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Nikunj is a theoretical biogeographer working in the lab of Dr. Tim Keitt at the Department of Integrative Biology. He is broadly interested in understanding how dispersal generates and maintains biodiversity. As a Stengl-Wyer Fellow, he is building mathematical and statistical theory to understand how human dispersal pathways facilitate the spread of zebra mussels in the inland USA by commercial shipping network. Obviously, he is very fond of cats.



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Nicholas is a PhD candidate in the lab of Dr. Shalene Jha where they work towards the conservation of native pollinators amid rapid habitat loss and degradation. He uses landscape epidemiology to understand how land use change impacts bee movement, foraging behavior, and the risk of contracting infectious disease. His research shows that parasites are shared broadly within communities of bees, and bees are at lower risk of infection in natural areas which support diverse communities of bees.

Currently, he is working in intensive agricultural landscapes trying to understand how parasites are transmitted between bees pollinating pumpkin flowers. He is hoping to see how the landscape impacts bee community diversity, and how the foraging behavior of different species not only determines their effectiveness as pollinators, but also their risk of contracting infectious diseases.

Read more about Nick here...

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Growing up, David always had an interest in the reptilian and amphibian animals of the world and especially in his home state of Texas. As a graduate student, he continues to pursue that passion by studying the responses of herpetofauna (non-avian reptiles and amphibians) to environmental changes. He takes a deep-time approach in his research by studying the fossil remains of herpetofauna from Central Texas. Together with his advisor, Dr. Melissa Kemp, they investigate the long-term responses of herpetofauna over the last 21,000 years using a multipronged and integrative approach by examining both morphological and paleogenomic (ancient DNA) data. They seek to provide a better understanding of the past diversity of herpetofauna in central Texas and the responses of herpetofauna communities during times of considerable environmental change, thus providing an important long-term perspective to inform present-day conservation strategies.


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Julie is a sixth year graduate student co-advised by Drs. Nancy Moran and Jeffrey Barrick. She is passionate about evolutionary biology, synthetic biology, and microbiology. In her PhD research, she studies how pathogenic bacteria evolve to symbiosis with insect hosts, as well as how bacteria evolve under the constraints of intracellularity and vertical transmission.