Alverson Lab Website

Lab Personnel

Image of Andrew Alverson

Andrew Alverson

Principal Investigator

Andy received his B.S. in Biology in 1997 from Grand Valley State University in Michigan. He went on to receive a M.S. degree in Entomology and EEB from Iowa State University in 2000. He earned his Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin in 2006 studying the patterns and consequences of marine–freshwater transitions by diatoms. From there he went on to Jeff Palmer's lab at Indiana University where he worked on the evolution of mitochondrial genome size in flowering plants with funding from a NIH NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship. In 2011, he became an Assistant Professor at the University of Arkansas. [Google Scholar Profile] [Twitter] [GitHub] [FigShare]

Image of Elizabeth Ruck

Elizabeth Ruck

Research Associate

Elizabeth received her Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin in 2010. For her dissertation research, Elizabeth studied the phylogeny and systematics of the diatom order Surirellales, which gave insights into the origins of endemic species in ancient lakes. Elizabeth runs day-to-day operations in the lab and is studying the plastid genome evolution in diatoms. She's especially interested in understanding patterns of deterioration in the plastid genomes of non-photosynthetic species.


Image of Teofil Nakov

Teofil Nakov

Postdoctoral researcher

Teo joined the lab as a post-doc in September 2014. He's orignally from Macedonia, but he moved to the U.S. to to complete a PhD with Ed Theriot at The University of Texas at Austin. His work there mainly centered on using phylogenetic comparative methods to understand the evolution of different diatom traits, like growth habit and cell size. Some of his PhD work focused on questions related to the marine–freshwater divide, which is the main focus of his current work in the lab. Every lab needs an R wiz, and now we have one. You can learn more about Teo here. [Google Scholar Profile]

Image of Jennifer Beals

Jennifer Beals

Graduate student

Jennifer is a native of Pennsylvania, where she got her BS in Biology at Penn State. She then served as the Collection Manager of the diatom herbarium at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (Drexel University) for six years. She went on to complete her her MS degree with Matt Julius at St. Cloud State University, where she studied the phylogeny and systematics of eunotiod diatoms.
Image of Kala Downey

Kala Downey

Graduate student

Kala completed her undergraduate and MS degrees at Austin Peay State University, where she studied population structure in an endangered grass species. Kala began in fall 2016 and is exploring research topics related to population genetics in freshwater diatoms.

Image of Anastasiia Onyshchenko

Anastasiia Onyshchenko

Graduate student

Anastasiia is a Fulbright Scholar from Ukraine. Her background is in molecular biology, but she is working with existing large diatom genomic datasets for her project.
Image of Wilson Guillory

Wilson Guillory

Undergraduate Student

Wilson is from Eureka Springs, Arkansas. He'll be completing a B.S. in Biology with Honors. Wilson's working on mitochondrial genome evolution in diatoms. Wilson earned a spot at the Field Museum's summer REU program in 2014 and the Smithsonian's REU program in 2015.
Image of Jacob Harris

Jacob Harris

Undergraduate Student

Jake is a native of Northwest Arkansas. He started off in the lab by diligently photographing and measuring cells for some salinity experiments. He and Andy like discussing Serial.
Image of Katy Rose

Katy Rose

Undergraduate student

Katy is an undergraduate Honors student who just recently started in the lab. She's currently working with Kala and Teo on a project focused on reconstructing large-scale patterns of salinity transitions in diatoms.
Image of Rachel Ungar

Rachel Ungar

Undergraduate student

Rachel is an undergraduate Honors student. She is a Biology major and Computer Science minor, so she's finding a project that will combine bench and computer work.

Lab Alumni

Jeric Harper

Research technician.
Jeric was the lead technician on a project to increase the number and diversity of diatoms that can be genetically transformed. He finished in January 2017 and now works as a microbiologist in industry.

Yufei Li

Undergraduate student. For her Honors research, Yufei carried out a large-scale experiment on salinity tolerance across a broad diversity of diatoms. She graduated with honors in December 2016 and went to culinary school.

Annie Dickens

Undergraduate student. Annie estimated the frequency of sexual reproduction in Stephanodiscus niagarae in Lake Fayetteville by tracking changes in cell-size over time. Annie graduated with honors in May 2016 and took a gap year before heading off to medical school.

Samantha Linard

Undergraduate student. Samantha graduated Summa Cum Laude in May 2016 and went on to medical school at the University of Missouri. She analyzed the plastid genome of the diatom, Toxarium undulatum.

Kameila Nedd

Undergraduate student. Kameila documented the diatom flora of her native Grenada. She was the first, but hopefully not last, student from beautiful Grenada! Kameila graduated in May 2016.

Jonathan Mishler

Undergraduate student. Jonathan worked primarily with Joseph Herzog's lab the in Physics Department. His research used mathematical modeling to explore the photoic properties of diatom frustules. He published an article based on his thesis work. He graduated in May 2015 and moved to Bethesda, Maryland, to work at the NIH.

Kiley Jones

Undergraduate student. For her Honors thesis, Kiley used morphometrics to tease apart a striking pattern of biogeographic disjunction in the diatom, Discostella asterocostata. She graduated in May 2015 and started medical school at UAMS in August 2015.

Colton Kessenich

Graduate student. Colton used transcriptome data to help tease apart the origin of diatom life history traits. He completed his M.S. in May 2014 and moved to St. Louis to work as a bioinformatician in industry.