The W.M. Keck Center for Behavioral Biology

Students

Arambula, Sheryl E.

Ph.D. Student, Department of Biological Sciences

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Sheryl’s ongoing research investigates the molecular mechanism(s) by which BPA, an endocrine disruptor, alters the brain to influence sexually dimorphic behaviors.

Baker, Brandon

Ph.D. Student, Genetics Programs

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I am interested in studying the effects of drug intake and addiction. Specifically, I would like to dissect the genetic underpinnings to drug susceptibility and addiction as well as the neuropharmacology of drugs.

Jen_BaltzegarBaltzegar, Jennifer F.

Ph.D. Student (IGERT Fellow), Department of Biological Sciences, Genetics Program

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Jen is broadly interested in studying the differences between populations and species via mechanisms of evolution and impacts of population change, and she is particularly interested in studying the impacts of genetic engineering in agricultural pest species.

Bucci, Angela M.

Ph.D. Student, Department of Entomology

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Sarah-CalhounCalhoun, Sarah

Ph.D. Student, Chemistry Department

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Sarah is interested in developing innovative fundamental tools needed to further current understanding of brain function and dysfunction.  Presently she is focused on fabricating electrode arrays capable of detecting sub-second dynamics of glucose metabolism in the brain.


Carr, Ann L.

Ph.D. Student, Department of Entomology

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Ann studies chemical ecology of host-finding in ticks.

Cash_SarahCash, Sarah A.

Ph.D. Student, Department of Biological Sciences, Genetics Program

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Sarah’s research investigates the spread of two selfish genetic elements in red flour beetle populations. Her work is focused both on characterizing the distributions of these elements in the United States as well as assessing the rate of spread over time via a combination of mathematical modeling and wild-derived experimental populations.


Chen, Brent

Ph.D. Student, Department of Biological Sciences, Genetics Program

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My research focuses on understanding the epigenetic regulation of aging. I utilize *Drosophila melanogaster* to identify changes in chromatin structure and histone modifications that accompany aging.

Eugene-Cheung
Cheung, Eugene

Graduate Student, Department of Biological Sciences

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I am interested in the endocrine mechanisms underlying complex social behaviours in teleost models with a particular focus on the integrative effects of stress on behavioural and physiological function.

Kaitlyn_CoyleCoyle, Kaitlin (Kate) P.

Ph.D. Student, Department of Biological Sciences, Genetics Program

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Kate is interested in how organisms adapt to their environment. Currently, she is using African cichlid fishes from different trophic levels to study how changes in diet impact the developing gut and its microbiome.

Zachary_DeVriesDeVries, Zachary C.

Ph.D. Student, Department of Entomology

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Zachary’s research focuses on the biology and management of urban pests.

Lars-DunawayDunaway, Lars

Ph.D student in Leslie Sombers lab, Department of Chemistry

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Lars was born in Chesterfield, VA, and lived there until he went to school at The College of William & Mary, where he received his B.S. in Chemistry with Honors. He participated in research all four years of undergraduate in the lab of Dr. Robert D. Pike. Outside of school, his interests include racing and restoring motorcycles, bass-fishing, and spending time with friends and family. He is interested in developing new techniques and hardware for use with FSCV to help understand the links between opioid peptides and catecholamine secretion in the central nervous system. He is also working to improve techniques for electrochemistry at single cells.


Johanna_ElsensohnElsensohn, Johanna E.

Ph.D. Student (IGERT Fellow), Department of Entomology

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Johanna is broadly interested in plant/insect interactions and how an insect’s interaction with its environment can help predict movement among landscapes. Her research focuses on the behavior and ecology of agricultural pest species within an IPM framework.


michael-fisher
Fisher, Michael

PhD Student/Navy Entomologist, Entomology & Plant Pathology

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My research focus is on the microbial diversity, ecology and behavior of bed bugs. I am particularly interested in the microbe-microbe interactions and why bed bugs do not biologically transmit diseases or pathogens they may ingest. I also conduct research on various urban pests, as well as medical-veterinary pests. I am an Active Duty Navy Entomologist who specializes in insects of public health.


Funaro, Colin F.

Ph.D. Student, Department of Entomology

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Hamilton, Jamora

Graduate Student, Entomology and Plant Pathology

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I am studying German cockroach chemical communication and behavior, working with aggregation pheromones.

Justa_HeinenHeinen, Justa L.

