We are excited to welcome a diverse and highly accomplished incoming cohort of twelve first-year PhD students this semester!
Natalie Aguirre (Helms lab) graduated with a B.S. in biology from Pepperdine University. During this time, she completed an honor’s thesis conducting research on the interaction of drought stress and pathogen infection in a chaparral shrub species, Malosma laurina. She then spent a year as a Fulbright scholar at the Universidad Politecnica in Madrid, Spain, where she studied effect of water stress on Dutch Elm Disease. Most recently, Natalie worked for the Everglades Foundation in Miami, Florida, creating educational programs and materials about the Florida everglades.
Alyson Brokaw is a Ph.D. candidate in the Smotherman Lab with an imminent dissertation defense scheduled for December 9th. Alyson joined the Smotherman Lab at the dawn of the EEB program following completion of her M.S. in the Szewczak lab at Humboldt State University where she began her academic journey studying bat sensory ecology, olfaction, neurophysiology, and bat behavior. Read more in the December NewsfEEB.
EEB student Owen Dorsey graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2014 with a BS in Biology. After graduation, he took a couple of years off, working as a laboratory technologist at the American Red Cross, before starting his MS work at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina. For his research, he investigated inbreeding avoidance and mate choice behavior in the invasive western mosquitofish (a close relative of swordtails!) using a combination of behavioral assays and genetic analyses.
Owen joined the Rosenthal lab in 2019 and is broadly interested in studying the fitness consequences of inbreeding and the evolution of pre- and post- copulatory mechanisms to avoid inbreeding. Owen plans to investigate the “cost-benefit” to inbreeding in swordtails.
Her dissertation research focuses on the reproductive habits of a local species of polychaetes, the common clam worm. She is taking a four-pronged approach to get a comprehensive picture of what is occurring by using ecological, genetic, histological, and biomechanic tools.
In her spare time, MC is very active and enjoys playing Ultimate Frisbee and going to a Crossfit gym (when conditions are safe). Fun fact: MC is an ordained minister in the state of Texas and officiated her first wedding earlier this year!