I am intrigued by morphological adaptations and their influence on ecological interactions and species divergence patterns. The widespread and diverse ant genus Polyrhachis is ideal for investigating these topics, with species boasting a broad range of morphological types, including some with remarkably developed spines. I will use this charismatic group to address patterns of morphological evolution, including the impacts of specialization on speciation and the ecological functions of spinescence.

Email: bblanchard at uchicago dot edu

Office: Field Museum Insects

Advisor: Corrie Moreau

Website: http://benjaminblanchard.net

Robert Burroughs

Research:

Macroevolution, quantitative morphology, biogeography, evo-devo, and the fossil record of rodents and turtles.

Email: RBurroughs at UChicago dot edu

Office: Anatomy 306

Advisor: Ken Angielczyk and Zhe-Xi Luo

Website: https://www.robertwburroughs.com/

Sophia Carryl

Research:

I am particularly interested in monogamous mating systems, and the outcome of brain, behavior, and physiology due to infertility in birds. I also have a developing interest in sexual selection, as well as brood parasitism in respect to avian behavior and brain.

Email: scarryl at uchicago dot edu

Office: Lincoln Park Zoo

Advisor: Rachel Santymire

Jacob Cooper

Research:

My research is focused primarily on the ecology and biogeography of Central African birds, with projects ranging from general faunistic surveys to theoretical applications of niche theory to phylogenetic analyses of species relationships. I generally study broad scale evolutionary and ecological processes through case studies that clarify our knowledge of species' ecology and relationships to facilitate effective conservation. In 2013, I co-founded the Biodiversity Initiative to help promote research, education, and conservation in Central Africa.

Email: jccooper at uchicago dot edu

Office: Field Museum Birds

Advisor: John Bates

Website: http://www.jacobccooper.com

Peter Flynn

Research:

I am interested in ant trait evolution and diversification using various phylogenetic and comparative techniques. I will be investigating the role of disease dynamics, microbiota, biogeography and symbiosis on ant diversification using a combination of ecological field experiments with genomic and evolutionary analyses.

Email: pflynn at uchicago dot edu

Office: Field Museum Insects

Advisor: Corrie Moreau

Website: https://peterflynnscience.wordpress.com/

Ryan Fuller

Research:

My research concerns the evolutionary factors that result in plant diversity. The challenge of linking evolutionary mechanisms together (i.e., geographic,morphological, and/or pollinator driven) is of high interest to me. The initiation of my interest in this subject stemmed from plant distributions (Gunnison's Mariposa Lily, Calochortus gunnisonii) of the intermountain west in North America. Using genomic and morphological tools, I am interested in uncovering existing differentiation and exploring hypotheses related to why those differences might exist/persist in natural populations.

Email: rsfuller at uchicago dot edu

Office: Field Museum Botany and Morton Arboretum

Abhimanyu Lele

Research:

 I am interested in biogeography and the responses of populations to environmental change. More specifically, I hope to study the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation on population structure in birds. 

Email: abhimanyulele (at) uchicago (dot) edu

Office: Culver 402

Jing-Yi Lu

Research:

I am generally interested in how and why plants and their characters evolve through time and space. The current focus is on how the pollination relationship affects macroevolutionary patterns, namely, diversification, floral evolution, and geographic distribution. Specific topics include the evolution of bird pollination and dissecting the transitions of floral traits.

Email: jingyilu (at) uchicago (dot) edu

Office: CH 402

Website: http://jeffwhile.wix.com/jing-yi-lu

Joel Mercado-Díaz

Research:

My interests revolve around the study of the evolutionary processes that explain the diversity of spore dispersed organisms in tropical insular environments. I am particularly interested in evaluating these ideas by studying lichens, a significantly diverse group of symbiotic organisms that have been traditionally presumed to have cosmopolitan distributions, but that under certain biological and environmental settings (such as those found in islands!), might exhibit other biogeographic patterns, such as restricted (endemic) distributions.

Email: jamercadodiaz at uchicago dot edu

Office: Field Museum Botany

Advisor: Thorsten Lumbsch

Website: https://sites.google.com/site/jamercadodiaz/home

Chloe Nash

Research:

I am interested in examining the systematics, phylogenetics, and biogeography of marine fishes. In particular, I plan to integrate a variety of comparative methods to answer questions regarding phylogeny, rates of diversification/extinction, and distribution patterns among major coral reef associated fish clades.

Email: cmnash at uchicago dot edu

Office: Culver 101

Advisor: Mark Westneat

Benjamin Otoo

Research:

I'm particularly interested in the ecological aspects of faunal turnover in the fossil record, especially in light of major events such as mass extinctions, but also during more normal intervals. When we see faunas change in composition, how much do ecological roles and relationships change, and how does this relate to diversity and the evolutionary stories of different groups? More recently I've also developed an interest in using biomechanics and functional anatomy to try and understand the morphological and ecological evolution of tetrapodomorphs, particularly the basal predatory fish forms.

Email: botoo at uchicago dot edu

Office: Culver 301

Advisor: Michael Coates

John Park

Research:

intersection between life history evolution and community ecology; temporal diversity; seasons; species-to-species interactions in changing climates

Email: johnspark at uchicago dot edu

Office: Zoology 401

Advisor: J. Timothy Wootton

Website: http://www.johnparkbiology.com

Natalia Piland

Research:

urban ecology and evolution, biodiversity, nature conservation, neotropical birds

Email: npiland at uchicago dot edu

Office: Field Museum Birds

Advisor: John Bates

Website: https://sites.google.com/view/nataliapiland/

Tristan Reinecke

Research:

My primary research interests involve the evolutionary history of pre-mammalian synapsids, with a specific focus on limb morphology and biomechanics.

Email: treinecke at uchicago dot edu

Office: Culver 402

Mariah Wild Scott

Research:

The evolution of traits influenced by environmental conditions and life history of the organisms, using bivalve mollusk shells.

Email: mwscott at uchicago dot edu

Office: Culver 402

Heather Skeen

Research:

My primary research interests are in the evolution and biogeography of parasites of birds.

Email: hskeen at uchicago dot edu

Office: Field Museum Birds

Advisor: Shannon Hackett

Daniel Smith

Research:

theoretical ecology; combining principles from community ecology with life history theory; how the interplay of biotic and abiotic factors affects life history evolution

Email: smithdj4 at uchicago dot edu

Office: Culver 402

Brooke Weigel

Research:

I am generally interested in the community assembly of host-associated microbial symbionts, and how microbial symbionts affect larger ecological processes through nutrient cycling. My research aims to characterize the symbiosis between microbes and giant canopy-forming kelps in Washington state, as well as understand the role that the kelp microbiome plays in coastal nutrient cycling and productivity. I am also using the unique evisceration and regeneration capacity of sea cucumbers as a novel system to study the colonization and succession of the gut microbiome in Woods Hole MA. 

Email: brookeweigel at uchicago dot edu

Office: Zoology 401

Advisor: Catherine Pfister

Website: http://brookeweigel.weebly.com