Ph.D. Student, Department of Biological Sciences

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Justa has broad interests in behavioral and evolutionary ecology, and her Ph.D. research is focused on evolution of genital morphology, tradeoffs between natural and sexual selection, and evolution of sexual signals.

Joel_JohnstunJohnstun, Joel A.

Ph.D. Student, Department of Biological Sciences, Genetics Program

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Ko, Alexander (Alex) E.ko

Ph.D. Student, Department of Entomology

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Alex studies glucose-aversion and insecticide resistance in the German cockroach.

Melissa Slane LammLamm, Melissa Slane

Ph.D. Student, Department of Biological Sciences

Email   |   Personal website

Melissa is broadly interested in how the social environment influences behavior and reproduction. She is investigating whether certain neuropeptide systems transduce social information into reproductive responses in the bluehead wrasse (Thalassoma bifasciatum), a socially-induced sex-changing fish.

Caroline_LeitschuhLeitschuh, Caroline

Ph.D. Student (IGERT Fellow), Department of Biological Sciences

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Caroline is a Biology student in the Genetic Engineering and Society Program with interests in behavioral ecology and sexual selection. She studies the behavior and ecological role of invasive mice on islands.

Losa, Sandra

Ph.D. Student

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Sandra studies identifying mechanisms of the development of the female reproductive system in the rat by assessing effects of neonatal exposure to estrogen mimic compounds.

Lugo-Morales, Leyda Z.

Ph.D. Student

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Leyda studies development of a novel enzyme-modified carbon fiber microelectrode for voltammetric detection of non-electroactive neurotransmitters.

Jamie-Mankiewicz
Mankiewicz, Jamie L.

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Biological Sciences, Borski Lab

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Jamie’s research is focused around the stress response. She studies mechanisms of sex determination in southern flounder, a fish that exhibits environmental sex determination, where stressors like temperature extremes, background color, and exogenous cortisol can masculinize populations. Currently she is evaluating the status of wild NC southern flounder populations and implications of globally rising water temperatures on sex ratios. She is also contributing to work on characterizing a putative membrane glucocorticoid receptor as well as investigating the role of the hormone leptin in the stress response in tilapia.


Matos, Yvonne

Ph.D. Student, Department of Entomology

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Meineke, Emily K.

Ph.D. Student, Department of Entomology

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Emily studies how urban warming affects pest insects and their associates on street trees in Raleigh. She is interested in the roles of insects and microbes in city ecosystem functions (e.g. carbon sequestration, pollination, storm water management) and how we can use these functions to make cities healthier places for biodiversity and human health.

Edwin-MitchellMitchell, Edwin

Ph.D.student, Department of Chemistry

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My research is focused on manipulating the fundamental surface chemistry of carbon-fiber microelectrodes in order to improve their performance as sensors for neuroscience studies.


Mokashi, Sneha

Graduate Student, Department of Biological Sciences, Program of Genetics

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I am interested in the molecular genetics of olfactory behavior in Drosophila. My project involves functionally validating genome wide association analyses for olfactory behavior by looking at the effects of the allelic variants.

Emily_MooreMoore, Emily C.

Ph.D. Student, Department of Biological Sciences, Genetics Program

Email   |   Personal website

Emily’s research is focused on identifying the genetic basis for differences in behavior between species of African cichlid fish, as well as the influence of polygenic sex determiners on sex-specific phenotypes including behavior and color.

Fabio_MorganteMorgante, Fabio

Ph.D. Student, Department of Biological Sciences, Genetics Program

Email

Fabio is interested in genomic prediction of quantitative traits. He uses the DGRP data to understand which is the best way of using genomic information in order to increase the predictive ability of statistical models.

Katherine_Knudsen_MyersMyers, Katherine Knudsen

Ph.D. Student, Department of Biological Sciences, Genetics Program

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Katherine is interested in utilizing genetic manipulation tools for pest management purposes. She is working with Dr. Max Scott to create a transgenic male-only strain of Drosophila suzukii, an Asian fruit fly species that has recently invaded North America and Europe and poses a threat to the fruit industries on both continents. She also has interests in neurodegenerative diseases and the genetic basis of behavior.

Parker, Grace A.

Ph.D. Student, Department of Biological Sciences, Genetics Program

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Grace’s research is focused on identifying specific genes that influence both limited lifespan and reproductive senescence using Drosophila melanogaster.

Rebuli, Meghan E.

