The Houligans

David Houle

As you know, he does research. He enjoys living in Tallahassee, where you can get out of town quickly, and still find lots of good natural habitiat. His mental escapes from all this include gardening, board games, birding and bicycling. Want to know why I left the University of Toronto? Click here.

Luke Jones

Luke received a B.S. in Biological Science from Florida State University in 2011. His love of flies lured him back to Florida State in 2015 as a Ph.D. student. His interests continue to narrow, centering on questions of how development and evolution interact to create phenotypes, parallel evolution at the genetic level, and the predicability of genetic change. He is also passionate about honing his statistical and programming knowledge to better analyze data. In his free time he enjoys going out to eat, taking pictures, and just relaxing.

  • Post-doctoral Researcher

Jacqueline Sztepanacz

Jacqueline completed her PhD in 2016 at the University of Queensland in Australia, where she studied the evolution in the Australian fruit fly Drosophila serrata. As a post-doc in the Houle lab she is now studying pleiotropy, the phenomenon where individual mutations have effects on more than one trait. Despite the importance of pleiotropy in evolution, we have a pretty poor empirical understanding of it. Her current work is mostly focused on developing statistical approaches to estimate patterns of pleiotropic effects using data from genome wide association studies. She is also interested in how genetic covariances between males and females might constrain evolution in general and the evolution of sexual dimorphism. You can check out her publications here: here.

Ryan Fortune

Ryan Fortune is a FSU graduate who is currently taking a hiatus from further schooling to obtain valuable research experience in the Houle lab. Ryan is interested in genetics and evolutionary biology and plans to pursue his passion in graduate school. Outside of work, Ryan often experiences profound epiphanies aboout politics, culture, and life that he thinks are worth sharing. They are not. Ryan keeps himself busy with multiplayer first-person video games. His favorite quote is "I'm vegan." Ryan is also the self-professed fastest imager in the lab.

Suhavi Kaur

Suhavi is a recent Florida State graduate who has been working in the Houle lab since Fall 2016 after leaving her last job in the DuVal lab. She is interested in microbiolgy and immunlogy and hopes to one day pursue this passion as a medical laboratory scientist. The thing that motivates her to do her best is when her parents utter the phrase "log kya kahenge." This phrase is responsible for making her the fastest imager in the lab. While at FSU, Suhavi enjoyed making a difference in her community as the president of FSU's Red Cross club. She continues to volunteer with the Red Cross after graduation. Suhavi enjoys telling people how much work she has coming up, visiting museums, scuba diving, and going on nature walks-granted they are five minutes long and there aren't any mosquitos.

Fun fact: Suhavi learned HTML and CSS just to edit this page!

Michael Fears

Michael was born in St. Petersburgh, Florida. He lived in St. Pete and Tampa until he moved to Tallahassee for college (and to become the King in the North). Michael recently graduated from FSU with a major in Criminology. At FSU, he was focused on both criminology and science courses. He enjoyed being able to help incoming college students while working as a receptionist in the campus residence halls for four years. He also worked for a year as a lab technician for entry-level biology lab classes. He now works as a lab assistant (and fastest imager) in Dr. Houle's genetics lab, and he appreciates how much he gets to learn in this role. Michael is also the Vice President of the public benefit prganization Splash Pals at FSU, and he enjoys every weekend at the pool participating in the swim sessions.

Undergraduate Assistants

Cassidy Robinson

Cassidy Robinson is a Biology major and currently is in her senior year at Florida State. She hopes to one day attend dental school and fulfull her lifetime dream of becoming a dentist. Aside from academics, she enjoys her time with familyand friends and taking trips to Disney World. Cassidy currently holds the record for being the shortest lab member at a whopping 4 feet and 11 inches and has a special place in her heart for the DGRP stock.

Kevin Doheny

Kevin Doheny is widely regarded as the most quiet and introspective undergraduate member of the Houle lab. He feels that these quiet passions will carry over and manifest in to long term success, catapulting him to previously thought impossible for a bio-boy. Kevin is not a vegan but likes to make fun of them and ask them what they would be willing to eat. When not working with flies and holding the title of "fastest imager," he likes to lift heavy weights and has even squatted 405 lbs! Kevin likes the Houle lab a lot better than his old gig at Home Depot and enjoys having deep theoretical conversations with Ryan on topics ranging from from human evolution to jellyfish eating debates. Kevin hopes to one day get his PhD in some form of biology that is tbd.

