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Current Grad Students
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Alli Duffy.jpg
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 investigates how chemical signaling and reception in aquatic organisms diverge in response to predation.
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Alexandria Hoth

MS Biology

Alexandria is a master’s student studying with Dr. Mark Belk. She grew up mostly in Ohio, with some time spent in Utah and New York during her early years. She did her undergraduate work at BYU-Hawaii in biology with an emphasis in marine science. Her research focuses on recent growth rates of fish that have been affected by the abundance of quagga muscles (an invasive species) in Lake Powell. When she has any spare time, she likes to read fantasy/historical fiction novels and play her flute.
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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
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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 5 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.
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Clint Laidlaw
PhD Biology

Clint is a doctoral student working with Dr. Jamie Jensen. 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
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Daniel Ferguson
PhD Biology

Danny is from Mapleton, Utah, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in biology from Utah Valley University. While at UVU he researched different factors that influenced a change in the acceptance of evolution among college students. Here at BYU he is a doctoral student working with Dr. Jamie Jensen and looking into ways to help students reconcile evolution with their own religious beliefs or world-views and factors that can affect evolutionary acceptance. When not studying, Danny enjoys reading books and spending time with his wife and kids. They love going on little hikes and looking for all kinds of wildlife, especially birds.
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Doreen Cabrera
PhD Biology

Doreen is a doctoral student from southern California working in Dr. Blaine Griffen's lab. Before pursuing a PhD at BYU, she received a Bachelor of Science degree in organismal biology from California State University of Long Beach and a Master of Science degree in evolutionary and behavioral ecology from the University of Exeter. Doreen is using the cyclically dimorphic virile crayfish to understand the effects of individual variation on population dynamics and life-history evolution. Her work examines how personality shapes the relationship between energetics, metabolic activity, and growth in this unique crustacean. When she is not sitting in front of a computer or tending to the crayfish, you can catch Doreen at one of the local Latin dancing socials!
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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.
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Emily Davis
MS Biology

Emily is a master's student in Dr. Roger Koide's lab studying the environmental pressures on and subsequent adaptations of endophytic fungi. Prior to graduate school, she received a BS in biology from BYU and worked a couple industry jobs before quitting and staying at home with her 2 kids for several years. Her interests include microevolution, climate change, endophytes, and botany. When Emily is not doing schoolwork or lab work, she is playing with her family, knitting, running, or doing all 3 at once.
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Emily Weatherhead
MS Biology

Emily is a master's student working with Dr. Roger Koide. She grew up in Southern California and moved to Utah where she graduated with her Bachelor of Science in biology from BYU. The focus of her research is on the relationships of leaves from native Utah trees and their unique array of endophytic fungi. If there is spare time, she enjoys cooking and baking, critiquing movies with her husband, looking at plants with friends, and corresponding with her family.
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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.
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Gavin Martin
PhD Biology

Gavin is a doctoral student working with Dr. Seth Bybee on the evolution of fireflies. He completed his BS degree at Brigham Young University-Idaho in organismal biology and his MS at Brigham Young University in biology. His main focus is the evolutionary history of fireflies (Coleoptera: Lampyridae). Specifically Gavin is studying the visual system of fireflies, as well as how to better identify these charismatic insects. Additionally, Gavin is working on biology science education and assessing student pro-environmental attitudes. His hobbies include playing board games, fantasy football, and hiking.


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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.
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Jackson Linde
MS Biology

Jackson is a master’s student researching phylogenetics with Dr. Michael Whiting. He is particularly interested in phylogenetic theory and insect systematics. While he loves insects like hymenopterans (wasps) and lepidopterans (butterflies and moths), he is now working with the order Phasmatodea (walking sticks). His dream is to collect insects in every country in the world and unravel the stories their DNA tell - specifically which key evolutionary innovations lead to biodiversity. That understanding will help preserve unique life on earth. When he is not in the lab, you can find him on the volleyball court or in the kitchen pursuing his lifelong goal of baking the perfect macaron.
jackson.linde1859@gmail.com
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Jesse Jorna
PhD Biology
Jesse is a doctoral student from the Netherlands working in Dr. Byron Adams’ lab. He has completed both his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in ecology & evolution from the University of Groningen. During his MSc he specialized in studying varying aspects of changing ecosystems in the Arctic, culminating in a master’s thesis based on fieldwork conducted in the High Arctic Archipelago of Svalbard. His doctoral research will relate to the Antarctic McMurdo Dry Valleys where he aims to investigate the community assembly in habitats opened up by environmental changes, and to predict how the soil ecosystem will respond to potential invasive species. He also likes to play advocate for the Dutch way of life, which includes riding your bicycle everywhere and consuming good cheese.
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Josh Gilman
MS Biology