Ph.D. Student, Department of Biological Sciences

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Meghan is interested in developmental neuroendocrinology and neuroimmunology. She studies the sex-specific impact of environmental endocrine disruptors on neuroendocrine development and behavior. Specifically, how low dose Bisphenol A exposure alters estrogen receptor densities in the brain, as well as locomotor and anxiety behaviors. More recently, she has become interested in sex differences in microglia and how sex hormones may impact their development.


Roberts, James G.

Ph.D. Student, Department of Chemistry

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James studies advancing microelectrode technology for neuroscience applications.


Nastassja-RhodesRhodes, Nastassja

Ph.D. student, Chemistry Department

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Nastassja was born in Shreveport, LA in 1986. She earned a B.A. in Anthropology, Philosophy & Religion from Cornell College in 2007. After working as a developmental counselor with disabled children and young adults for a few years, she returned to school and graduated with a B.A.S. in Interdisciplinary Chemistry & Biology from The Evergreen State College in 2013. She was admitted to NCSU in the Spring of 2014 as a Ph.D candidate, studying Analytical Chemistry. She joined the Sombers research group in the Summer 2014. She enjoys vintage video games, reading, rugby and especially traveling.


Schloop, Allison

Ph.D. Student, Department of Biological Sciences, Genetics Program

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Allison is interested in the genetic basis of speciation. She is currently working on hybrid crosses between Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila simulans with the goal of identifying genes involved with hybrid viability and sterility. This can give insight into how two species become distinct from each other.

Andreas_SchmidtSchmidt, Andreas C.

Ph.D. Student, Department of Chemistry

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Andreas’s research is focused on optimizing the detection capabilities of electroanalytical techniques, such as fast-scan cyclic voltammetry, to enable the detection of opioid peptides in living tissue in real-time. Unfortunately, these neuropeptides exist in very low concentrations and fluctuate on a rapid time basis. In order to adapt the existing technology we have incorporated innovative new materials into our microelectrode design as well as redesigned the applied electrochemical waveform in order to get the most selective and reproducible results.

Megan SerrSerr, Megan E.

Ph.D. Student (IGERT Fellow), Department of Biological Sciences

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Megan is a Zoology doctoral student focused on the reproductive behaviors of prairie voles and mice. She is interested in examining the role of female mate choice as well as how lab species interact and mate with wild species.

Sierras, Angela J.

Ph.D. Student, Department of Entomology

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Samantha-SmithSmith, Samantha

Ph.D student in Leslie Sombers lab, Department of Chemistry

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Samantha Smith a part of the in the Somber’s Lab in the Department of Chemistry. Her research meets at the interface of Electrochemistry and Neurobiology.   She studies the relationship between behavior and the transients of both glucose and dopamine in vivo using a novel biosensor.


 

Magdalena_Sorger

Sorger, D. Magdalena

Ph.D. Student, Department of Biological Sciences

Email   |   Personal website

Magdalena’s research focuses on the phylogeography, population genetics, and behavior of trap-jaw ants in the genus Odontomachus. More generally, she is interested in broad-scale geographic patterns in functionally relevant and conspicuous ant traits, be they physiological (thermal tolerance), morphological (trap-jaws, spines, color), or behavioral (jumping, drumming).

Megan_ThoemmesThoemmes, Megan Stroup

Ph. D. Student, Department of Biological Sciences

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Megan studies the ecology and evolutionary history of humans and other mammals, as told through their microbe and arthropod associates.

SophiaWebster, Sophia

Doctoral Student

Her research interest is development of gene drive systems in the mosquito Aedes aegypti, the main vector of dengue.

 


Leslie-WilsonWilson, Leslie

Ph.D student in Leslie Sombers lab, Department of Chemistry

Leslie’s research interests include advancing quantitative electroanalytical methods to study neurological oxidative stress.


Withrow, James M

Ph.D. Student, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Entomology Program

I am broadly interested in the evolution of sociality, particularly in relation to reproductive castes. My research is focused on individual, subfamilial, and colony level forces of selection operating on the reproductive quality and behaviors of honey bee queens.


Desiree_UnseltUnselt, Desiree M. B.

Ph.D. Student, Department of Biological Sciences, Genetics Program

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Desiree’s research is focused on understanding the genetic mechanisms affecting variation in lifespan in Drosophila melanogaster.


Vogel, Andrea R.

Ph.D. Student, Department of Biological Sciences

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Andrea is interested in the genetics and behavior modifications in seminal fluid proteins and female mate choice.


Zilnik, Gabriel

Ph.D. Student