Lab Members


Principal Investigator


Jim's primary research interests are in phylogenetics, biogeography, and comparative biology of reptiles, amphibians, and hummingbirds. His current research has three primary foci. The first involves application of phylogenetic and coalescent-based population genetic methods to Sulawesi and Lesser Sundas biogeography. The second is a phylogenetic study of crotaphytid lizards, with an emphasis on the roles of introgressive hybridization and incomplete lineage sorting. Finally, he is investigating the history of high-altitude adaptation in hummingbirds, which involves species-level phylogenetics, analysis of the molecular evolution of hummingbird globin genes, and respiratory physiological studies across altitudinal gradients in the Andes and North America. See Jim's Research page for details.



Postdoctoral Fellows

Dr. Rayna Bell


Rayna just completed her dissertation studies investigating the diversification dynamics of hyperoliid reed frogs, one of the most species-rich amphibian taxa of Sub-Saharan Africa. She focused on (1) the role of Pleistocene climatic refugia in driving speciation, (2) mechanisms by which Gulf of Guinea island endemics dispersed to the deep-water islands of Príncipe and São Tomé, and (3) mechanisms of cryptic diversification on the land-bridge island of Bioko. Hyperoliids exhibit remarkable variation in coloration, including female and male-biased dichromatism and ontogenetic shifts in coloration mediated by sex steroids. For her postdoctoral work, Rayna is exploring this variation in detail to elucidate hormonal control mechanisms mediating sex-specific transitions in coloration, and to identify genes underpinning color deposition.


Graduate Students

Sarah Hykin


Sarah's research focus is on parity mode evolution in reptiles. For her dissertation research, she is investigating the transition between oviparity and viviparity in Mexican bunbchgrass lizards (Sceloporus aeneus and S. bicanthalis). She is particularly interested in elucidating the genetic underpinnings of transitions in reproductive mode using Next-Gen sequence data. Sarah has also recently been developing protocols allowing next generation sequencing of formalin-fixed specimens.




Dan Portik


Dan is broadly interested in African biogeography and faunal diversification. His research incorporates phylogenetics, phylogeography, and morphology to answer evolutionary questions. Current projects include investigating molecular and morphological diversification in hyperoliid frogs, examining phylogeographic patterns in reptiles and amphibians across the Arabian Peninsula and African savannahs, and investigating ecological diversification in African monitor lizards. For more information on Dan’s research program, please visit his website (



Sean Reilly


Sean is investigating the comparative biogeography of the Lesser Sunda Islands of Indonesia using Next-Generation sequencing methods (specifically exome-capture of markers developed from transcriptome sequencing) and a combination of phylogenetic and population genetic tools. His primary focal taxa include Draco flying lizards, Lamprolepis emerald skinks, Cyrtodactylus bent-toed geckos, Sphenomorphus forest skinks, Limnonectes fanged frogs, and Fejervarya paddy frogs. In the photo, Sean is on a ferry crossing the Alas Strait between Lombok and Sumbawa Islands.



Phillip "Skip" Skipwith


Skip is focused on publishing his Master's work on the phylogenetics and biogeography of New Caledonian geckos using multilocus sequence data using painfully frustrating time-calibrated multispecies coalescent methods. He also has a little side project on Sulawesi Cyrtodactylus bent-toed geckos.




Alexander Stubbs



Alexander has many interests, including Indonesian herpetology, the physics of coloration, and visual tuning and perception. His primary lizard interests are Lygisaurus and Carlia skinks of eastern Indonesia (phylogenetics and biogeography), but he has a number of additional focal groups for which he has also collected data.

Here he is refueling the Land Cruiser (Indonesia style) after an epic trip between Toraja and Mambi on Sulawesi.

Rollover, 'Buru senapa angin' (air rifle hunter) meets 'buru tombak' (spear hunter) on our way out of Kalumpang, Sulawesi

In 2010, Stubbs learned why leeches and eyeballs are a poor match. In 2011, he discovered that Indonesia is a suboptimal place to learn to ride a dirt bike.



Undergraduate and Postgraduate Researchers

Bryan Bach

John Cavagnaro

Kristen Charles

Kuntal Chowdhary

Ashling Quigley

Amanda Radel

Lab Visitors

Ammon Corl

Xiaoting Huang

Former Postdocs

Dr. Rafe Brown (now an Associate Professor at the University of Kansas)

Dr. Bryan Stuart (now Curator of Herpetology in the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences)




Dr. Cori Richards-Zawacki (now an assistant professor at Tulane University)



Dr. Alison Davis Rabosky (now Assistant Research Scientist & Senior Herpetologist in the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology)



Former Graduate Students

Dr. Matthew C. Brandley (PhD student - Currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Sydney)



Dr. Frank T. Burbrink (PhD student - Currently a full Professor at College of Staten Island/CUNY)


Dr. Thomas J. Devitt (PhD student - currently Environmental Scientist in the City of Austin Watershed Protection Dept.)




Dr. Jonathan J. Fong (PhD student - now a postdoctoral fellow at Seoul National University)



Dr. Matthew K. Fujita (PhD student - Currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Arlington)






Dr. Shobi Lawalata (PhD student - Currently working as a program manager for a Non-Profit in Jakarta, Indonesia)





Dr. Adam Leaché (PhD student - Currently an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Biology and Curator of Genetic Resources in the Burke Museum at the University of Washington)





Dr. Guin Wogan (PhD student - Currently a postdoctoral fellow working with Dr. Rauri Bowie at UC Berkeley)



Former Undergraduate Student Researchers

Selena An (Currently finishing her Masters in Public Health and International Relations at Johns Hopkins)



Jackie Childers (now a Master's student working with Aaron Bauer and Todd Jackman at Villanova University)



Becky Chong (Currently a PhD student with Rachel Mueller at Colorado State University)



Nicholas Fletcher (Currently a PhD student in Jeremy Searle's lab at Cornell)

Julianne Goldenberg (Completed her Master's degree with Tod Reeder at SDSU; now with Thermo Fisher Scientific)


Christopher "CJ" Hayden (formerly a PhD student at LSU but current whereabouts unknown – hopefully living the good life in Indonesia)


Kory Heiken (Currently a Master's student working with Emily Taylor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo)

Ben Karin (Currently a Master's student working with Aaron Bauer and Todd Jackman at Villanova University)





Brian Lavin (Currently a Master's student working with Derek Girman at Sonoma State University)

Dr. Charles Linkem (recently completed his PhD with Rafe Brown at the University of Kansas; now an NIH postdoc with Adam Leaché at U Washington)


  Dr. Jackson is seen here examining a snake that mysteriously appeared in his carry-on luggage on a return trip from SE Asia. I believe he is consulting with Jim McGuire regarding proper identification of the specimen.