Skip to main content
Current Grad Students
Alexandra G. Duffy
Alli Duffy.png

Ph.D. 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.
Alexandria Hoth
Current Grad Students/Alexandria Hoth_0.jpg

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.
Alexis Catherine Garretson
Current Grad Students/Alexis Garretson.jpg
MS Biology

Alexis is a master's student working with Dr. Blaine Griffen. Before coming to BYU, she received a Bachelor of Science in biology from George Mason University in Virginia. After completing her undergraduate degree, she was a post-baccalaureate researcher in the Department of Biostatistics at Harvard and an affiliate researcher with Boston Children's Hospital. Her research interests are in developing models of complex ecological systems and making legacy data more accessible for modern data mining. In her free time, Alexis enjoys cooking, hiking, and swimming.
Andy Thompson
Current Grad Students/Andy Thompson.jpg
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.
Brandon Pickett
Current Grad Students/Brandon Pickett1.jpg
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.
Bryn St. Clair
Current Grad Students/Bryn St. Clair.jpg
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.
Clark Dana
Current Grad Students/Clark Dana.jpg
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
Current Grad Students/Clint Laidlaw.jpg
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!
Daniel Ferguson
Current Grad Students/Danny Ferguson_0.jpg
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.
Doreen Cabrera
Current Grad Students/Doreen Cabrera_0.jpeg
<h5 class="cms-heading-h5">PhD Biology</h5><br>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 danc...
Dustin Miller
Current Grad Students/Dustin Miller.png
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
Current Grad Students/Gareth Powell.jpg
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.
Gavin Martin
Gavin Martin.jpg
PhD Biology

Gavin is a doctoral student working with Dr. Seth Bybee.
Ifeanyichukwu Nwosu
Ifeanyi Nwosu.jpg
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.
Jonathan Dayton
Jonathan Dayton.jpg
MS Biology

Jonathan is a master's student working with Dr. Stephen Piccolo. He is interested in studying applications of machine learning in biology and human disease. He grew up in Richmond, Utah, and did his bachelor's here at BYU in bioinformatics.
Josh Gilman
Josh Gilman.jpg
MS Biology

Josh is a master's student working with Dr. Richard Gill.
Josh Verde
Josh Verde.jpg
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.
Josue Gonzalez Murcia
Josue Gonzalez Murcia.jpg
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.
Justina "Tina" P. Tavana
Tina Tavana.jpg
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.
Kaitlyn Beard Golden
Kaitlyn Beard.jpg
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.
Kevin Lamb
Kevin Lamb.jpg
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.
Kristian Ciarah Cook
Ciarah Cook (1).jpg
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.
Na Yin
Na Yin.jpg
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.
Nathan St. Andre
Nathan St. Andre.jpg
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.
Rachel Keuler
Rachel Keuler_0.jpg
MS Biology

Rachel is a master's 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.
Robert Erickson
Robert Erickson.jpg
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
Scott George.png
<h5 class="cms-heading-h5">PhD Biology</h5><br>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&amp;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 n...
Tavailau Segi
Stau Segi_0.png
MS Biology

Tavailau Stau Segi is a master's 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!
Theresa Saunders
Theresa Saunders.jpg
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
Trevor Williams.jpg
<h5 class="cms-heading-h5">PhD Biology</h5><br>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 ...