Bobby Baizack

Bobby is a third year, premed student studying Biological Science here at Florida State University. His passion for biology and a peaked interest in genetics brought him to Dr. Houle's lab. Even though Bobby has only recently joined the lab recently, he has quickly found his way to the top and has the fastest fly imaging times here. He also likes to volunteer at the hospital as a transport. When he is not busy volunteering or taking care of his precious flies, Bobby is most likely valeting someone's car at the Edison or studying on the third floor cubicle at Strozier.

Connor Murray

Connor is a sophomore with a premed track, he was recently hired after volunteering in the lab for some time during the previous semester. Connor is currently interested in understanding sexually linked genes and epigenetics in D. melanogaster. He has learned most of the jobs in the lab and finds the work enjoyable. In his free time, Connor enjoys historical readings and watching science fiction movies. Throughout his time in the lab he has learned what research is comprised of and he hopes to master all there is to offer in the Houle lab. So far, he's mastered becoming the fastest imager in the lab.

Michael Vazquez

Michael is a recent addition to the Houle lab. He is a pre-med student excited to use this lab experience to expand his knowledge can then be used in the ever developing field of personalized medicine. He is happy to finally put his hobby of taking thousands of pictures of fruit flies to good use.

Jade Chery

Jade Chery is currently a Junior at FSU and a recent addition to the Houle Lab. Jade hopes to find her main passion within the vast field of genetics, focusing on epigenetics. While still learning the ropes and gaining vast knowledge of D. melanogaster, Jade likes to indulge in harmless roasting and teasing. Her main wapon of choice is scrunching up her face and sucking her teeth. While everyone else fights to the death to become "the fastest imager in the lab," Jade focuses on sitting back and enjoying the show.

Maximilian Fisher

Maximilian is a sophomore Athletic Training major on the path to become a physical therapist. In his free time, Max loves going to the gym, watching movies, and spending time with his family and friends. He is interested in studying Drosophila to better understand the genetic triggers which induce novel phenotypic expression at various stages of their life cycle.

Past Houligans

Taylor Tischhauser

Taylor Tischhauser is a senior at FSU completing a Bachelor's of Music degree and minors in Chemistry and Biology. She began her research involvement through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity program and continues work in the research community by serving as a UROP leader, and Undergraduate Research Ambassador, and continuing work in the Houle Lab. She is also part of Sigma Alpha Iota and serves on the executive board for the FSU Red Cross. Outside of the lab, she enjoys painting and playing music.

Caitlin Marquis

Caitlin is a FSU graduate who obtained a degree in Biological Science while working in the Houle lab. She hopes to enter medical school in the future. Prior to Caitlin's involvement with the Houle lab, she pursued a research project that investigated social roles in the Windover population- a group of people indigenous to Central Florida. Caitlin then joined the Houle lab in August 2016 as a laboratory assistant. Caitlin's long-term career goals involve integrating research with medical practice and education. Caitlin enjoys learning about personalized medicine that targets individual-specific causes to certain illnesses or deficits. She hoped to one day run a teaching individual-specific causes to certain illnesses or deficits. She hopes to one day run a teaching institution that focuses on this style of health care.

Jason Cassara

During his time in the Houle lab, Jason was interested in the evolution of allometry, as well as the relationships among allometries at different scales (ontogenetic, static, and evolutionary). He worked with both holometabolous (Drosophila melanogaster) and hemimetabolous insects, in particular the leaf-footed bugs (Heteroptera coreidae), and is interested in the use of geometric morphometrics as one of a suite of tools for analyzing size/shape relationships. At the time, he was a relative newcomer to evolutionary biology, his background is in geology (B.S. – Univ. of Maryland; M.S. – Univ.of Iowa), particularly stable isotope geochemistry, taphonomy, paleobiology and paleoecology. He began working in the Houle lab as a lab tech, with the personal goal of gaining additional experience with morphometrics and in learning more about genetics and microevolution. To his surprise, he enjoyed working with living organisms so much that he decided to remain in the lab as a PhD student. Jason has since developed a deep and abiding love of insects and entomology. As a geologist/paleontologist, he has had the opportunity to do fieldwork in such beautiful places as Ireland, South Africa, and the American West (South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Montana). A native of Long Island, NY, he considers Baltimore, MD to be his adopted hometown. Jason enjoys coffee, writing and recording music, and playing an obscure sport called Hooverball.

