Student Research Assistant
I’m currently a senior undergraduate student and research assistant in the Kawahara lab at UF. My main duties lie in the molecular lab, where I perform DNA extractions, PCR, DNA quantification & qualification, etc. for moth and butterfly phylogenetic projects. In addition to these projects, I am completing an NSF REU project on conservation of silk genes within Lepidoptera. Although molecular biology is my main love in the lab, I enjoy helping out with the lab’s wing voucher volunteers and engaging in outreach projects such as those with the Thompson Earth Systems Institute when opportunities arise.
Erin Jane Lapasaran
Digitization Project Assistant & Volunteer Coordinator
I am a senior undergraduate student pursuing a B.A. in Anthropology. After graduation, I hope to continue my work in natural history collections and their research applications. I currently work in digitizing pinned collections and recruiting/training volunteers for our department. I am also designing a new workflow to digitize fluid-based larval collections.
Chris A. Hamilton
Muhammad Z. Ahmed
I am interested in how species are interacting and how interactions influence the biology, ecology and genomes of interacting species with main focus on Endosymbiosis.
2009-2012: PhD Genetics (University of Pretoria, South Africa)
Advisor: Professor Jaco M Greeff
2006-2008: Msc Entomology (South China Agriculture University, China)
Advisor: Professor Qiu Bao-Li
2001-2005: Bsc (Hons) Entomology (Bahauddin Zakariya University, Pakistan)
2014- : Postdoctoral Associate (University of Florida, USA)
2013-2014: Postdoctoral Associate (South China Agricultural University, China)
2012-2013: Postdoctoral Associate, (University of Pretoria, South Africa)
2011-2012: Mentor (Department of Genetics, University of Pretoria, South Africa)
2009-2010: Co-supervisor (Department of Genetics, University of Pretoria, South Africa)
2010-2011: Technical Assistant(Department of Genetics, University of Pretoria, South Africa)
2005-2006: Research Fellow (Department of Entomology, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Pakistan)
2001-2004: Senior Tutor (Unique Academy of Science and Technology, Pakistan)
Publications (Peer reviewed journals)
Ahmed MZ, Naveed, Noor ul Ane M, Ren SX, Barro PD, Qiu BL (2014) Host suitability comparison between the MEAM1 and AsiaII 1 cryptic species of Bemisia tabaci in cotton growing zones of Pakistan. Pest Management ScienceDOI: 10.1002/ps.3716.
Ahmed MZ, Greyvenstein, Erasmus C, Welch JJ Greeff JM (2013)Consistently high incidence of Wolbachia in global fig wasp communities.Ecological Entomology 38(2)147–154.
Ahmed MZ, De Barro PJ, Ren SX, Greeff JM, Qiu BL (2013) Evidence for horizontal transmission of secondary endosymbionts in the Bemisia tabaci cryptic species complex. PLoS ONE 8(1): e53084.
Xue X, Li S-J, Ahmed MZ, De Barro PJ, Ren SX, Qiu BL(2012) Inactivation of Wolbachia Reveals Its Biological Roles in Whitefly Host. PLoS ONE7(10): e48148.
Xia Xue, Peng WL, Ahmed MZ, Mandour NS, Ren SX, Cuthbertson AGS, Qiu BL (2012) Phylogenetic analysis of three species of Encarsia (Hymenoptera: Aphelinidae)parasitizing Bemisia tabaci (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) in China based on their 28S rRNA gene. Acta Entomologica Sinica 55(2) 189–198.
Li XX, Li SJ, Xue X, Ahmed MZ, Ren SX, Cuthbertson AGS, Qiu BL (2012) The Effects of Space Dimension and Temperature on the Cross Mating of Three Cryptic Species of the Bemisia tabaci Complex in China. Journal of Integrative Agriculture 11(2) 197–205.
De Barro PJ, Ahmed MZ (2011) Genetic Networking of the Bemisia tabaci cryptic species complex reveals patterns of biological invasions. PLoS ONE6(10): e25579. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0025579
Ahmed MZ, De Barro PJ, Olleka A, Ren SX, Mandour NS, Greeff JM, Qiu BL (2011) Use of consensus sequences to identify members of the Bemisia tabaci (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) cryptic species complex in Egypt and Syria. Journal of Applied Entomology 136 (7) 510–519.
Qiu BL, Dang F, Li SJ, Ahmed MZ, Jin FL, Ren SX, Cuthberston AGS (2011) Comparison of biological parameters between the invasive B biotype and a new defined Cv biotype of Bemisia tabaci (Hemiptera: Aleyradidae) in China. Journal of Pest Science84(4) 419–427.
