Lab Members

KZLab Summer 2019


Kelly R. Zamudio

Goldwin Smith Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; kelly.zamudio(at)cornell(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.

Cinnamon Mittan

PhD Candidate; csm259(at)cornell(dot)edu

I am interested in the interplay of evolution and plasticity in local adaptation. Particularly, how organisms respond to sudden environmental changes, for example, through species introductions. I use a combination of fieldwork, physiological experiments, population genomics, and transcriptomics to investigate rapid adaptation in the widely introduced cane toad, Rhinella marina. I am studying the plastic and evolutionary components of adaptation to cold in their introduced range in Florida. I am motivated by the conservation implications of adaptation in invasive species, as well as urban ecology and evolution more broadly.

Cait McDonald

DVM/PhD candidate; cam435(at)cornell(dot)edu

I am broadly interested in how selection and adaptation shape host-pathogen interactions, and how we can leverage knowledge of these processes to optimize infectious disease outbreak response and management strategies. As a DVM/PhD candidate, I am excited to integrate disease ecology and evolution with Planetary Health approaches. My dissertation research investigates amphibian host responses to chytrid fungus over multiple time scales using a combination of field sampling, laboratory infection trials, transcriptomics, and population genomics. [Cait’s Website]

Jordan Garcia

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

My research incorporates methodologies from animal behavior, population genetics, animal physiology, and transcriptomics 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; 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; 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

Smith Post-doctoral Fellow; amb684(at)cornell(dot)edu

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]

Nicole Chodkowski

Active Learning Initiative (ALI) Post-doctoral Fellow;

I am a Cornell Active Learning Initiative (ALI) postdoc working to transition Herpetology, Entomology and Plant Evolution courses from traditional lecture courses to active learning classrooms. I am restructuring these courses by creating modules/activities that give students both conceptual and practical skills in broad ecological and evolutionary topics such as phylogeny and evolution, biogeography, and diversity using specific examples relevant to each course. I am interested in studying how implementing active learning strategies improve student learning of ecological and evolutionary concepts.

Lina Arcila Hernandez

Active Learning Initiative (ALI) Post-doctoral Fellow; 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