Lab Members

KZLab Summer 2019


Kelly R. Zamudio

Professor, Department of Integrative Biology, UT Austin. Endowed Fellow, Doherty Chair in Molecular Biology. kelly.zamudio (at) austin (dot) utexas (dot) edu

My research is in the fields of population biology, population genetics, systematics, and the genetics of conservation. I am particularly interested in the links between patterns of geographic genetic differentiation and attributes of the ecology and life history of organisms such as mating systems, dispersal, and demography. In my research I combine field and laboratory (molecular) approaches to answer questions about organisms, their environments, and their histories.

Rebecca Clemons

PhD student at UT Austin; rclemons(at)utexas(dot)edu

I am interested in wildlife disease ecology with a focus on the amphibian pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. This pathogen threatens amphibians worldwide, and is an exciting opportunity to study a fungus that infects vertebrates. I want to know what genetic factors drive host susceptibility and pathogen virulence, and how those factors impact one another. Ultimately, I would like my research to contribute to the conservation of threatened amphibian species.

Céline Carneiro

PhD student at UT Austin; celine.c(at)utexas(dot)edu

I am interested in exploring how environmental change will influence population dynamics and adaptive potential of amphibians. Specifically, I want to identify important genomic drivers of resilience, or lack thereof, in amphibians threatened by altered landscapes and climate change. My goal to use contemporary and historic data to predict future population dynamics as environmental threats progress over time. 

Britt White

PhD student at UT Austin; bawhite(at); co-advised by Justin Havird

My research focuses on adaptive genetic variation across landscapes, and the influence of gene flow, on phenotypic diversification. I use phylogenetics, biogeography, and landscape genetics to study variation in amphibians and reptiles. Specifically, my dissertation research focuses on signal color polymorphisms across the range of desert tree lizards (Urosaurus ornatus).

Jordan Garcia

PhD candidate at Cornell University; jg2266(at)cornell(dot)edu

My research incorporates methodologies from animal behavior, population genetics, animal physiology, and genomics to investigate the mechanisms of local adaptation. I want to understand the evolution of thermal tolerance in ectotherms to better predict species distributions and potential for success in response to climate change. Spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) are an excellent system because they are small-bodied, widespread, well-studied, and not endangered. This allows me to study populations across large distributions and bring animals into the lab for controlled experiments.

Maria Akopyan

PhD candidate at Cornell University; ma2256(at)cornell(dot)edu; co-advised by Nina Overgaard-Therkildsen

I am broadly interested in ecological and evolutionary genomics, with a focus on understanding the mechanisms underlying adaptation and divergence in natural populations of vertebrate species. Currently, I am working on characterizing the genomic architecture of local adaptation with gene flow in Atlantic silversides. Specifically, I am describing structural variation between locally adapted populations and identifying genomic regions that underlie adaptive traits. My goal is to understand the roles of ongoing genetic adaptation and distribution shifts in promoting species persistence in our rapidly changing world. [Maria’s Website]

David Chang Van Oordt

PhD candidate at Cornell University; dac385(at)cornell(dot)edu; co-advised by Maren Vitousek

I am interested in how infectious diseases play a role in host population dynamics and how hosts respond to pathogens to offset costs of infection. My research focuses on how individual variation in pathogen resistance affects a bird’s ability to survive, reproduce and migrate; and how this ultimately affects parasite transmission across scales. I study Avian Malaria in temperate and tropical swallows to see how different birds use different strategies to cope with infectious diseases.

Anat Belasen

NSF Post-doctoral Fellow, UT Austin; abelasen(at)

I am interested in the evolutionary and genetic mechanisms behind variation in disease susceptibility in vulnerable wildlife host species. For my postdoc research, I plan to investigate the genetic mechanisms of susceptibility/resistance to the frog pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). I will identify candidate resistance genes and evaluate whether evolutionary changes have occurred in these genes following Bd epizootics. By identifying the genetic mechanisms of Bd resistance, we can more effectively mitigate and predict future Bd outbreaks. [Anat’s Website]

Lina Arcila Hernandez

Active Learning Initiative (ALI) Post-doctoral Fellow, Cornell University; lma84(at)cornell(dot)edu

I am interested in studying how active learning strategies and inclusive teaching practices improve learning for students in STEM online courses. As an ALI Post-doctoral Fellow, I am applying and assessing active learning strategies in a new online course where students are introduced to evolution and diversity concepts. I am also interested in comparing if the efficacy of these active learning strategies differ between online and in-person courses.

KZLab Alumni

Post Docs:

Ph.D. Graduates:

Researchers and Visiting Scholars

  • Carla Martins Lopes, Post-doc, UNESP Rio Claro, São Paulo, Brazil
  • Miranda Gray, Science Educator, Queen’s Botanical Garden
  • Fabio Perin de Sá, PhD Student, UNESP Rio Claro, São Paulo, Brazil
  • Renato Nali, UNESP Rio Claro, São Paulo, Brazil
  • Gabriel Faggioni, Universidade Federal Mato Grosso do Sul
  • Thais Condez, UNESP Rio Claro, São Paulo, Brazil
  • Amanda Santiago Lantyer Silva, UNESP Rio Claro, São Paulo, Brazil
  • Valorie Titus, Assistant Professor, Green Mountain College
  • Juliana Zina, Universidade Estadual do Sudoeste da Bahia – UESB
  • Tereza Thomé, UNESP Rio Claro, São Paulo, Brazil
  • Christine Voyer, Science Education, Gulf of Maine Research Institute