Avon, NC


Alex Dornburg

My research program takes an integrative approach to explore the factors that underlie the origin and maintenance of vertebrate biodiversity, with an emphasis on the study of ray-finned fishes (Actinopterygiians). Actinopterygiians comprise over half of all living vertebrate species—a better understanding of their history will shed light onto long standing questions in evolutionary biology that have relevance to both conservation and human health such as: how do lineages persist and recover from rapid environmental change? How do we extract relevant information from genome-scale datasets to efficiently link genotypes to phenotypes? What are the mechanisms and functional consequences of vertebrate immune gene evolution? To address these types of questions, I often cross traditional research boundaries, enabling the integration of perspectives from the fields of biodiversity science, molecular phylogenomics, functional and computational genomics, and human health. This integrative approach to research not provides a historical foundation for forecasting the response of species facing global changes while illuminating general features of vertebrate evolution, but also is critical for developing a comparative perspective of the molecular pathways vertebrates have taken to distinguish normal cells from pathogens.

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Gabriela Hogue

My interests are in the diversity and distribution of North and South American fishes, both fresh and salt water species, and discovering fish diversity by the use of both morphological and molecular techniques. I am also interested in the relationship between fishes and the larval stages of freshwater mussels. I have spent my recent past absorbed in moving the Museum’s fish collection from the ledger to the web, as well as the physical curation of over 110,000 lots.

Lindsay Roupe

Laura Lukas

I am a 2014 graduate of UNC-Wilmington with my B.S. in Biology. I find virtually all aspects of biology fascinating and in my spare time I enjoy volunteering and educating others on how to reduce our impact on the environment. During my undergraduate education, my research experiences culminated in my development of a method to test the effects of Pyriproxyfen on the molt cycle of the common crayfish. Since beginning my work in the fishes unit, I have focused on developing an understanding of biological data collection, archival and utility. I have also become very interested in how molecular and physiological processes drive evolution, and I plan to continue my education and research by pursuing my Ph.D. within the field of evolutionary biology.


Willa Brooks

I graduated from Emory University in 2014 with a bachelors in Environmental Science and a minor in math. My primary interest lies in marine conservation and I have worked in several areas of marine science education and outreach, fisheries management policy analysis, and field and lab based marine research. Working with the fishes unit I am developing a foundation in phylogenetic and biogeographic analyses as we investigate a complex pattern of cryptic species diversity in Caribbean blennies. Understanding patterns of species diversity forms the critical foundation for much of organismal biology, and I look forward to utilizing the skills and knowledge I gain in the ichthyology unit to develop new perspectives on contemporary issues in marine conservation.