David Aponte

David Aponte is about to complete his Master's degree in Fall 2014, and starts graduate school at the University of Calgary in January 2015.  He has learned just about everything we do, and his thesis includes a selection experiment, mark-release-recapture data on his selected flies, manipulations of gene expression and morphometrics on the pattern of gene expression in the developing wing disc.  David started as an undergraduate in the lab in 2008.

Brad Steiner

Bradley is a 2014 alumni of Florida State University and worked in the Houle lab for two years before leaving to attend graduate school at Vanderbilt University. Bradley anticipates finishing his MS in 2018 and intends to pursue medical school afterwards; hoping to enjoy a career that fuses his dual interests in research and medicine. In his free time Bradley enjoys hiking (of which Tennessee was predictably great for), music (particularly metal, which Tennessee was surprisingly good for), and playing games like Magic: The Gathering with his friends.

Victoria Smethurst

Victoria graduated from FSU in 2015 with a degree in Biology. Currently, she is a graduate student studying transcriptional regulation of tooth mineralization at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine in the lab of Dr. Dobrawa Napierala.

Alex Jasman

I am a Florida State Seminole since 2012, currently working towards my undergraduate biology degree. I am fascinated by how many species there are all acting like "programs" coded to continue their way of life fitting into every environmental niche available. As a Seminole I enjoy attending our football games and hanging out at the Rez.

Joanne Salina

Joanne recently graduated from FSU. With no immediate graduate school plans, she is currently seeking a career that fulfills her passion for biology. Her favorite Serbian proverb is: "Be humble, for you are made of earth. Be noble, for you are made of stars."

Alexis Matamoro Vidal

My career goal is to understand why Raymond Poulidor never won the 'Tour de France' (he finished second three times and third five times). However, since no funding agency wanted to award this project, I turned towards evolutionary morphology. I investigate evolutionary forces responsible for patterns of morphological diversity. For this, I combine (1) phylogenetics, to describe evolutionary patterns; (2) developmental biology, to understand how morphological variation is generated; and (3) functional approaches, to test for the role of natural selection in shaping patterns of morphological variation. I have used this integrated approach to study evolution of pollen morphology and I am currently investigating developmental origins of morphological variation in the shape of the Drosophila wing. Alexis is currently working on the wing model in the lab of Barry Thompson in London. He will join the research group of Virginie Orgogozo in 2015.

Post-doctoral Researcher

Eladio Marquez

Eladio's research encompasses a variety of questions concerning the developmental and evolutionary mechanisms behind patterns of phenotypic variation. He is particularly interested in the development of novel approaches for the visualization and modeling of multidimensional variation, the broad aim being the formulation of testable hypotheses linking specific genetic and developmental mechanisms to their partial contributions to overall phenotypic variation, which is initially modeled as the cumulative aggregate of all such contributions. Thus, in a way, his research seeks to understand variation by taking a reductionistic, model- or experimentally driven approach, to ultimately use these cause-effects threads as a link between gene expression-level processes and directions of phenotypic evolutionary divergence. In addition to being author of the programs CPR and Lory found on this web site, he is also author of a large number of software packages for analyses of shape data available at Eladio Marquez’ personal website. Eladio is now a researcher at The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine.
Post-doctoral Researcher

Rosa Moscarella

Rosa received her PhD in 2011 from Michigan State University. During her Doctoral studies, she became very interested in STEM Education Research while pursuing a Teaching Certification in College Science. After her postdoc at the Houle Lab, she moved back to Michigan to join the Automated Analysis of Constructed Responses (AACR) research group, which investigates computerized analysis of students' writing. She's now combining her broad experience in Biology and her interest in Science Education to investigate learning difficulties students have understanding Genetics.
Ph.D. Graduate

