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 recently 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. Rayna recently accepted a Curatorship at the Smithsonian Institution!


Dr. Ammon Corl


Ammon's research has dealt with four broad areas aimed at better understanding evolutionary diversification. He has investigated 1) the factors leading to the evolution of new species, 2) the effects of sexual selection on phenotypic and genetic diversity, 3) the maintenance and loss of polymorphism, and 4) the genetic basis of polymorphic mating phenotypes. His main study system has been the side-blotched lizard (Uta stansburiana), a species that is polymorphic for three different male mating strategies characterized by distinct throat colors and mating behaviors. The mating strategies are maintained by an evolutionary analogue of the rock-paper-scissors game wherein orange males take territory from blue males because they are more aggressive, yellow males beat orange males by sneaking onto their large territories, and blue males beat yellow males by closely guarding their mates. Ammon is currently investigating the genetic basis of these different mating types using next-generation sequencing methods. The goal of this project is to better understand how distinct mating types evolve within a species and how color signals are linked to behavioral differences. More more information, please visit his website by clicking on his name or photo. Photo: Ammon in the field in the Namib Desert



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 also developed a protocol allowing next generation sequencing from formalin-fixed specimens which is soon to appear in PLoSONE.




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's research is focused on the diversification of Australiasian diplodactyloid geckos. He is conducting fine-scale analyses of the Oedura marmorata complex of northern Australia as well as species-level genetic and morphological diversification analyses of the entire ~230 species diplodactyloid clade. Both studies involve NGS sequencing of Ultra-Conserved Elements (UCEs).

Photo: Skip + Australian Boiga irregularis = love..




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.



Jeff Frederick



Jeff's research interests include wildlife ecology, animal behavior, bio- and phylogeography, theoretical biology, and vertebrate life histories. Often, his research crosses taxonomic divisions. Recent projects explored: bat locomotion and diversity, seabird migration and geolocation, amphibian occupancy, mountain goat behavioral ecology, quantitative spatial analytics, climate model downscaling, and the use of indicator species to determine shifts in ecosystem structure and function as a result of climate change. For his doctoral research, Jeff is investigating the ecological mechanisms driving lineage diversification within an adaptive radiation of Limnonectes (fanged frogs) in Indonesia. His project blends 'classic' ecological sampling techniques with next-gen / genomic approaches to elucidate the fundamental underpinnings of anuran evolution across niche axes.



Sabbatical Visitors

Dr. Don Miles



Visiting Researcher

Cynthia Wang


Cynthia undertook her Master's thesis research with Frank Glaw in Germany investigating adaptive diversification of dentition in Malagasy pseudoxyrhophiine lamprophiid snakes using micro-CT scans. Between her Master's and planned PhD studies, she opted to join my lab as a volunteer. When she turned out to be 'the natural' with molecular lab work - especially for NGS applications, she transitioned into the role of 'short-term technician' in my lab. She is now working on exome-capture experiments for Lamprolepis skinks and Cyrtodactylus bent-toed geckos.



Undergraduate and Postgraduate Researchers

Bryan Bach


Bryan is working on a follow-up to our Lamprolepis mitochondrial phylogeography study using 5 anonymous nuclear loci. In the photo (taken on one of our Herpetology course field trips), he is holding a Sceloporus occidentalis that was out enjoying the beautiful California weather. Who says fence lizards don't like 40 mph winds and torrential rain?


Kristen Charles


Kristen has been working with Dan Portik on a phylogeographic study of an enigmatic group of west African hyperoliid reed frogs in the genus Afrixalus. She gave an oral presentation of her work at the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists in Reno this past summer and is gearing up for graduate school. In the photo, she has a boss Dicamptodon that had evidently taken refuge in an empty Corona bottle (soon to be submitted to Herp Review as a Natural History Note).



Vemmy Metsutnan

Ashling Quigley



Former Sabbatical Visitors

Dr. Xiaoting Huang (Associate Professor, Ocean University of China) - Xiaoting spent a year in the lab spearheading a Draco exome-capture experiment. How successful was she? Let's just say that she will always have a spot in the McGuire Lab Hall of Fame!


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 Zawacki (now an Associate Professor and head of the Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology at the University of Pittsburgh)



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 Assistant Curator in the Department of Herpetology and Assistant Professor in the Richard Gilder Graduate School, American Museum of Natural History)


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




Dr. Jonathan J. Fong (PhD student - now a an Assistant Professor at Lingnan University in Hong Kong)



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 Associate 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. Ian Wang at UC Berkeley)



Former Undergraduate Student Researchers

Kuntal Chowdhary (now in medical school)

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)



Dr. Rebecca Chong (Currently a postdoc in the Nancy Moran Lab at UT Austin)



Nick 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 a 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.