Li SJ, Xue X, Ahmed MZ, Ren SX, Du Y, Wu JH, Cuthbertson AGS, Qiu BL (2011) Host plants and natural enemies of Bemisia tabaci (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) in China. Insect Science 18(1)101-120.
Ahmed MZ, De Barro PJ, Greeff JM, Ren SX, Qiu BL (2010) Genetic identity of the Bemisia tabaci species complex and association with high cotton leaf curl disease (CLCuD) incidence in Pakistan. Pest Management Science 67(3)307-317.
Ahmed MZ, Ren SX, Mandour NS, Greeff JM, Qiu BL (2010) Prevalence of Wolbachia supergroups A and B in the sweetpotato whitefly Bemisia tabaci and its natural enemies. Journal of Economic Entomology 103(5)1848–59.
Ahmed MZ, Ren SX, Peng W, Li XX, Jin GH, Qiu BL (2010) Prevalence of Endosymbionts in Bemisia tabaci populations and Their in Vivo sensitivity to Antibiotics. Current Microbiology 61(4)322–328.
Ahmed MZ, Maruthi, MN, Ren SX, Mandour NS, Naveed M, Qiu BL (2010) Phylogenetic analysis of Bemisia tabaci (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) populations from cotton plants in Pakistan, China, and Egypt. Journal of Pest Science 83(2)135–141.
Qiu BL, Chen Y, Liu L, Peng W, Ahmed MZ, Du Y, Ren SX (2009) The identification of three Bemisia tabaci biotypes in China based on their morphological and DNA polymorphism. Progress in Natural Science 19(6)713–718.
Ahmed MZ, Jin GH, Yuan S, Ren SX, Du Y, Qiu BL (2009) Population and host plant differentiation of the sweetpotato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae), in East, South and Southwest China. Acta Entomologica Sinica 52(10)1132 –1138.
Ahmed MZ, Shatters RG, Ren SX, Jin GH, Mandour NS, Qiu BL (2009) Genetic distinctions among the Mediterranean and Chinese populations of Bemisia tabaci Q biotype and their Wolbachia infection. Journal of Applied Entomology 133(9-10)733–741.
Publications (Academic Dissertations)
The causes and consequences of horizontal transmission; a case study on Wolbachia. Department of Genetics, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Molecular identification and phylogeny of Bemisia tabaci and its Wolbachia. Department of Entomology, South China Agricultural University, China
Oral and 11 Poster presentations (2009-2014) in international conferences/academics meetings
Post Doctoral Associate
The core of my research interests is based in phylogenetics and population genetics. Through the use of phylogenetics and population genetics I address my interests in evolution, conservation biology, and taxonomy. I specialize in working with crustaceans specifically fresh water crayfish. My work in the Kawahara lab will focus on Lepidoptera evolution. My main focus in the Kawahara lab is developing bioinformatic scripts for Lepidoptera Phylotranscriptomic anaylysis. Below Is a link to tip and scripts I have been developing for use on the UF High performance computing cluster.
Ph.D. Brigham Young University June 2012
Ph.D. dissertation focused on freshwater crayfish evolution in the Crandall Lab.
Kawahara, A.Y., J.W. Breinholt, F. Ponce, J. Haxaire, L. Xiao, G.P.A Lamarre, D. Rubinoff, and I. J. Kitching (Accepted). Phylogeny and evolution of Manduca sexta and relatives: Ancestral biogeographical Analysis reveals a Central American origin for the genus. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. (Accepted).
Bracken-Grissom, H.D., S. Ahyong, J.W. Breinholt, R. Wilkinson, Z. Yang, R. Feldmann, C. Schweitzer, F. Palero, T-Y. Chan, K.H. Chu, D.L. Felder, R. Robles, D. Kim, M. Tsang, J. Martin, and K.A Crandall. The Emergence of the Lobsters: Phylogenetic Relationships, Morphological Evolution and Divergence Time Comparisons of a Fossil Rich Group (Achelata, Astacidea, Glypheidea, Polychelida). Systematic Biology (Submitted)
Robison, H.W., C.T. McAllister, J.W. Breinholt, and K.A. Crandall. (Accepted). Status and distribution of Blair’s Fencing Crayfish, Faxonella blairi (Decapoda:Cambaridae). Southwestern Naturalist. (Accepted).
Vandergast AG, R.D. Inman, K.R Barr, K.E. Nussear, T.C. Esque, S.A. Hathaway, D.A. Wood, P.A. Medica, J.W. Breinholt, C.L. Stephen, A.D. Gottscho, S.B. Marks, W.B Jennings, and R.N. Fisher.(2013). Evolutionary Hotspots in the Mojave Desert. Diversity. 2013; 5(2):293-319.
