Current Graduate Students

 

   Alexandra G. Duffy
PhD Biology
Alli is a doctoral student working with Dr. Jerry Johnson. Prior to BYU, Alli received her BS in biological sciences from North Carolina State University and her MS in entomology from Purdue University. Broadly, Alli is interested in animal behavior, chemical communication, and evolutionary ecology. Her research at BYU will investigate how chemical signaling and reception in aquatic organisms diverge in response to predation.
 

   Andrea J. Roth-Monzón
PhD Biology

Andrea is broadly interested in evolutionary ecology, animal behavior, and phylogenetics. Prior to coming to BYU, she completed both her BS and MS at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, where she worked almost exclusively with herps. Her PhD research at BYU focuses on understanding character displacement when more than two species are interacting. She is working with four species of livebearing fishes in the genus Poeciliopsis that occur in western Mexico. Her project is anchored in measuring the results of a natural experiment wherein different combinations of these species have persisted over time. She will also conduct a set of field and laboratory experiments, including some using video animation, to determine how these closely related species are able to coexist. 


Andy Thompson

  Andy Thompson
PhD Biology
Andy is a doctoral student from Seattle, WA, working in Dr. Byron Adams’ lab. He did his bachelor’s degree in microbiology here at BYU, but switched to the biology department for graduate work because he was interested in studying evolution. His dissertation work focuses on protozoa in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica, where he investigates their association with bacteria and the astrobiological implications of their extremophile physiology. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and writing, but especially loves to chat about a broad spectrum of topics and ideas, be they scientific, political, religious, or entrepreneurial in nature. He is also an instructor for the BYU Shotokai Karate Club and loves to play soccer.
 
Anton Suvorov
 
Anton Suvorov 

PhD Biology
Anton graduated from Moscow State University in Russia with a MS degree in entomology in 2009 and then attended the University of Cambridge in the UK to study the genetics of bacterial symbiosis within insects in the Jiggins Lab. in 2011, he joined the Institute of Population Genetics in Vienna, Austria, where he studied infraspecific cis-trans regulatory variation of gene expression in Drosophila pseudoobscura with Christian Schlötterer and Andreas Futschik. He has long been interested in insect genetics, evolution, bioinformatics, and probabilistic approaches in biology, especially Bayesian inference and machine learning algorithms. As a doctoral student at BYU, he is investigating phylogenomics and the evolution of visual systems in Odonata using NGS data under the supervision of Dr. Seth Bybee.
antony.suvorov@byu.edu  |  Google Scholar  |  LinkedIn


 Ashlee Smith

   Ashlee Smith
PhD Biology
Ashlee is a doctoral student working with Dr. Mark Belk. She is a behavioral ecologist studying life history strategies and evolutionary ecology. Her dissertation is focused on transgenerational effects in a species of burying beetles, Nicrophorus marginatus. 
 ashlee.n.smith@gmail.com  |  Research Gate
 


  Brandon Pickett
PhD Biology
Brandon is a doctoral student from Ridgefield, WA, working in Dr. Perry Ridge's lab.  He did his undergraduate work at BYU, studying bioinformatics with minors in computer science and business management.  Brandon is interested in bioinformatics analysis and algorithm development.  When not doing research, he enjoys spending time with his family and being in the outdoors, especially while mountaineering, kayaking, running, fishing, and hunting.  Brandon hopes to graduate before the turn of the decade. 
pickettbd@byu.edu  |  LinkedIn

Bryan Hamilton  
 



Bryan Hamilton
PhD Biology
Bryan is a doctoral student in biology and the wildlife biologist at Great Basin National Park in Baker, Nevada.  Bryan is advised by Dr. Beverly Roeder, and they use stable isotope ecology to integrate conservation biology and resource management. Bryan works on riparian areas, small mammals, and Great Basin rattlesnakes. In his spare time he enjoys hunting, sports, and reading.
@Nv_pyromelana
 


  Bryn St. Clair
PhD Biology
Bryn is a doctoral student in biological science education. She has always loved plants and ecology, and watching students learn science. She is working in Dr. Jamie Jensen’s lab. Her project combines psychology, science, and education. She is studying the best way to help students receive a deep understanding of biology in the college classroom. She is the mother of five crazily wonderful kids that are starting to make their way in this world.  There is not much free time, but when there is, she likes to go on study abroad with her husband.
 

