Lab members

Erin Bentley
Erin Bentley (
M.S. Student

Erin received her undergraduate degree in Animal and Veterinary Science, with a minor in Creative Writing. She is interested in conservation, particularly of local and rare plants in the genus Penstemon. Her first two projects will consider the consequences of rarity for plant genetic diversity and plant microbiomes. She comes to the lab with experience in molecular methods and writing, and wants to build her expertise in computational biology, microbial ecology, and population genetics.

Alex Buerkle (
Principal Investigator

Research: Alex works on the evolutionary genetics of a variety of organisms and prefers those with lots of genetic data and an interesting ecological context. He enjoys analysis and writing computer code in the pursuit of a better understanding of speciation and adaptation.
Teaching: Computational Biology and Computational Biology Practicum

John Calder (
Postdoctoral researcher

John is trained as a paleoecologist. As a postdoc, he is studying microbial communities in lakes and lake sediments along environmental gradients to learn about processes that affect taxon biogeography and community aassembly. He is also developing hierarchical statistical models for biogeography and community ecology.

Josh Harrison (
Postdoctoral researcher

Josh is an evolutionary ecologist who studies plant-microbe and plant-insect interactions. As a postdoc he is developing statistical models that capture the hierarchical nature of microbial assemblages and is using these in observational and experimental settings to build our knowledge of the processes that affect the biogeography and community ecology of microbes.

Vivaswat Shastry
Vivaswat Shastry (
M.S. student

Vivaswat received his undergraduate degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering and is now making the jump to biology. His first project involves parallelization within code to speed up MCMC sampling in Bayesian estimation of large numbers of parameters. He will also work on extending population genetic methods and software for polyploids, in part to facilitate our research on genomic variation in alfalfa that is naturalized in the western United States.

Former lab members

Zach Gompert
Assistant Professor, Utah State University

Zach completed his Ph.D. in the lab in the spring of 2012. He is broadly interested in hybridization, both as an opportunity to dissect components of reproductive isolation and for its creative role in homoploid hybrid speciation. His current empirical research involves hybridization and experimental evolution in Lycaeides butterflies. He also develops analytical approaches for population genomics.

Monia Haselhorst
Monia Haselhorst (
Assistant Professor, Northwest College

Monia is interested in the processes of plant adaptation and speciation. She seeks evolutionary and biogeographic explanations for why a plant is living where it is, how it ended up there, and what made it possible for it to adapt to its environment. Her Ph.D. focused on dynamics of hybridization among six species of North American spruce and environmental correlates of genetic differentiation within two co-distributed species.

Brittany Jenkins
Ph.D. student, Montana State University

Brittany worked in the lab for two years, first as an undergraduate and then as a research assistant. She worked on genetic variation in lodgepole pine and completed two projects on population genetic variation in different species of Penstemon. Thereafter she completed her M.A. at the University of Colorado working with Becca Safran, and then returned to the University of Wyoming as a research scientist for a few years. She is now a Ph.D. student in Microbiology and Immunology working with Doug Kominsky.

Doro Lindtke (
Postdoctoral researcher, University of Calgary

Doro is interested in speciation and hybridization, particularly in the mechanisms that are responsible for the buildup and maintenance of reproductive barriers between incompletely isolated species. She uses computer simulations to study how neutral and non-neutral evolutionary processes can affect the heterogeneity of introgression in hybrid genomes. She is further interested in how the information that resides in hybrid genomes can potentially be used to reveal the genetic architecture of reproductive isolation. Doro joined the lab for a year (2013-2014), after completing her Ph.D. in Christian Lexer's lab at the University of Fribourg. She obtained a fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation to support her work in the lab. She is now a postdoc with Patrik Nosil.

Lauren Lucas
Research scientist and lecturer, Utah State University

Lauren was a research scientist in the lab for a year. She is interested in speciation, hybridization, and phylogeography. She is investigating the contribution of morphological characters to reproductive isolation in Lycaeides butterflies. As part of this research, she is working to identify genetic and developmental constraints on the evolution of wing patterns. Lauren also studies the phylogeographic history of aquatic taxa endemic to aquifers in central Texas. The primary aim of this research is to understand how the history of population divergence and patterns of gene flow vary among taxa with different life histories. This work informs management decisions for the endangered and threatened populations of these taxa. Furthermore, in collaboration with other scientists and teachers, she has developed lessons for the secondary science classroom based on her research.

Liz Mandeville
Liz Mandeville (
Postdoctoral researcher, University of Wyoming

Liz is interested in speciation, adaptation, and hybridization in aquatic systems, primarily in fish. For her Ph.D. she worked on sucker hybridization in the Colorado river basin in the mountain west. As of summer of 2016, she is a postdoc, working with Katie Wagner and Annika Walters.


Tom Parchman
Tom Parchman
Assistant Professor, University of Nevada–Reno

Tom was a postdoctoral research scientist in the lab. His research is at the interface of ecology and evolutionary biology, specifically in the ecological processes that underlie population divergence, speciation, coevolution, and adaptive radiation. His work utilizes field and experimental techniques to quantify natural selection and resulting trait evolution, and molecular markers to address questions involving natural genetic variation and the genetic basis of adaptive evolution. Much of Tom's research has focused on crossbills (Aves: Loxia) and different conifers on which they specialize, and has investigated the contribution of geographically structured coevolution to the diversification of crossbills. His recent work involves phylogeographic and population genomic studies of lodgepole pine, and investigations into the genetic control of adaptive traits, most notably cone serotiny, as well as helping several collaborators obtain and analyze population genomic data.

Qiurong Wang
Qiurong Wang
Postdoctoral researcher, University of Wyoming

Qiurong was a Ph.D. student (2007–2012) in the laboratory and pursued projects related to historical recombination in natural hybrid populations. Qiurong completed her Ph.D. in Jun Ren's laboratory at the University of Wyoming and went on to be a postdoctoral researcher with Steve Ford in UW's Department of Animal Science.