Current Graduate Students

Lauren Halauren_pic.jpgmmer
PhD student - Biology Department

I am interested in the evolution, biogeography, and conservation of vertebrates, particularly mammals. I received a B.S. in Environmental Sciences from the University of Virginia in 2013 and a M.S. in Biology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2015.

My current research focuses on bat populations in The Bahamas. I am using genetics, fossil data, and trait-based characteristics of these species to examine historical and contemporary migration patterns, ancient and modern population structure, and patterns of extinction.

Aditi JayarajProfilePic_AditiJ.jpgan
PhD student - Biology Department

I am broadly interested in the themes of evolutionary biology and population genetics. My current research is focused on bat populations in the Caribbean islands. I plan to use fossil data, ancient DNA, morphology and genetics in order to advance our understanding of how populations are structured and how they evolve over time.

In the past, I worked at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India. My research was focused on examining the factors which impact distribution and diversification patterns of frogs, lizards and snakes across the Western Ghats in India. I also love photographing the natural world and thinking about science.

ice_caves-mqt.jpgNiyomi Wijewardena
PhD student - Biology Department

My research interests are historical biogeography/phylogeography of mammals and their ectoparasites. More specifically, I use molecular data from ectoparasites to infer historical host movement. I find ectoparasites to be particularly interesting because of their exposure to the outer environment as well as its host’s body. This property helps us uncover the effects of historical climate change and other external variables on both the host and the parasite. My current project involves studying human head lice to infer evolutionary histories of humans. I plan to sequence whole lice genomes and use sophisticated methods to understand the distribution of lice lineages across the world. This will allow us to understand relative gene flow across these lineages and ultimately provide insight into when and where anatomically-modern humans came into contact with archaic hominins.




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