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 NakovTeofil Nakov
teofiln@gmail.com

Teo joined the lab as a post-doc in September 2014. He's orignally from Macedonia, but he moved to the U.S. to to complete a PhD with Ed Theriot at The University of Texas at Austin. His work there mainly centered on using phylogenetic comparative methods to understand the evolution of different diatom traits, like growth habit and cell size. Teo has been investigating diversification dynamics and whole-genome duplication across diatoms. He's currently leading the project on local adaptation of Skeletonema marinoi across the Baltic Sea salinity gradient. You can learn more about Teo here.

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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.

Picture of OnyshchenkoAnastasiia Onyshchenko
ao006@email.uark.edu

Anastasiia is a Fulbright Scholar from Ukraine. She is analyzing the genome of a non-photosynthetic diatom, including trying to better understand the number of losses of photosynthesis across diatoms.

Picture of ClaybaughAlanah Claybaugh
acclayba@email.uark.edu

Alanah is an Honors student who joined the lab in 2017 as a freshman. She's working on diatom–bacteria interactions.

Picture of JudyKathryn Judy
kjjudy@email.uark.edu

Kathryn is an undergraduate Honors student with interests in genomics and bioinformatics.

Picture of RoseKaty Rose
khr001@email.uark.edu

Katy is an undergraduate Honors student who just recently started in the lab. She's currently working with Kala and Teo on a project focused on reconstructing large-scale patterns of salinity transitions in diatoms.

Picture of WiederkehrKatjana Wiederkehr
knwieder@email.uark.edu