Brian Hollis

Brian received his Ph.D. in 2011.  He is interested in sexual selection. In particular, why do males of so many species show such extravagance despite the clear nonsexual cost? He is using experimental evolution with Drosophila melanogaster to test predictions of theory, including whether or not there is any adaptive value to sexual selection. He is also interested in biological conflict generally, at all levels of organization. He is currently a post-doctoral researcher in the lab of Tad Kawecki in Lausanne, Switzerland. 
Ph.D. Graduate

Janna Fierst

Janna received her Ph.D. in 2010.  Janna is broadly interested in evolutionary genetics, and particularly the evolution of the genetic system and the map from genotype to phenotype. Her current research uses a combination of bioinformatic, mathematical and computational models to explore these phenomena, particularly patterns of genetic interactions. Janna is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama, and the proud mother of Josephine. 

M.S. Graduate

Jessica Nye

Jessica received her M.S. in 2012.  She worked on a quantitative trait locus mapping experiment that compares wing morphology to the entire genome sequence and expression profile of Drosophila Genome Reference Panel lines. She is curently living in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, and is looking to get back to biomedial research. 

Graduate Student

Don Griffin

Don is a student of evolutionary theory in general. In particular, he is interested in the construction of Genotype-to-Phenotype (G-P) maps through evolutionary processes, and the mathematical properties of G-P maps that shape evolutionary possibilities. He is also the best Agricola and Puerto Rico player in the lab, but since he does not wish to seem immodest, he lets others win sometimes.

  • Maurizio Tomaiuolo is a mathematical modeler who received his Ph.D. with myself and Thomas Hansen. He now works at the Biotechnology High-Performance Computing Software Applications Institute in Maryland. E-mail: mauriziotml at

  • Kim van der Linde worked on fly wings and a phylogeny of the Drosophilidae in the lab.  She now works in the Floirda Department of Health as an epidemiologist. E-mail:

  • Chad Evers is ex-lab manager, who worked his way up from boyfriend. He departed to get his Master's degree at UCSF, and is now monitoring aquaculture in south Florida for the DEP.  

  • Ashley Carter was a post-doctoral researcher in the lab. He selected on wing shape in flies. He is now an assistant professor at Cal State Long Beach.

  • Fiona Hollis successfully moved through all the undergrad roles in the lab, got her Ph.D. with Mahmmad Kabbaj in the College of Medicine, and is now a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Lausanne.  She and Brian Hollis met over flies and are now the proud parents of Samantha and Aaron.  

  • Becky Fuller received her Ph.D. at FSU with Joe Travis Her major work is on the coevolution of the sensory system and mating display in fish. She is now a professor at the University of Illinois.

  • Jeff Birdsley worked as a technician in the lab, and was responsible for keeping fly bodies and souls together. Jeff is really an avian phylogenetic systematist, but made himself into a Dipterist.

  • Jason Mezey  was a post-doc in the lab, immersed in multidimensional geometry, and is now a professor at Cornell . E-mail: Website:

  • Paul Galpern   received his Master's degree in the lab at Toronto.  He was briefly seduced by the beauty of the fly wing - its  appearance enhanced by colored lines, its voluptuous shape, its principal warps. Paul is now a professor of landscape genetics at the University of Calgary 

  • Becca Hale was our R programmer for a while.   She is now an assistant professor at UNC Asheville.

  • Art Poon is our artist (Art's art ), and worked in the lab as an undergraduate. He got a Master's degree in population genetics with Sally Otto, and a Ph.D. with Lin Chao on beneficial mutation rate. 

  • Bob Morikawa has retired from the lab after round III with the flies. He remains undefeated. Bob has an M.S. in forestry from Michigan State, and, between rounds, is putting this expertise to excellent use in Tanzania, rural Haiti, and with Toronto parks. Bob enjoys planting trees, hackey sack, and counting sternopleural bristles.

  • Stephanie Weinstein has seen fruit flies on four continents. She was the delicate hand behind the evolution in a bottle experiments and got a Master's degree in conservation biology at the University of Florida.