Lab Alumni

Former Post Docs
Former Graduate Students
Former Undergraduate Researchers
Former Visiting Scientists
Computer Programmers
Other Lab Alumni


Former Post Docs

postdoc_MarinaAscunce.jpgMarina S. Ascunce
PhD University of Buenos Aires, Argentina
My research interests focus on broad questions in evolution and ecology, specifically those regarding the processes that drive biological diversity in social groups, populations and species, as well as in host-parasite interactions. In the Reed lab I am working with a fascinating organism: the human head louse. This macroparasite is a highly specialized blood-sucking insect that completes its entire life cycle on the human head. Over millions of years this closed association has led to coevolution in which louse diversification parallels that of humans. Therefore, we can use louse molecular data to infer the evolutionary history of lice and also of their human hosts. To analyze a large number of louse genetic markers I developed a set of multiplex-microsatellite assays. Thanks to a large international collaborative effort we collected more than 1,000 lice worldwide for genotyping. Stay tuned, more coming up soon.


postdoc_JulieAllen.jpgJulie Allen
PhD University of Florida
I am interested in understanding how animals have evolved over time. In particular, animals that must rely on other organisms like parasites and mutualists. I answer questions about these organisms on two levels. First, I look at deeper evolutionary relationships between thee parasites and compare those with the evolutionary relationships of their hosts. Here we ask questions about how closely these animals have coevolved with their hosts. However, we know that these patterns are the result of processes that are happening at the population level. Therefore, second, I am interested in population level interactions; for example, how these parasites move from host to host and how the behavior of a host affects the parasite. Learn more about Julie's research.


postdoc_JessicaLight.jpgJessica E. Light
PhD, Louisiana State University
Jessica’s research interests include phylogenetics and population genetics of mammals and parasites. She am particularly interested in investigating cospeciation between mammals and their parasites to determine which factors are important in driving the association between these distantly related taxa. She is now an Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University.


Former Graduate Students

gradstudent_BretBoyd.jpgBret Boyd 
PhD student, UF Genetics Institute

I am interested in applying genomic data to understand how lice capture and retain new bacterial symbionts. Louse-bacterial symbiosis is a perfect system in which to test questions of animal-bacteria symbiosis, because the symbiosis has arisen multiple times in closely related louse species. I am currently investigating the possibility that horizontal gene transfer may facilitate symbiont replacement in lice. This research focuses on a small bacterial chromosome that encodes for de novo synthesis of pantothenate found in human lice. Pantothenate is considered to be an essential product that the symbiont produces for the louse and acquisition of the plasmid might facilitate symbiont replacement. I am also developing methods to sequence and assemble whole genomes of louse symbionts. I am currently investigating whole genomes from nine different louse symbionts and comparing them to one another. From this work I hope to determine if distantly related louse symbionts are converging a similar set of genes and genomic features, even though these symbiont are not closely related. I suspect convergence on similar genomic characteristics might facilitate retention and stasis of new louse symbionts.


gradstudent_AngeloSoto.jpgAngelo Soto-Centeno
PhD student, Dept of Biology
I am fascinated by population genetics, phylogeography, distribution modeling, and the application of computer software to solve population level evolutionary problems. I use distribution models, fossils, and genetics to study how climate change affects populations of bats on Caribbean Islands. DNA serves as a distinctive marker for each population and can give us information about evolutionary processes that occur today and in the past. I analyze DNA under a coalescent framework (i.e. projected towards the past) to understand island bat population sizes, movement of bats among islands, etc., over time. Also, I use current and fossil-validated population distribution models to understand the changes that may have occurred in populations and their available habitat as climate changed. The combined use of DNA, coalescent methods, distribution models, and fossils is very powerful and allows me to learn about the evolutionary processes that shaped island bat populations and how bats reacted to climate change in the past, which is very important to have an understanding of what happens to these bats today and to be able to predict what may happen to them in the future. 
Personal website:


postdoc_JulieAllen.jpgJulie Allen
PhD Student, Dept. of Biology
I am interested in understanding how animals have evolved over time. In particular, animals that must rely on other organisms like parasites and mutualists. I answer questions about these organisms on two levels. First, I look at deeper evolutionary relationships between thee parasites and compare those with the evolutionary relationships of their hosts. Here we ask questions about how closely these animals have coevolved with their hosts. However, we know that these patterns are the result of processes that are happening at the population level. Therefore, second, I am interested in population level interactions; for example, how these parasites move from host to host and how the behavior of a host affects the parasite. Learn more about Julie's research.


