Left-to-right: Geoff Gallice, Lei Xiao, Elena Ortiz-Acevedo, Minjia Zhong, Francesca Ponce, Cassandra Romero, Yuxin Zhang, Jesse Breinholt, Susan Sorrell, Davys Lopez, Qianju Jia, Gaeun Lee, Tatum Norrell, Akito Kawahara
My work focuses on evolution of insects, and I am interested in historical transitions in life-history traits, such as behavior. My research is centered on Lepidoptera both at higher phylogenetic levels and within particular groups, but I also work with researchers that study other arthropods. We use DNA sequences and other sources of data to build trees and test ecological and evolutionary hypotheses. A YouTube clip on how I became interested in Lepidoptera can be found in this Explore Research Video.
Lei Xiao, Ph.D.:
Lei has a Ph.D. degree in biochemistry/molecular biology and helps coordinate many projects in the lab. She also takes care of the day-to-day functions, helps train students, and provides technical support for ongoing projects in the lab.
Jesse is a new postdoc that started in June 2012. While he is a specialist of crayfish, he is currently helping run many phylogenetic analyses on Lepidoptera phylogenetics and evolution.
Muhammad is an incoming postdoc, expected to start in Summer, 2013.
Geoff is a graduate student supervised by Keith Willmott. He is studying large-scale patterns in abundance and distribution for a mega-diverse Neotropical insect group, butterflies of the family Nymphalidae. Geoff conducts part of his research in the McGuire rearing lab where we rear hawkmoths.
Peter has traveled around the world and is especially interested in biodiversity of SE Asia. He previously worked with Keith Willmott on the phylogeography of Andean butterflies, and is planning on starting as a graduate student in Biology starting in Fall 2013.
Chris will be a new student in the Department of Entomology and Nematology starting in Fall 2013. He is planning a master’s degree project on the Hawaiian Philodoria leaf miners.
Elena is a Ph.D. student working on the evolution of the spectacular genus Agrias and relatives with Keith Willmott. She completed her Master’s degree in the Department of Entomology and Nematology and is now working on her Ph.D.
Pablo Sebastián Padrón:
Sebastian is a graduate student working on molecular systematics and biogeography of Catasticta, a particularly diverse, endemic radiation of montane pierid butterflies in the Andes. His primary advisor is Keith Willmott.
Qianju is a new graduate student in the Department of Entomology and Nematology. He is pursuing a master’s degree and currently planning his research project.
Lary recently obtained his MS from the Department of Entomology and Nematology, and will be starting his Ph.D. this year.
Francesca is a Howard Hughes Research Undergraduate Sophomore, supported through the prestigious Science For Life Program of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at UF (UF-HHMI). She is currently working on a project on the evolution of Eumorpha hawkmoths. She is also helping build the nucleic acid (DNA) frozen collection and vouchers of molecular samples. Francesca is from Ecuador.
Cassie is measuring leg spines of hawkmoths for our project on hawkmoths and bats. She recently traveled to the British Museum of Natural History in London to work with Dr. Ian Kitching as an NSF-REU research assistant. She is also working in the McGuire Center Collections with Andrew Warren and Andrei Sourakov.
Jillian is currently helping process specimens of hawkmoths sampled in Borneo, Ecuador, and French Guiana. She is a very diligent worker and is learning PCR techniques.
High School Students
Rosie is a junior from Gainesville High School. She helps label and sort ethanol-preserved specimens for our -80C freezer and has started to conduct PCR work in the lab.
Yuxin is a student from Eastside high school in Gainesville. She helps catalog ethanol-preserved specimens for DNA analysis.
Minjia is a student from Buchholtz high school in Gainesville. She is helping prepare and catalog ethanol-preserved specimens for future DNA analysis. Minjia is an extremely quick learner and has already learned PCR techniques in the lab.
Shahpar is currently helping database pinned hawkmoth specimens for Akito Kawahara and Keith Willmott. She is working as a volunteer directly with graduate students Peter Houlihan and Chris Johns.
Geena is currently managing the larval rearing program for Actias luna and Xylophanes tersa. She will also be in charge of rearing Xylophanes falco and X. tersa for the hawkmoth project in the Kawahara lab. Geena practices horticultural techniques and is growing the host plants Bouvardia ternifolia and Pentas lanceolta that will be necessary for the project. She also works in the Butterfly Rainforest and is looking into graduate school.
Matt is currently helping prepare samples for collaborative work involving DNA barcoding of moths. Matt also works with Andrei Sourakov and Jaret Daniels, and recently participated in an expedition to Ecuador. Matt is interested outreach and education and helps oversee the day-to-day duties pertaining to caterpillars in the rearing lab.
Susan is a very dedicated volunteer preparing Lepidoptera wing vouchers for our DNA database. She previously helped with database entry.
Other Molecular Lab Users
Keith is an Associate Curator of Lepidoptera at the McGuire Center. He studies the systematics of Neotropical butterflies, especially tropical Andean Nymphalidae. He is affiliated with the Department of Entomology and Nematology has many students that conduct molecular work in the DNA lab.
Andrei Sourakov, Ph.D.:
Andrei is a collections coordinator at the McGuire Center. In addition to morphological and ecological work, he is also utilizing molecular data to understand relationships within the butterfly genus Calisto and other model groups of Lepidoptera. He also has a general interest in DNA-barcoding. You can find more about his work here
Andrew Warren, Ph.D.:
Andy is a world renowned expert on skippers (Hesperiidae). He has revised the higher-level classification of the family, and continues to work on various molecular projects pertaining to Lepidoptera systematics and evolution. Andy is the Senior Collections Manager at the McGuire Center and conducts some of his research in the molecular lab.
Angel is an undergraduate student at Santa Fe College and helped prepare specimens for the Kawahara lab. He hopes to transfer to UF soon, and has his own personal Lepidoptera collection.
Ga-Eun was a visiting researcher from Korea. She worked on a project on the natural history of the Hawaiian Dancing Moth, Dryadaula terpsichorella. She currently has a manuscript accepted for publication her research at the McGuire Center.
Davys worked as a junior in our lab. He helped generate sequence data for a project on hawkmoth phylogeny. Davys is originally from Costa Rica, and transferred from Santa Fe College.
Karina helped prepare specimens for the Kawahara lab. She previously worked on lemurs in Madagascar.
Tatum worked as a senior in our lab, and helped rear hawkmoths and saturniids for the NSF-funded Hawkmoth project. Tatum also conducted research on mosses in the McDaniel Lab at UF.
Jono previously worked on a Master’s Thesis on butterfly conservation with Tom Emmel. He is currently finishing up several projects in the lab.