Current Grad Students
Abigail is a doctoral student working with Dr. Byron Adams. Abigail received her bachelor’s degree from College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota, and her MS in plant pathology from University of Nebraska-Lincoln. At BYU, Abigail is studying nematode biodiversity in the Dry Valleys in Antarctica. She is interested in how nematodes have dispersed and are evolving in that unique environment. Outside of looking at tiny worms, Abigail enjoys hiking, running, and reading.
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Bailey is from Houston, Texas. Bailey is working with Dr. Blaine Griffen with a focus on marine science. She attended Eckerd College and graduated with a degree in biology and psychology with a minor in marine science. Bailey enjoys sailing and hiking or really anything outdoors!
MS Biological Science Education
Brandon is a Yakama Native American from Zillah, Washington, and is working with Dr. Liz Bailey. He graduated with a bachelor of science in biology with specialization in medical biology from Heritage University of Toppenish, Washington. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in biological science education. Brandon is interested in a qualitative interview study of Native Americans regarding their decision to go to college and their choice of major. When not studying, Brandon loves spending time with his wife and family. He enjoys participating in cultural dancing, drumming, and singing from his Native American heritage. His favorite hobby is making authentic eagle feathered traditional pow wow bustles.
Brianna is a doctoral student working with Dr. Perry Ridge. She grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada, and received an undergraduate degree in bioinformatics at BYU. Her current research involves developing algorithms for haplotype-based analyses and applying those algorithms to Alzheimer's disease. She enjoys learning, coding, and mentoring other students in the lab and as a teaching assistant for bioinformatics classes. Brianna enjoys spending time with her husband/family, being outside, baking (especially gourmet cheesecakes), and running.
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Clara is originally from Nova Scotia, Canada, and graduated from BYU with a bachelor's in biological sciences education. Following graduation, she completed a master’s in curriculum and instructional design at the University of Toledo. Clara taught 9th grade Science in Saratoga Springs. Here at BYU, she is a doctoral student working with Dr. Rebecca Sansom and looking into the development of collaboration of teaching practices among rural science teachers. When not studying, Clara enjoys spending time with her 2 kids, quilting, and baking.
Diego Ardon Betancourt
Diego is a doctoral student in Dr. Jerry Johnson's lab. Born and raised in Honduras, Central America, Diego did his undergraduate at UNAH and his master's degree at UNICACH in Mexico. Since his master's degree, Diego has been interested in studying the ichthyofauna of Central America and his home country in particular. Currently, his interests lie in studying diet composition and ecology in livebearing fishes in Costa Rica. When not studying, Diego's main hobbies are listening to music, doing fun activities with his wife (like bird-watching), watching movies, reading, and playing football (alright..."soccer").
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!
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.
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.
Judicaël Fomekong Lontchi
Judicaël is a PhD student working in Dr Seth Bybee’s lab. He is from the West Region of Cameroon, precisely from Mbouda. His research project here at BYU aims at developing a global phylogeny of Chlorocyphidae, a group of damselflies commonly known as jewels. Before coming to BYU, he went to the University of Yaoundé 1 (Yaoundé, Cameroon) where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in biology and his Master of Science in zoology. In his free time, he likes playing guitar, singing, and running.
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Justina "Tina" P. Tavana
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.
Kenneth Carroll is a doctoral student working with Dr. Byron Adams. He joined the Army serving as a medic and was honorably discharged. He then attempted to start a small business and worked on several natural gas pipelines digging holes. Finally, he decided to try college and fell in love with learning about the environment and how we need to preserve it for future generations. He completed his BS and MS degrees at Arizona State University, where he found organic pollutants and possible microplastics within Antarctic Soil. He is excited to further his research at Brigham Young University and identify how microplastics affect soil communities and biogeochemical processes within Antarctic soil. During his free time, you will find him outdoors, reading a book, or practicing yoga.