gradstudent_MelissaToups.jpgMelissa Toups
M.S. student, Dept. of Biology
Melissa studied host/parasite co-demography and co-evolution in my lab. She has two manuscripts that she’s working up now on the microsats that she developed for human lice, and a manuscript using clothing lice to explore hypotheses of clothing use in early hominids. She is now a PhD student in Matt Hahn’s lab at Indiana.


gradstudent_CatalinaRivadeneira.jpgCatalina Rivadeneira
M.S. student, School of Natural Resources and the Environment
I am studying the genetic change in two populations of Florida Mice (Podomys floridanus) separated in time by 50 years. We have typed microsatellite loci from populations in the 1950s, 1980s, and 2000s, thanks to collections in the Florida Museum of Natural History. This effectively lets us go back in time to examine the population genetics of historical populations, and look at how those populations have changed over the last 50 years. This is especially important when land-use changes have been dramatic as they have been during the last 50 years in the state of Florida.


Former Undergraduate Researchers

undergradstudent_GebreyesKassu.jpgGebreyes Kassu
Bachelors of Science - Department of Biology
I’ve been studying the genetics of human parasites and symbiotic bacteria that live within them. Specifically, we are looking to see what influence symbionts have had on the evolution of a human louse parasite. Most of my work involves lots and lots of PCR looking for signs of certain bacteria such as Wolbachia.



undergradstudent_Melina.jpgMelina G. Marte
Bachelors of Health Science - Occupational Therapy
I am extremely interested in human health specifically in how environmental pathogens are transmitted through interactions with various hosts. It is important to understand how these interactions may lead to the spread of bacteria, fungi, and viruses especially through human contact with bats and their environment. For my honor’s thesis I am studying the cave microbiota (bacteria and fungi) of different caves in the Bahamas. Cave environments can harbor a myriad of microorganisms, most of which are unknown due to the uniqueness of the microhaibtats where they thrive. Under the advise of Angelo Soto-Centeno, I am doing a general inventory of the different bacterial and fungal species we can find in relatively undisturbed (low human/bat contact) and disturbed caves (high human/bat contact) to determine the potential pathogens to which bats and humans may become in contact with. Additionally, I sampled different species of bat to assess their potential as carriers of cave bacteria and/or fungi that may further be passed on from one roost to another. In times where disease spread, such as white-nose syndrome, has a high potential to endanger bat populations, understanding the diversity of cave microbiota is important to assess the general health and probability of spread among populations of bat.


undergradstudent_KristinMagrini.jpgKristin Magrini (undergraduate researcher). Kristin started in the lab last year, and has been working on virtually every project we have going at the moment. However, she is leading a research project looking at measures of gene flow among island populations of a common Caribbean bat (Mexican free-tailed bat, Tadarida brasiliensis).


undergradstudent_JackieFane.jpgJackie Fane
I am a biology major in my third year of undergrad. I am really interested in medicine and how the human body works and I plan on going to medical school after graduation. I am currently working on a project involving the evolution of human lice and how that might relate to the evolution of humans. I have been investigating two deeply divergent lineages of lice that both occur on living humans. They are really old, and share a common ancestor about a million years ago. I am trying to learn whether these lice are geographically clustered around the world.


undergradstudent_TyChristian.jpgTy Christian
I studied brocket deer in Panama with Jorge Pino in association with UF’s PCP PIRE program. Its an NSF-funded program to promote international research, in this case, in Panama.


