Dr. Jessica Oswald
I study how diversity and species distributions change across temporal and spatial scales due to climate change and human impacts. I am largely focused on the causes of extinction in birds and the phylogenetic relationships among lost and living species. I use fossils, genomic data, and ecological data in my research. My primary focus is on birds, but I am also working on projects focused on hutias and land snails.
Dr. Stanislav Kolencik
My research is focused on ectoparasites. In 2012, I started to work on ticks and the genetic variability of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (agent of Lyme disease) in Slovakia. Then, during my PhD study in Czech Republic, I was working on taxonomy, phylogeny and ecology of ectoparasites of wild birds, mainly feather lice, where I described 12 new species. Moreover, I have been also actively participating in various research projects abroad, such as in Honduras, Slovakia, Spain, USA and Greece. Currently, my main goal is to improve our knowledge on the biodiversity and understanding of coevolutionary patterns between birds and their parasites. While birds are among the most well studied taxonomic groups, many of their ectoparasites still remain undiscovered. Thus, I am focusing on ectoparasites (mainly feather lice) from wild birds collected in the Neotropics (Colombia, Peru), which is known for its high biodiversity. Beside sorting the material and mentoring the students, I study morphological and genetic differences in parasitic lice (microscopy, CT scan data and molecular data).
Dr. Robert Eugene del Carlo
Formerly a biophysicist and pharmacologist studying evolutionary biology at the molecular level, I have come to bioinformatics seeking powerful tools to ask big questions in evolutionary science, biodiversity, and public participation in scientific research. My research program with the Allen lab as begun with a systematic review of avian ectoparasite literature to uncover the most understudied, yet extremely biodiverse, regions of the world. Moreover, my research is expanding to explore the progress made by a community science project called Notes from Nature in collaboration with Zooniverse.
Avery Grant: I am a PhD student in the Allen lab and my interests include investigating how genomes, demographics, and physiology of plants and animals are being impacted due to climate change. Currently, I am focusing on identifying genetic signatures of selection that have driven the repeated adaptive radiation of various ecomorphs of avian feather lice (Philopteridae) using bioinformatic methods. In my free time I enjoy hanging out with my cats -Artemis and Zazu- and dancing.
Chandra Sarkar: I was trained as a wet lab biotechnologist in my undergrad. But my interests in combining biology with coding led me to Bioinformatics research in graduate school. My Masters thesis in computational biology focused on examining variable GC regions in protein coding genes of plant pathogens. Currently I am exploring the diversity of endosymbionts in chewing lice using a 16s DNA metabarcoding approach. I am also working to develop a workflow for DNA quality control of Ultraconserved Elements (UCEs) from museum samples. Outside academia, I love photography and traveling.
Former/Forever Lab Members
Leanne Diss: Leanne is a masters student in the Allen lab, where she focuses on identifying the abiotic and biotic variables that predict ectoparasite (tick/Ixodida) presence/abundance on birds across elevational gradients in Colombia. Once identified, these variables are used to create species distribution maps using Geographic Information System (GIS) software, to illustrate potential tick distributions given intensification of such variables. She is also interested in identifying phylogenetic relationships of tick taxa, as well as identifying diseases carried by ticks using Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) methods. When not in the lab, Leanne can be found spending time with her cat “Tuolumne”, mountain biking, climbing, or running ultra-marathons in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Dr. Kelly Klingler: My work in the Allen lab focuses on using next-generation sequencing technology and bioinformatic tools to examine cophylogenetic and population genomic patterns between avian hosts (Mionectes) and their obligate, parasitic chewing lice (Myrsidea). As a Neotropical host-parasite system based along an elevational gradient in Peru, I am interested in assessing the role of several ecological factors (i.e. host specificity, dispersal, biogeography) in driving microevolutionary (population) as well as macroevolutionary (phylogenetic) processes. In addition to studying coevolutionary dynamics, my research interests focus on conservation genetics/genomics, disease ecology/eco-immunology, and noninvasive wildlife monitoring.
PI – Julie Allen
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