Laura was born in Orem, Utah, but grew up in Iowa City, Iowa. She received her BS in biodiversity and conservation from BYU. Now, as a MS student working in Dr. Blaine Griffen's lab, Laura studies the energetics of the invasive Asian shore crab. When crabs drop limbs to escape predators, they have the option to put energy into regenerating their lost limbs or other processes such as growth or reproduction. Laura’s work will determine the optimal energy allocation strategy a crab should employ following limb autotomy. She is broadly interested in marine bioenergetics, ecology, and evolution. Outside of work, Laura enjoys reading, writing novels, and playing the flute.
Laura is from Marietta, Georgi. She did her undergraduate degree at BYU and her master’s degree at Purdue University. He master’s thesis was on landscape ecology, specifically resistance modeling, of the spongy moth invasion across the Northeast United States.
M. Gabriela Jijon Nemalceff
Gabi is from Quito, Ecuador. She is a doctoral student working with Dr. Seth Bybee and Dr. Paul Frandsen. She received her bachelor of arts in environmental science and her master of science in biology from Clark University (Worcester, MA). Gabi’s research experience includes performing biomonitoring studies, stream habitat assessments, and morpho-taxonomic classification of aquatic macroinvertebrates. For her doctoral degree, Gabi is researching the evolution of silk production in Trichoptera. In her free time, she likes to cook and watch scary movies.
Madison is a master’s student working in Dr. Rachel Wood’s lab. She worked with Dr. Wood in the Environmental Analytical Lab during her undergraduate studies at BYU where she earned her bachelor’s in biology. After graduation, Madison spent a couple years working in forensic DNA laboratories before beginning her graduate degree. Madison's research examines the effects of invasive plant removal on microbial gene expression and nitrogen cycling in Utah’s wetlands. Outside of school, she likes spending time with her toddler, rockhounding, and finding new things to do on a graduate student’s budget.
Matthew is a doctoral student working in Dr. Perry Ridge’s lab. He graduated from BYU with a degree in bioinformatics and a minor in computer science. He is studying genomic variation that affects mRNA translation speed, with the goal to improve our understanding of why genetic disease occurs. When not doing research, he enjoys going on adventures with his wife, singing in the BYU Men’s Chorus, coding for the BYU Minecraft club, and bird watching. email@example.com | LinkedIn | Google Scholar
Pungki is a doctoral student from Indonesia working in Dr. Seth Bybee’s lab. She completed her SSi (bachelor of science) degree in biology at Padjadjaran University, Indonesia, and her master of science degree in biology (track: biodiversity in time and space) at Leiden University, The Netherlands. During her MSc, she worked on the comparison of nymphs and adults of dragonflies collected from Vietnam using DNA sequences as her major thesis and studied paleobotany from Cereste, France, using Naturalis Museum specimens as her minor thesis. Pungki’s main interests are in Odonata systematics with a focus on the family of Euphaeidae (Gossamerwings damselflies). Her doctoral research will utilize observations of the habitat in the field, morphological characters, dispersal and biogeography, and large molecular datasets. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, spending time in nature, swimming, watching movies/series, reading mystery novels, and corresponding with family and friends back home.
Robert is from Orem, Utah. He majored in biochemistry and biology here at BYU in 2021, and spent the past year researching the distribution and evolution of Hawaiian damselflies in Seth Bybee's lab as a post-baccalaureate research assistant.
MS Biological Science Education
Sierra is a master's student from Midway, Utah, working in Dr. Liz Bailey's lab. As an undergraduate at BYU, she assisted in research on plant regeneration in post-fire environments, harmful algal blooms, and gender equity in STEM. Sierra is interested in improving water cycle education to promote better water literacy. When she's not on campus studying or conducting research, she's playing outside with her son, searching Pinterest for the next great recipe she might make, or gaming with her husband.
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Tanner Aiono is a doctoral student from San Diego, CA, working with Dr. Richard Gill. His area of study is focused on the interactions of land management and climate change effects on dryland ecosystems function along the Colorado Plateau. He received a bachelor's degree in biology from Dartmouth College where he also played football. When he’s not working on research, he enjoys playing sports, going to the beach, cooking/baking, and spending time with friends and family.
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!
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.
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