Students & Volunteers



Indah Huegele, Paleobotany

Indah Huegele, Paleobotany

Indah Huegele

Ph.D. Student
Department of Biology
Florida Museum of Natural History
Advisor: Dr. Steven R. Manchester

I'm currently working with Dr. Steven Manchester on a project regarding the floristic diversity of the Oligocene Catahoula Formation in Texas, though I plan to initiate a larger phylogenetic project over a yet-to-be-decided-upon angiosperm lineage for my dissertation. I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Geology with a minor in Biology from the University of Texas at Austin, wherein I conducted research on a species of traversodontid eucynodont Exaeretodon argentinus using CT data to study its ontogeny and dentition. I am very interested in morphological evolution (especially as is reflected through phylogeny), and have an endearing love for collections.


Rebecca Koll, paleobotany jpg

Rebecca Koll, Paleobotany

Rebecca Koll

Ph.D. candidate
Department of Biology
Florida Museum of Natural History
Advisor: Dr. Steve Manchester

I am a new PhD student working with Dr. William DiMichele (National Museum of Natural History) and Dr. Steven Manchester (Florida Museum of Natural History). I come to the University of Florida with an undergraduate background in tropical horticulture and a Master of Science in Geography. My research interests center on the biogeographic connection of paleobotanical and palynological evidence with changing climate and migratory pathways during the Paleozoic. I hope to gain a better understanding of the historical processes influencing the community structure and radiation patterns present in the Permian landscape of North America. Major themes of this research include the evolutionary relationships of plant communities as well as the influence these communities have on the environment and what this indicates for future climate. My current research is focused on temporal and spatial distribution of the Permian Period Gigantopterids through examination of their biogeography, stratigraphy, and systematics.

Bob Spielbauer, paleobotany jpg

Bob Spielbauer, Paleobotany

Bob Spielbauer

Ph.D. Student
Advisor: Dr. Steven R. Manchester

I am a new PhD student working under Dr. Steven Manchester. Before attending the University of Florida, I received undergraduate degrees in Earth Science, Environmental Science: Geology, and Biology: Ecology & Evolution as well as a minor in Geology from the University of Northern Iowa. For my dissertation, I am interested in researching the evolutionary history of an angiosperm lineage (to be determined) by incorporating the morphological data from fossil and modern taxa into molecular phylogenetic analyses of the modern taxa. From this, I hope to build a more accurate phylogeny with improved divergence date estimates. I am also interested in studying the historical biogeography and diversity of my angiosperm lineage to better understand how its global distribution has changed throughout time. My initial research has been on the family Platanaceae, which has an excellent fossil record and only one extant genus, Platanus. However, the low number of extant species (11) does not support the phylogenetic aspect of my research interests, so I am currently determining which angiosperm lineage would best suit my goals.

Mackenzie, paleobotany jpg

Mackenzie Smith, Paleobotany

MacKenzie Smith

PhD Student
Department of Biology
Florida Museum of Natural History
Advisor: Dr. Steven Manchester

I got my BS in Zoology and minor in Geology from Oregon State University. There I helped describe a new species of Cretaceous Osmundaceous fern from British Columbia along with Drs. Gar Rothwell and Ruth Stockey.

For my thesis I am working on describing the flora preserved in lake sediments from new localities of the Eocene Clarno Formation of Central Oregon. One of my goals is to try to figure out the paleoelevation for the sites and date them in order to make accurate comparisons with other floras. By making these comparisons, we can hopefully have a better understanding of climate change during this time and know more about the biogeography of the plants at these sites.

My other research at UF looks at the paleobiogeography of butternuts and at paleontological outreach under FOSSIL (Fostering Opportunities for Synergetic STEM with Informal Learners) -


Jane Blanchard, paleobotany jpgJane Blanchard

Jane has been volunteering at the McGuire Center's butterfly collection and the Paleobotany and Palynology division in Dickinson Hall since December 6, 2007.

Jane has been helping to curate the McGuire Center's Neotropical (North and South America) butterfly collection since January 2008, and since then has made an extraordinary contribution. Jane has been helping to merge the collections together into a single, well-curated and labeled collection

At the same time, Jane also serves at the Paleobotany and Palynology division in Dickinson Hall, utilizing her strong botany background and experiences in research labs to help curate the fossil plant collection. With Jane’s help, two monographs documenting the flowering plant diversity based on fossil flowers, fruits, and seeds preserved in rocks collected from localities from northern Mississippi and western Tennessee have been published, and three projects are in progress.  

In 2011, Jane won the James Pope Cheney Volunteer of the Year Award, presented annually to recognize the Florida Museum of Natural History volunteers who have demonstrated exceptional interest in the collections of the Museum, sincere and extraordinary interest in the educational advancement of children; and enthusiastic support for our community of volunteers.