Ainscough, B., J.W. Breinholt, H. Robison, and K. A. Crandall. (2013). Molecular phylogenetics of the burrowing crayfish genus Fallicambarus (Decapoda: Cambaridae). Zoologica Scripta online 4 Jan 2013 DOI: 10.1111/zsc.12006
Breinholt, J.W., M. Porter, and K. A. Crandall. (2012). Testing Phylogenetic Hypotheses of the Subgenera of the Freshwater Crayfish Genus Cambarus (Decapoda: Cambaridae). PLoS ONE 7(9): e46105. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046105.
Stephen, C. L., Reynoso, V. H., Collett, W. S., Hasbun, C. R., and J.W. Breinholt. (2012), Geographical structure and cryptic lineages within common green iguanas, Iguana iguana. Journal of Biogeography. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2012.02780.x.
Pedraza-Lara, C., I. Doadrio, J.W. Breinholt, and K.A. Crandall. (2012). Phylogeny and evolutionary patterns in the dwarf crayfish subfamily (Decapoda:Cambarellinae). PLoS ONE 7(11): e48233. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048233.
Breinholt, J.W., P. Moler, and K. A. Crandall. (2011). Population structure of two crayfish with diverse physiological requirements. In C. Held, A. Wegener, S. Koenemann, and C. D. Schubart, eds. Phylogeography and Population Genetics in Crustacea (Crustacean Issues 19). CRC Press, Florida.
Pérez-Losada, M., R. Bloch, J.W. Breinholt, M. Pfenninger, and J. Dominguez. (2011). Phylogenetic analysis of the earthworm genus Aporrectodea Örley, 1885 (Oligochaeta: Lumbricidae) using DNA barcodes. European Journal of Soil Biology. doi:10.1016/j.ejsobi.2011.10.003
Pérez-Losada, M., J.W. Breinholt, P.G. Porto, M. Aira, and J. Dominguez. (2011) An Earthworm Riddle: Systematics and Phylogeography of the Spanish Lumbricid Postandrilus. PLoS ONE 6(11): e28153. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028153
Breinholt, J.W., M. Préze-Losada, and K. A. Crandall. 2009. The Timing of the Diversification of the Freshwater Crayfishes. Pp. 305-318 in J. W. Martin, K. A. Crandall, and D. L. Felder, eds. Decapod Crustacean Phylogenetics (Crustacean Issues 18). CRC Press, Florida.
Breinholt, J.W., R. Van Buren, O. R. Kopp, and C. L. Stephen. 2009. Population genetic structure of an endangered Utah endemic, Astragalus ampullarioides (Fabaceae). American Journal of Botany. 96:661-667.
Volunteer Manager & Research Assistant
As a lab technician, I assist with and supervise various projects we do here in the Kawahara lab. I also manage an amazing team of dedicated volunteers that help us achieve so many of our research goals. Some of the main projects I am focused on include creating, updating, and organizing the wing voucher and molecular collection and database, rearing luna moth (Actias luna) and Falco (Xylophanes falco) caterpillars for moth & bat interactions, and doing behavioral/mating experiments with adult luna moths. I also work in Jaret Daniel’s lab assisting with fieldwork surveying native milkweed in Florida.
My main interests are in the areas of conservation, and public outreach/education. Some of my past research has involved monitoring endangered shorebirds, and studying the monarch migration, both in southern New Jersey. I am still extremely passionate about monarchs, especially in a time when their migration is threatened by agricultural pesticide use, climate change, and loss of habitat. Please help out by planting some native milkweed! I feel that it’s not only important to study science and conduct research but to share and educate the general public in order to help make an impact in protecting wildlife and our planet.
I also manage my own art business and am usually painting pet portraits and creating animal artwork in my free time. You can check out my website here.
Lab Coordinator & Research Assistant
As the lab coordinator, I manage the social media for the lab, coordinate volunteer work, organize lab outings and travel plans, and maintain greenhouses that hold host plants for caterpillar rearing. I also spend my time as a research assistant and have focused my research on geometric morphometrics in the Saturniidae family. While supervising prior high school student, Minjia Zhong, we were interested in how selection was acting on various wing types and if there is a specific wing type that is being favored and allowing for higher success rates – i.e. evading bat predation. I oversee other various projects in the lab that involve hawkmoth ultrasound experiments and luna moth mating experiments. In the past, I have assisted graduate students with field work in Hawaii and Peru, and have led a student trip in southern Arizona.
Additional past research has been focused on wildflower conservation on roadsides and backyard pollinator studies. More recently, I work as the taxon recovery assistant for a Disney conservation grant, which involves conserving at-risk butterflies in peninsular Florida and southern California. I aspire to continue my studies in the conservation field, and hope to focus on plant-insect interactions.
High School Student
HHMI Undergraduate Fellow
High School Student
Mu Alpha High School Fellow