undergradstudent_KatieScholl.jpgKatie Scholl
I am an undergraduate majoring in art history and anthropology originally from Key West, Florida. I am currently working on a University Scholars project to determine the genetic structure of parasite populations of a species of sucking louse (Pedicinus badii) that parasitizes Red Colobus monkeys in Uganda. We are looking to see how the structure of the host populations impacts the genetic structure of the parasite. I am currently developing a microsatellite library by searching 454 sequence data from the parasite for microsatellites.


undergradstudent_DaphnaShaw.jpgDaphna Shaw
I am a 4th year Biology student originally from Tampa, Florida. I am interested in avian sexual selection, particularly factors that promote extra-pair paternity (EPP) in certain species. My current project is in conjunction with Dr. Robinson from the Ordway Lab and Dr. Reed from the Molecular Mammalogy Lab at the Florida Museum of Natural History. My goal is to determine if high territory density and inbreeding avoidance contribute to the presence of EPP in a Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) population present on the UF campus. Funding for my project is made possible through the University Scholars Program and the Wilson Ornithological Society. After I earn my B.S. degree in May 2011, I plan to attend medical school (location still unknown). My career aspirations include becoming a pediatric physician. I really enjoy volunteering and spending time with my family and friends.


undergradstudent_ChelseySpirson.jpgChelsey Spirson
My research takes advantage of specimens of Key Largo Woodrats (Neotoma floridana smalli) in the Mammal Collection that were collected in the 1950s. I’ve taken skin snips from these specimens and typed 15 microsatellite loci, which I am comparing to the living population in Key Largo today. Although all of the analyses are not complete, we see that there has been some loss of genetic diversity over the last 50 years, but not nearly as much as might have been predicted.


undergradstudent_KarenOlson.jpgKaren Olson
One of the unknown questions relating to the Key Largo Woodrats mentioned above, is how much gene flow is there between this isolated island population and the mainland population in peninsular Florida? The considerable geographic distance separating Key Largo from the nearest mainland population has caused researchers to assume that gene flow has been non-existent in modern times. This is a testable hypothesis using specimens already housed in the Mammal Collection, and will be the focus of my research in the Reed Lab.


undergradstudent_KyleFinn.jpgKyle Finn
My primary project in the mammal range focuses on processing Florida Panthers (Puma concolor coryi) we receive from FWC for placement into the collection. I am eager to start a morphometric study of the panthers in our collection using CT scanning. My goal is to quantify the extent of morphometric alterations induced by the genetic out-breeding with Texas female panthers My other projects include curating various taxa (currently Gray Squirrels (Sciurus carolensis), preparing study skins, and cleaning a collection of bobcat (Lynx rufus) and North American river otter skulls (Lontra canadensis) from the 1980s.


undergradstudent_SergioGonzalez.jpgSergio Gonzalez
Sergio is working on a number of undergraduate research projects associated with his University Scholars Award. But, he is also looking at Niche Modeling as a tool to explore phylogeography around a common phylogeographic break in the southeastern US.


undergradstudent_LisaBarrow.jpgLisa Barrow
University Scholars Program, now at FSU
Her research investigated the Southeastern Pocket Gopher, which is a species that was instrumental in staring the field of phylogeography (Avise, 1979). This species occurs in two forms that have a large genetic break at the Apalachicola and Flint Rivers. We are using mtDNA collected from museum skins to examine this species throughout its range, including isolated populations that are now completely extirpated and exist only in the Mammal Collection. In addition, she used using niche modeling to determine whether the two genetic lineages have distinctly different fundamental niches. She was recently awarded an NSF Predoctoral Fellowship and is in the Ph.D. program at FSU in the Moriarty Lemmon Lab.


undergradstudent_JuditUngvari.jpgJudit Ungvari-Martin
Undergraduate research, Dept. of Zoology
Judit worked on several projects with Julie Allen. She was recently awarded an NSF Predoctoral Fellowship for her research, and is a PhD student in Scott Robinson’s lab at UF.


undergradstudent_TamarCarter.jpgTamar Carter
Undergrad researcher, University Scholars Program
Tamar worked on a number of project in our lab as an undergraduate, and present her research at the SMBE meetings in Barcelona, Spain in 2008. She was recently awarded an NSF Predoctoral Fellowship, and is now enrolled in the Genetics Graduate Program at UF studying molecular anthropology with Connie Mulligan.


