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PhD students


Katie Martin

Katie received a B.S. in biology from Fairfield University, where she worked extensively with sea turtles, and an M.A. in evolutionary biology from Stony Brook University. While at SBU, she studied the evolutionary patterns of antimicrobial peptides in bats as related to the incidence of white-nose syndrome. During her Ph.D., Katie plans to use genomics and transcriptomics to investigate the evolution of sea turtle immune systems and disease resistance. She is broadly interested in disease ecology and conservation.

Twitter: @KaptainRose
Personal research website





Matt Atkinson


Matt received his M.S. in Biology at Western Carolina University and a B.S. in Wildlife Management at the University of Georgia. While at WCU, his thesis focused on the effects of the protist parasite Dermomycoides sp., on the Dusky Gopher Frog (Rana sevosa) and the Southern Leopard Frog (Rana sphenocephala). His primary research interests include amphibian disease, with a particular focus on the protist parasite Dermomycoides sp., immunogenetics, reptile and amphibian conservation biology, and ecotoxicology. Matt is a member of Southeastern Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (SEPARC), Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles (SSAR), and has been heavily involved in the student chapters of the Wildlife Society for both UGA and WCU. After completing his Ph.D., he plans on pursuing a postdoctoral fellowship, and ultimately hopes to join the faculty at a large research university.


Kevin P. Mulder


Kevin’s web page

Kevin received his BSc from University College Utrecht and subsequently did a joint Masters degree between Uppsala University and the LMU in Munich as part of the Erasmus Mundus programme in evolutionary biology (MEME). He is currently a PhD candidate supervised by both Guillermo Velo-Antón (CIBIO) and Anna Savage (UCF). He is broadly interested in applying high throughput sequencing methods to amphibians and reptiles in order to study their evolutionary history and help inform conservation efforts. His thesis is focused on looking at genomic signatures of adaptation in two different amphibian study systems: the evolution of viviparity in clades of Salamandra and host resistance to Batrachochytrium in leopard frogs.



Nicholas Christodoulides

Email: nizc0035@knights.ucf.edu

Nick recieved his Master’s of Science degree in Entomology from Auburn University where he examined the transcriptomics of plant-feeding in herbivorous insects, and a B.S. in biology from the University of Florida. Although most of his previous work has been focused on insects, he has always wanted to study reptiles and amphibians, and hopes to be able to apply functional genomics approaches to studying herpetology. Nick plans on studying genomics and transcriptomics related to disease resistance in amphibians, and possibly their heritability. After completing his Ph.D, Nick hopes to become a faculty member at a research or teaching university.



Master’s students

Faith Morgan


Faith received her Bachelor’s of Science in Wildlife Ecology & Conservation from the University of Florida. Her research interests include ornithology, animal behavior, genetics, and wildlife conservation. Faith’s undergraduate work examined how current scrub-jay management affects habitat occupancy for the American kestrel and assessed how their habitat preferences overlap by quantifying which variables are most important for each bird to determine management practices. Also, she spent a semester studying in the Galapagos Islands assisting with various research projects in Ecuador.  Faith will be using genetics and ecology to identify optimal conservation strategies for Florida scrub-jays (Aphelocoma coerulescens) impacted by habitat loss. She plans to continue research, advocate for diversity in the natural sciences, and ultimately become a director at a zoo.

Veronica L. Urgiles
Vero received her B.Sc. in Biology at the Universidad del Azuay in Ecuador. Her undergraduate research focused on exploring the effects of elevation and habitat characteristics on the structure and composition of amphibian communities in the high Ecuadorean Andes. After graduation, she spent three years working as a researcher in the Zoology Museum of the Universidad del Azuay, mainly involved in systematics and ecology of terrestrial frogs. In 2017, she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to start her graduate studies exploring the ecological, morphological and phylogenetic factors influencing diversification processes of the Pristimantis orestes group (small cryptic frogs) in the tropical Andes.


Jacob LaFond

Jacob earned his Bachelors of Science degree from Brigham Young University-Idaho where he studied embryonic diapause in the American mink. His current Master’s thesis work focuses on population genetics of several frog species in the genus Rana to better understand the immunogenetic and evolutionary response to chytridiomycosis across species and time. Post Master’s degree, Jacob plans to continue his graduate studies on squamate evolution, and ultimately become a professor of evolution and herpetology.









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