Josh is a master's student working with Dr. Richard Gill.
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Josh Verde
PhD Biology

Josh is a doctoral student working with Dr. Mark Belk. 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.
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Josue Gonzalez Murcia
PhD Biology

Josue is a doctoral student from El Salvador working with Dr. John 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.
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Justina "Tina" P. Tavana
PhD Biology

Tina is a doctoral student from Samoa/Hawaii working with Dr. John Kauwe. She is studying the genetics of Alzheimer’s disease and rheumatic heart disease.
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Kaitlyn Beard Golden
MS Biology

Kaitlyn is a master’s student working in Dr. Jerry Johnson’s lab. She did her undergraduate work here at BYU in biodiversity and conservation. Her research interests include fish and stream ecology. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her husband, hiking, camping, and playing the violin.
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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.
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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.
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Natalie Saxton
MS Biology

Natalie is a master’s student from central Oregon working with Dr. Seth Bybee. She completed her undergraduate at Brigham Young University, majoring in biology with a minor in environmental science. Natalie is interested in the evolutionary history and systematics of insects, as well as uncovering mechanisms of speciation in diverse lineages. Her current work focuses on describing the diversity of coenagrionid damselflies in the South Pacific while gaining a better understanding of their dispersal and biogeography in the region.
natalie.a.saxton@byu.edu
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Nathan St. Andre
MS Biology

Nathan is a master's student working under Dr. Mark Belk researching Quagga Muscles in Lake Powell and how they affect fish communities. He graduated from Southern Utah University with a degree in zoology. Post graduation Nathan spent a few years in southern Utah working with endangered fish of the Virgin River. This developed his passion for conservation and how non-native species affect local communities. Outside of his work, he is a passionate landscape photographer of the deserts of Utah.
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Peter Searle
MS Biology

Peter is a master’s student working with Dr. Mark Belk. As an undergraduate at BYU, he studied the causes of bimodal growth of lake trout in Fish Lake, Utah, using stable isotopes. His current research is on the larval development of Utah and June suckers. In his spare time, he enjoys guiding for BYU’s fly fishing class or geocaching with this wife.
petersearle94@gmail.com | Research Gate
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Rachel Keuler
PhD Biology

Rachel is a doctoral student working with Dr. Steve Leavitt. She did her undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and she's come to BYU to research lichens and convince others to join the lichen fan club. In her free time, she takes very slow hikes to take pictures of lichens, slime molds, and mushrooms, then posts them on her blog Microcosmia to educate and inspire others.
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Rebeka Greenall
MS Biological Science Education

Beka is a master's student working with Dr. Liz Bailey and Dr. Rick Gill to develop a curriculum to teach about climate change in the Pacific, specifically in Samoa. She did her undergraduate work at BYU-Hawaii and graduated in 2017 with a degree in biology and a minor in biochemistry. She is interested in conservation education and would love to teach people how to care more about the earth and be stewards of the land. Beka grew up in Bozeman, Montana, and calls both Montana and Hawaii home. She loves exploring the outdoors, downhill skiing, mountain biking, and spending time with her husband and family.
rebeka.frome@gmail.com
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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.
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Samantha Anderson
MS Biological Science Education

Sammy is a master's student working in Dr. Liz Bailey's lab and is interested in college-level biology pedagogy. She hopes to find ways to give math instruction in biology in intuitive ways. She received her bachelor's degree in microbiology at BYU and just couldn't bring herself to leave. Sammy grew up in Michigan and Texas, and in her free time she loves reading, playing games with friends, and cuddling her cats.
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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.
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Tavailau Segi
PhD Biology

Tavailau Stau Segi is a doctoral student from Samoa. He is working with Dr. Richard Gill studying the effect of climate change on the inner and fringing reef of Samoa. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in marine biology from BYU-Hawaii. In his spare time he loves to play sports: rugby, volleyball, basketball, soccer, etc., but he doesn't like hiking!
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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.
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Trevor Williams
PhD Biology

Trevor is a doctoral student working with Dr. Jerry Johnson. His 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.
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Veronica Mosquera
PhD Biology

Veronica is a doctoral student from Lima, Peru, working with Dr. Clinton Whipple. She is studying Gilia and is seeking to uncover its morphological evolution. Her undergraduate major was in sciences-agronomy and her master’s degree was in plant breeding. Veronica has been researching how to enhance native potato varieties for higher content of anthocyanins and has been mapping sweet potato populations. She enjoys learning, traveling, singing, dancing, spending time in nature, and being with her 2 sons.
roni_atenea@yahoo.com | LinkedIn | Research Gate | Twitter
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