undergradstudent_ShellyFlanagin.jpgShelly Flanagin
Undergraduate researcher


undergradstudent_LaurenLong.jpgLauren Long
Lauren was an undergraduate working on numerous projects in the molecular lab. She is now a graduate student in wetlands here at UF.


undergradstudent_KierAncona.jpgKier Ancona
Kier worked in the mammal collections for many years as both a volunteer and as a paid curatorial assistant. Kier recently graduated with a M.S. in Biology from the Dept. of Biology at Valdosta State University.


lab_EmeritaRicci.jpgEmerita Ricci
Emer helped get the lab up and running when I first moved to Gainesville. She learned how to do DNA extractions, PCR, and cloning within a semester and was instrumental in getting the first bits of data in the new lab. Last I heard she was in Raleigh.


Former Visiting Scientists

visit_ArielToloza.jpgAriel Toloza
Ariel is visiting the lab from Argentina. He works in the laboratory of María Inés Piccolo studying insecticide resistance in head lice. He is learning new molecular skills in our lab, and we are collaborating with Ariel and Maria to determine what constitutes a “population” of head lice in Buenos Aires.


visit_MaryLuz.jpgMary Luz
Mary Luz is visiting from Panama. She is learning some new molecular skills in the lab, such as DNA extraction, PCR, and DNA sequencing. She is helping Jorge with some of his ongoing work on Singing Mice while she is here.


Computer Programmers

programmers_GregTraub.jpgGreg Traub
BioCorder Programmer
Greg was a programmer for the NSF-funded BioCorder project.


programmers_SimonRycroft.jpgSimon Rycroft
BioCorder Programmer
Simon was a programmer for the NSF-funded BioCorder project. He is now working with Vincent Smith at the British Natural History Museum on the Sketchpad project.


programmers_MattCollins.jpgMatt Collins
BioCorder Lead Programmer
Matt was the lead programmer and project manager for the NSF-funded BioCorder project. BioCorder serves a few functions. It acts as a Lab Information Management System (LIMS) for work done in the molecular lab, but it also helps specimen-based biologists by linking work done in the molecular lab back to the original specimens collected. BioCorder also serves to foster collaboration among geographically distant labs by allowing collaborators to have real-time access to the same data.


programmers_NithyaV.jpgNithya V.
Nithya was a programmer for the BioCorder project, and a graduate student from the CISE Dept.


Other Lab Alumni

lab_OlgaMontenegro.jpgOlga L. Montenegro
Olga worked for us during her time as a PhD student in UF's Dept. of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. She helped acquire latitude/longitude coordinates for the mammal collection, and is now a professor in her home country of Colombia.


girl_placeholder.pngSonia Cavanelli
Sonia too worked for us during her PhD program in the Dept. of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. She also helped us to calculate latitude/longitude coordinates for the mammal collection.


lab_LaurieWilkins.jpgLaurie Wilkins
Research Associate
Laurie is working on both research and education/outreach projects. She has studied our extensive collection of Florida Panthers to evaluate diet and health in this highly inbred and dwindling population. Her research investigates the all-too common bone abnormalities that afflict these large cats. Laurie and Dr. Reed recently received a grant from the University of Florida International Center to teach a new field course in Costa Rica entitled "Conservation and sustainability in Costa Rica." The funds will help pay for Costa Rican instructors (scientists and other stakeholders) to come to the field site to teach. This course will be taught on a newly developed site on the Osa Penninsula that hopes to provide eco-friendly tourism that has a very low impact on the environment (Cerro Osa Farm). We will use the course (hopefully yearly) to help them assess their impact.


people_PedroMendez.jpgPedro Mendez
Research Associate

Pedro recently finished his M.S. at Oxford studying neotropical primatology. You can read about his current research here.



people_candacemccaffery.jpg Candace McCaffery
Collection Manager

Candace was responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Mammal Collection until her retirement in June 2014.



people_RobertoQuinonez.jpgRoberto Quinonez