  Clark Dana
PhD Biology
Clark is a dentist-turned-educator.  After 12 years of private practice he joined the faculty at Roseman University of Health Sciences in the College of Dental Medicine. The more he taught, the more he realized he was lacking as an academic. He pursued and was awarded a Master of Education at the University of the Pacific Benerd School of Education and is now working with Dr. Jamie Jensen as a doctoral student in discipline based educational research.  Clark is working on a reformed health science curriculum involving more effective pedagogies combined with early experiential learning. 
 Clint Laidlaw

  Clint Laidlaw
PhD Biology
Clint doesn't like school or the cold, which is ironic because he is in his fourth year of graduate school having done all of his formal education in Colorado and Utah.  While he has no desire to promote global climate change, he has begun work on making education more engaging, relevant, and enjoyable.  Learning should be a joy and there is nothing more amazing and wonderful to learn about than the world around you.  Clint loves to learn, to teach, to spend time in nature, and to be with his wife and son.  He is working on living the dream! 
clintlaidlaw@gmail.com
 

   Dustin Miller
PhD Biology

Dustin is a doctoral student working with Dr. Stephen Piccolo. His interests are in the development and use of computational tools to analyze genomic data to learn more about human disease. He grew up in Springville, Utah, and attended Utah Valley University. As an undergraduate his research was focused on mayfly (Ephemeroptera) phylogenetics. When not doing research, he enjoys spending time with his wife and being in the outdoors.

 

  Gareth S. Powell
PhD Biology
Gareth is a doctoral student working with Dr. Seth Bybee. He completed both his BS and MS degrees in entomology at Purdue University. Gareth's main interests are in Coleoptera Systematics, with a specific focus on the family Nitidulidae (Sap Beetles). With Dr. Bybee, he is investigating the evolution of vision across different feeding behaviors in Sap Beetles. The research utilizes behavioral observations in the field, morphological characters, and large molecular datasets. When not in the field collecting more beetles, he is probably at home curating any previous catch.  
garethpowell@byu.edu  |  Google Scholar  |  Research Gate
 

  Gavin Martin
PhD Biology 
Gavin is a doctoral student working with Dr. Seth Bybee.
 

   Ifeanyichukwu Nwosu
PhD Biology

Ifeanyi is a doctoral student from Amawbia, Nigeria, working with Dr. Stephen Piccolo. His research interests lie in the field of bioinformatics and systems biology. Having obtained both his bachelor’s and master’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Ibadan, he initially joined the Genetics Research Unit, IMRAT, UCH researching the genetics of breast cancer in blacks, before his passion for bioinformatics led him to join the CASS group at IITA analyzing transcriptome data in cassava.  He spends his free time reading sci-fi novels, practicing taekwondo, or riding his sportsbike.
ifynwosu@studentbody.byu.edu  |  LinkedIn  |  Research Gate

 
Joanna Bateman

 

 Joanna Bateman

MS Biology

Joanna is a master’s student currently working with Dr. Duke Rogers. She is from the Pacific Northwest and has lived in both Washington and Oregon. Her main goal is to research mammalian genetics. Her undergraduate work was also here at BYU. Some of her main hobbies (whenever she has free time) include reading sci-fi/fantasy novels, playing the flute, and video games. 


 

  John Allen
MS Biology
John is a master's student working with Dr. John Kauwe on rheumatic heart disease genetics. He is from Mapleton, Utah, and received his bachelor's degree in physiology and developmental biology from BYU. His interests include non-fiction novels, travel, and skiing. 
 


