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People

The people who currently make up the lab.

Scott Steppan

Scott Steppan

Principal Investigator

My fundamental goal is to understand the evolutionary processes that promote biological diversity. My research attempts to bridge the micro- and macroevolutionary scales and apply process based models to understand and explain large-scale patterns. To address this long term goal, my research program involves studying highly diversified groups of mammals at a range of hierarchical levels. Currently, my focus is on molecular phylogenetics and quantitative genetics. The techniques include phylogenetic analyses of morphological and DNA sequence data, comparative analyses of multivariate patterns of covariation, developing the comparative tools to test these multivariate patterns, analysis of geographic variation, and alpha level systematics of living and fossil material.

My fundamental goal is to understand the evolutionary processes that promote biological diversity. My research attempts to bridge the micro- and macroevolutionary scales and apply process based models to understand and explain large-scale patterns. To address this long term goal, my research program involves studying highly diversified groups of mammals at a range of hierarchical levels. Currently, my focus is on molecular phylogenetics and quantitative genetics. The techniques include phylogenetic analyses of morphological and DNA sequence data, comparative analyses of multivariate patterns of covariation, developing the comparative tools to test these multivariate patterns, analysis of geographic variation, and alpha level systematics of living and fossil material.

Max Bangs

Max Bangs

Postdoctoral Researcher

I am interested in understanding the patterns that shape biodiversity, especially in the regards of phylogenetics, species delineation, and hybridization. My current research will use next generation sequencing to resolve the phylogeny of Sigmodontinae, a diverse group of muroid rodents. The focus of this work will be on Oryzomyalia, a group of South American Sigmodontine rodents that represent one of the most recent adaptive radiations in mammals. Adaptive radiations represent a rapid increase in species diversity driven by divergent natural selection and is often considered being a major driver of biodiversity. The results of my postdoc research will provide a basis for studying trait evolution during adaptive radiations in muroid rodents.

I am interested in understanding the patterns that shape biodiversity, especially in the regards of phylogenetics, species delineation, and hybridization. My current research will use next generation sequencing to resolve the phylogeny of Sigmodontinae, a diverse group of muroid rodents. The focus of this work will be on Oryzomyalia, a group of South American Sigmodontine rodents that represent one of the most recent adaptive radiations in mammals. Adaptive radiations represent a rapid increase in species diversity driven by divergent natural selection and is often considered being a major driver of biodiversity. The results of my postdoc research will provide a basis for studying trait evolution during adaptive radiations in muroid rodents.

Bárbara Costa

Bárbara Costa

Postdoctoral Researcher

I am an evolutionary biologist interested in how traits covariation interacts with evolutionary process over time and influence the phenotypic evolution. Particularly, my research model group is one of the most impressive rodent radiations from Neotropical world: the subfamily Sigmodotinae.

I am an evolutionary biologist interested in how traits covariation interacts with evolutionary process over time and influence the phenotypic evolution. Particularly, my research model group is one of the most impressive rodent radiations from Neotropical world: the subfamily Sigmodotinae.

Carl Saltzberg

Carl Saltzberg

Graduate - PhD Candidate

I am fascinated by the evolutionary processes that have acted to influence disparity (phenotypic variation across species). I am interested in how the patterns of integration and modularity, which are the observable correlations among phenotypic traits within species, have acted to bias evolutionary change. I explore this question using rodents, specifically studying how the morphological shape of the skeletal elements have evolved inresponce to changes in integration or modularity, as well as locomotion, or ecology. In my work I frequently utilize natural history collections, geometric morphometrics, phylogenetics, and quantitative genetics.

I am fascinated by the evolutionary processes that have acted to influence disparity (phenotypic variation across species). I am interested in how the patterns of integration and modularity, which are the observable correlations among phenotypic traits within species, have acted to bias evolutionary change. I explore this question using rodents, specifically studying how the morphological shape of the skeletal elements have evolved inresponce to changes in integration or modularity, as well as locomotion, or ecology. In my work I frequently utilize natural history collections, geometric morphometrics, phylogenetics, and quantitative genetics.

Kathleen Torrence

Kathleen Torrence

Graduate - PhD Candidate

My research includes studying speciation and the evolution of species with cryptic morphologies. Specifically, I use genetic data to answer questions about genetic diversity, population structures, gene flow patterns, and the derivation of traits associated with reproduction within various echinoderms. Much of the world’s undiscovered species richness will be found in marine environments, where studying in situ behavior is very difficult. Overall, I consider myself a conservation geneticist, utilizing genetic information to gain a greater understanding of taxonomic groups that are problematic to study.

My research includes studying speciation and the evolution of species with cryptic morphologies. Specifically, I use genetic data to answer questions about genetic diversity, population structures, gene flow patterns, and the derivation of traits associated with reproduction within various echinoderms. Much of the world’s undiscovered species richness will be found in marine environments, where studying in situ behavior is very difficult. Overall, I consider myself a conservation geneticist, utilizing genetic information to gain a greater understanding of taxonomic groups that are problematic to study.

Scott Steppan

Jared Osland

Graduate - PhD Student

My research interests are in the underlying genetics of regulatory control and development, and how these relate to evolution and population dynamics. I hope to study the levels of genetic diversity within and between closely related species, and how these can be mapped to morphological differences. I am also interested in modern sequencing techniques, and the broad range of applications they have to all aspects of biological research.

My research interests are in the underlying genetics of regulatory control and development, and how these relate to evolution and population dynamics. I hope to study the levels of genetic diversity within and between closely related species, and how these can be mapped to morphological differences. I am also interested in modern sequencing techniques, and the broad range of applications they have to all aspects of biological research.

