Current Lab Members

Picture of AlversonAndrew Alverson
aja@uark.edu

Andy received his B.S. in Biology in 1997 from Grand Valley State University in Michigan. He went on to receive a M.S. degree in Entomology and EEB from Iowa State University in 2000. He earned his Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin in 2006 studying the patterns and consequences of marine–freshwater transitions by diatoms. From there he went on to Jeff Palmer's lab at Indiana University where he worked on the evolution of mitochondrial genome size in flowering plants with funding from a NIH NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship. In 2011, he became an Assistant Professor at the University of Arkansas. Andy is the recipient of a Simons Foundation Early Career Investigator in Marine Microbial Ecology and Evolution (2015) and an NSF CAREER award.

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Picture of RuckElizabeth Ruck
ruck@uark.edu

Elizabeth received her Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin in 2010. For her dissertation research, Elizabeth studied the phylogeny and systematics of the diatom order Surirellales, which gave insights into the origins of endemic species in ancient lakes. Elizabeth runs day-to-day operations in the lab and is studying the plastid genome evolution in diatoms. She's especially interested in understanding patterns of deterioration in the plastid genomes of non-photosynthetic species.

Picture of PinseelEveline Pinseel
eapinsee@uark.edu

Eveline finished her PhD at Ghent University in 2019. Her research was focused on the discovery of cryptic variation in the terrestrial diatom, Pinnularia borealis, which is far more diverse and widespread than anyone imagined. She joined the lab in 2019 on a fellowship jointly sposored by the Fulbright Program and the Belgian American Educational Foundation. In 2020, Eveline was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Marine Microbial Ecology from the Simons Foundation to support her research on diatom adaptation to low salinity.

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Picture of RobertsWade Roberts
wader@uark.edu

Wade joined the lab in summer 2018. He earned a PhD from Washington State University, where he studyied phylogenomics and floral development in the genus Achimenes (magic flowers) with Eric Roalson. Wade is studying phylogenomics of the diatom order Thalassiosirales, a model diatom lineage that exhibits substantial genome size variation and spans the marine–freshwater salinity gradient.

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Picture of DowneyKala Downey

Kala completed her undergraduate and MS degrees at Austin Peay State University, where she studied population structure in an endangered grass species. Kala began in fall 2016. She's studying the evolution of gene expression in marine and freshwater diatoms in the genus Cyclotella.

Picture of GargasCory Gargas
cbgargas@email.uark.edu

Cory joined the lab in fall 2018 after receing his Master's degree from John Carroll University, where he studied the phylogenetic position of the diatom genus Orthoseira. You can learn more about Cory on his website.

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Picture of JudyKathryn Judy
kjjudy@email.uark.edu

Kathryn completed her honors research studying the short-term response to salinity stress by diatoms and joined the lab as a graduate student in 2020 to continue this work.