   Josh Verde
MS Biology
 Josh is a master's student working with Dr. Mark Belk on a stable isotope analysis of the food web in Lake Powell. He is from Duchesne, Utah, and he completed his undergrad at SUU in Cedar City. Josh hopes to work as a fisheries biologist after he graduates. His interests are fishing, wildlife photography, hiking, and spending time with his wife and kids. 
 

   Josue Gonzalez Murcia
PhD Biology
Josue is a doctoral student from El Salvador working with Dr. Keoni Kauwe. He is studying the genetic components of neurodegenerative diseases. He finished his BS in genetics and biotechnology with a minor in molecular biology from BYU. In addition he has a BS in agricultural science and a MS in plant genetics from Escuela Nacional de Agricultura in El Salvador. During his spare time, he enjoys having family time, hiking, biking, watching and playing soccer, and listening to music. 
 

  Justin Miller
PhD Biology
Justin is a doctoral student working with Dr. Perry Ridge. For more information see his website below.
ke7gts.com/index.html

 
 
Kevin Lamb

  Kevin Lamb
MS Biology
Kevin is a master’s student working with Dr. Russell Rader. He was born and raised in Goleta, California, and received his BS in biology from the University of California at Santa Barbara. The focus of his research is diel fluctuations of dissolved oxygen in wetlands, with application to the survival of juvenile June Suckers, an endangered fish endemic to Utah Lake and the Provo River. His research seeks to determine which wetland plants and combinations of wetland plants will produce the least amount of diurnal oxygen fluctuation, minimize night time hypoxia, and increase the chance of survival for juvenile June Suckers. When he’s not at school, Kevin is usually with his wife, looking for a game of ultimate frisbee to play or watching soccer.
 
 

  Kevin Ricks
MS Biology
 Kevin is a master’s student working with Dr. Roger Koide. His research focuses on the ecology and evolution of plant-fungal mutualisms. He is interested in questions such as why these mutualisms evolved, why they persist, how they are shaped by the environment, and what impacts they have on the ecology of plant communities. When asked about his research, after a short explanation about studying fungi, he typically says he’s a "pretty fun guy." He likes to run a lot more than he probably should, and dances on occasion even though his advisor makes fun of him for it. 

 
  Kristian Ciarah Cook
PhD Biology
Ciarah is a doctoral student balancing her time between Dr. John Kauwe's Alzheimer's disease and Rheumatic heart disease projects and Dr. Jamie Jensen's education research--why study one thing when you can study a lot of things? She aspires to teach this incredible subject to other university students someday and help them see how amazing the study of life really is. She is from Orem, Utah, and completed her bachelor's degree here at Brigham Young University. When she isn't on campus, she is most likely working on her goal to read one book a week or off on some grand adventure with her husband.   
 

  Lyndsay Staley
MS Biology
Lyndsay is a master's student working with Dr. Keoni Kauwe, focusing on human disease genetics. She graduated from BYU with a BS in bioinformatics and a minor in computer science. She mostly focuses her research on Alzheimer's Disease genetics, but has focused on other diseases in the past and is looking forward to whatever new projects come her way in the future! 
 

   Makani Fisher
MS Biology

Makani is a master’s student working with Dr. Riley Nelson focusing on Lithosiini, or lichen moths. As an undergrad at BYU he learned a lot about aquatic insects. Now he is pursuing a degree in his primary passion, moths. His work will add to environmental, behavioral, and identification knowledge of the poorly understood lichen moths. He is excited to use DNA and HPLC metabolic techniques to discover more about these moths and their unique feeding behavior. 


Muriel Longstaff 
 
Muriel Longstaff
MS Biology

Muriel is a master’s student working in Dr. Clint Whipple’s lab. She did her undergraduate work at BYU and is now studying the developmental genes involved in maize (corn). Her research includes studying the bud development of branches (tillers) that can grow and comparing it to other grasses that may have the same genes suppressing their tiller growth. Her hobbies also include playing sports, doing races ranging from marathons to triathlons, and a deep love for the outdoors. 


