My research investigates the evolution and diversity of invertebrates, especially the butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera). My lab integrates many approaches, including phylogenetic, behavioral, functional genomic, and biodiversity informatics. We use Next-Gen DNA/RNA sequences and other sources of data to build trees, examine gene function, and test ecological and evolutionary hypotheses. A YouTube clip on how I became interested in Lepidoptera can be found in this Explore Research Video. While my appointment is through the Florida Museum of Natural History, I am also joint appointed through the Dept. of Biology and Dept. of Entomology and Nematology. Students can enroll through either of these departments.
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 postdoc that started in June 2012. While he is a specialist of crayfish, he is currently helping run several bioinformatic pipelines on Lepidoptera Next-Gen datasets.
Muhammad is an incoming postdoc, expected to start in 2013.
Nick is a new Master’s student in the Department of Entomology and he is interested in the systematics and evolution of Erebidae. He previously studied in the Miller lab at University of New Mexico as an undergraduate student and conducted an honors thesis on the systematics of Heteranassa. He has been collecting moths since he was four years old.
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 has started as a Ph.D. graduate student in the Department of Biology is considering working on hawkmoth ecology and evolution.
Chris is a new student in the Department of Entomology and Nematology. He is working on a master’s degree project on the endemic Hawaiian Philodoria leaf miners. He often travels to Hawaii where he conducts his research. He is also an accomplished photographer and keeps a regular blog. He also has created a crowdsourcing video on the project, called the “Hawaiian Leaf Miner Project”. He previously worked on a biodiversity conservation project in the Philippines.
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.
Qianju is a graduate student in the Department of Entomology and Nematology. He is pursuing a Master’s degree on Phyllocnistis leaf miners on citrus.
Lary recently obtained his Master’s degree from the Department of Entomology and Nematology, and will be starting his Ph.D. this year. He is originally from the Philippines, and is an accomplished photographer and naturalist.
Michelle recently started a project on geographic variation in hawkmoth tongue lengths. She previously helped prepare Lepidoptera wing vouchers for our DNA database. She is planning to go to dental school and is gaining lab experience.
Yani is helping care for Xylophanes larvae in the rearing lab. She is currently planning a research project and also preparing Lepidoptera wing vouchers for our DNA database.
Francesca is a Howard Hughes Research Undergraduate Junior, 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.
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. She is also working with Geena Hill on a project on saturniid wing morphometrics.
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, Xylophanes tersa, and Xylophanes falco. 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.
Cassie worked on a project measuring leg spines of hawkmoths for our project on hawkmoths and bats. She traveled to the British Museum of Natural History in London to work with Dr. Ian Kitching as an NSF-REU research assistant. She also worked in the McGuire Center Collections with Andrew Warren and Andrei Sourakov.
Jono previously worked on a Master’s Thesis on butterfly conservation with Tom Emmel. He is currently finishing up several projects in the lab.