Joseph Horacek

Joseph Horacek

Graduate - PhD Student

I am primarily interested in the ecology and evolution of marine meiofauna (particularly metazoan meiofauna) and marine meiofaunal nematodes. My research involves genetic connectivity between populations of marine meiofaunal nematodes and identifying cryptic species of these nematodes. I study both deep-sea and coastal meiofauna. My research also focuses on community composition of meiofaunal communities in the deep sea and also species diversity for deep sea free-living nematodes. Meiofauna are an important yet often under-studied component of the benthic environment. I hope my research will help elucidate the role of meiofauna in marine ecosystems and also how meiofaunal nematodes have evolved to become as ubiquitous as they are in marine ecosystems all over the planet.

I am primarily interested in the ecology and evolution of marine meiofauna (particularly metazoan meiofauna) and marine meiofaunal nematodes. My research involves genetic connectivity between populations of marine meiofaunal nematodes and identifying cryptic species of these nematodes. I study both deep-sea and coastal meiofauna. My research also focuses on community composition of meiofaunal communities in the deep sea and also species diversity for deep sea free-living nematodes. Meiofauna are an important yet often under-studied component of the benthic environment. I hope my research will help elucidate the role of meiofauna in marine ecosystems and also how meiofaunal nematodes have evolved to become as ubiquitous as they are in marine ecosystems all over the planet.

Nicholas Johnson

Nick Johnson

Lab Technician

My interests pertain to morphological variation influenced by ecological variables on the evolution of Sigmodontine rodents. My previous research was focused on comparative skeletal morphology of the pelvis and femur across the order Rodentia for an independent honors thesis project. In that study, I analyzed morphological changes in these hindlimb elements that were indicative of swimming, gliding, and quadrupedal terrestrial rodents. Currently, my main role is to photograph elements of the appendicular skeleton being the scapula, humerus, ulna, metacarpals, phalanges 1 and 3 and their hindlimb equivalents. Most of this collection work comes from traveling to natural history museums to utilize their collection of rodent skeletal material. I then obtain linear descriptive measurements by digitizing the photographs of the appendicular skeleton that are then used for comparative quantitative genetic research.

My interests pertain to morphological variation influenced by ecological variables on the evolution of Sigmodontine rodents. My previous research was focused on comparative skeletal morphology of the pelvis and femur across the order Rodentia for an independent honors thesis project. In that study, I analyzed morphological changes in these hindlimb elements that were indicative of swimming, gliding, and quadrupedal terrestrial rodents. Currently, my main role is to photograph elements of the appendicular skeleton being the scapula, humerus, ulna, metacarpals, phalanges 1 and 3 and their hindlimb equivalents. Most of this collection work comes from traveling to natural history museums to utilize their collection of rodent skeletal material. I then obtain linear descriptive measurements by digitizing the photographs of the appendicular skeleton that are then used for comparative quantitative genetic research.

Anna Grulich

Anna Grulich

Undergraduate - DIS Student

I am an undergraduate majoring in Biological Science. My current research is on the diversification of the smaller bodied Apomys which is a subgenera of worm eating mice from the Philippines. I am gathering molecular data for mitochondrial and nuclear genes which I am using to construct phylogenies. I am also working to fill in some gaps for the database of genetic information on Apomys.

I am an undergraduate majoring in Biological Science. My current research is on the diversification of the smaller bodied Apomys which is a subgenera of worm eating mice from the Philippines. I am gathering molecular data for mitochondrial and nuclear genes which I am using to construct phylogenies. I am also working to fill in some gaps for the database of genetic information on Apomys.

Ashley Ehlers

Ashley Ehlers

Undergraduate - DIS Student

I am an undergraduate on the pre-med track majoring in Biological Science with minors in Biomedical Physics and Chemistry. I will be working on the molecular side of the Steppan Lab, collecting molecular data on the Genus, Phyllotis, and analyzing their phylogeny, to better understand phylogenetic relationships.

I am an undergraduate on the pre-med track majoring in Biological Science with minors in Biomedical Physics and Chemistry. I will be working on the molecular side of the Steppan Lab, collecting molecular data on the Genus, Phyllotis, and analyzing their phylogeny, to better understand phylogenetic relationships.

Scott Steppan

Kait-lynn Tombling

Undergraduate - DIS Student

I am a senior undergraduate student majoring in Biological Science. After graduation I plan to continue my education by attending medical school. Currently, I am completing a directed individual study in the Steppan Lab, comparing the appendicular skeletal morphology among several species of rodents, differing in their locomotory mode.

I am a senior undergraduate student majoring in Biological Science. After graduation I plan to continue my education by attending medical school. Currently, I am completing a directed individual study in the Steppan Lab, comparing the appendicular skeletal morphology among several species of rodents, differing in their locomotory mode.

Haley Miller

Haley Miller

Undergraduate - DIS Student

I am an undergraduate on the pre-veterinary track, majoring in biological sciences. I am creating and analyzing the phylogeny of Phyllotis, a genus of South American mice by gathering molecular data for the RAG1 and Cytb genes. I will be sequencing samples from 300 individuals belonging to 8 species, mostly of P. xanthopygus, to reconstruct their evolutionary history in a geographic context throughout the Andes.

I am an undergraduate on the pre-veterinary track, majoring in biological sciences. I am creating and analyzing the phylogeny of Phyllotis, a genus of South American mice by gathering molecular data for the RAG1 and Cytb genes. I will be sequencing samples from 300 individuals belonging to 8 species, mostly of P. xanthopygus, to reconstruct their evolutionary history in a geographic context throughout the Andes.

Address

Florida State University
Department of Biological Science
King Life Science, Room 4066
Tallahassee, FL 32306-4295

Contact

Office: (850) 644-6536
Lab: (850) 644-6045
Fax: (850) 645-8447
Email: steppan @ bio.fsu.edu