 
  Na Yin
PhD Biology
Na is a doctoral student working with Dr. Roger Koide. Her PhD research at BYU focuses on understanding litter decomposition in heterogeneous condition. Heterogeneous mixtures of litter frequently do not decompose the way homogeneous litter does. Decomposition of litter mixtures may be non-additive or, in other words, litter A and litter B do not decompose at the same rate when they are mixed as when they are by themselves. The purpose of her research is to determine the causes of non-additive decomposition. 

 
  Robert Erickson
PhD Biology
Robert is a doctoral student working with Dr. Seth Bybee. He is an insect enthusiast who did his undergraduate work at Utah Valley University, surveying arthropod diversity within a national park (Capitol Reef). His dissertation is focused on creating a phylogeny of Odonata with extinct and extant taxa. 
 

   Scott George
PhD Biology
Scott is a doctoral student working with Dr. Byron Adams. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in biology in 2010 from Brigham Young University and conducted research full-time for several years at CR Foundation with Dr. Gordon Christensen. At this lab he participated in numerous studies, publications in CR Foundation Reports, third-party reviews, R&D consultations, and was lead author and investigator on a proposal securing over $150,000 in external support. Scott’s current research is focused on community ecology and population genetics using Bayesian phylogenetics and GIS data to test his hypothesis of comparative phylogeography of nematodes in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica. He is also very interested in using environmental niche modeling to make conservative predictions about the past, present, and future species' presence and abundance in the Dry Valleys. In his spare time Scott enjoys being with his family and friends, especially in the outdoors. He and his wife enjoy working on their goal of visiting every U.S. National Park.  
 
Summer Xue

 
Summer Xue

PhD Biology
Summer is from China and is working on her doctorate degree under Dr. Byron Adams. Her research focuses on the genomic analysis of Antarctic nematode. She is interested in molecular ecology and evolutionary processes along climate change of Antarctic nematodes genus Plecuts. Her research is a part of LTER and funded by the National Science Foundation. Plectus murrayi is a representative nematode in the genus Plectus, which is one of the most widely distributed and common nematode taxa of freshwater and terrestrial habitats globally. Summer is interested in genus Plectus because of its phylogenetic position and high adaptation in various habitats. Plectus murrayi, a bacteria feeding nematode, inhabits both semi-aquatic and terrestrial land in the Antarctic McMurdo Dry Valleys, and according to previous studies, their distribution is limited by organic carbon and soil moisture. P.murrayi could be recognized as an excellent new model for scientists to build upon due to its broad distribution and phylogenetic position.

 
   Theresa Saunders
MS Biology
Theresa is a master's student working with Dr. Leigh Johnson, and her research focuses on plant phylogeny. As an undergraduate, she majored in biology at BYU, and it was through her undergraduate classes that she discovered a love and fascination for botany and evolutionary science. She is now one of those people who loves to stop and smell the "roses," and hiking with her is never fast, since she is always stoping to examine some plant or another. 
 

  Trevor Williams
PhD Biology
Trevor's interests are focused on the evolutionary and ecological processes that generate diversity as well as conserving that diversity, especially in aquatic habitats. Trevor graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in zoology with an environmental science co-major from Miami University. While there, he conducted research on aquatic amphipods in desert springs of New Mexico and Texas using phylogenetic approaches to uncover cryptic species. His project at BYU aims at uncovering the spatial and temporal phenomena that have shaped diversity in Great Basin aquatic organisms. He hopes to incorporate tools of phylogeography and community ecology to understand not only how changes in geography have altered desert organisms, but also how community structure and assembly have affected the genetic, morphological, and behavioral aspects of desert aquatic species. The information from this project will help with the conservation efforts and management of desert water.  
 


  Yelena Pacheco
MS Biology

Yelena is a master’s student working in the Michael Whiting lab. Her research includes using molecular data to help answer evolutionary questions within the insect order Phasmatodea, or stick insects. She looks forward to learning how to incorporate morphological data into her research as well. Having previously studied both dragonflies and fireflies, Yelena has a great passion for the world of entomology.