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. Andy is the recipient of a Simons Foundation Early Career Investigator in Marine Microbial Ecology and Evolution (2015) and an NSF CAREER award. [Google Scholar Profile] [Twitter] [GitHub] [FigShare]

Image of Elizabeth Ruck

Elizabeth Ruck

Lab manager

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. Teo has been investigating diversification dynamics and whole-genome duplication across diatoms. He's currently leading the project on local adaptation of Skeletonema marinoi across the Baltic Sea salinity gradient. You can learn more about Teo here. [Google Scholar Profile]

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Wade Roberts

Postdoctoral researcher

Wade joined the lab in summer 2018. He earned a PhD from Washington State University, where he studyied phylogenomics and floral development in the genus Achimenes (magic flowers) with Eric Roalson. Wade is studying phylogenomics of the diatom order Thalassiosirales, a model diatom lineage that exhibits substantial genome size variation and spans the marine–freshwater salinity gradient. [Google Scholar Profile]
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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. She's studying the evolution of gene expression in marine and freshwater diatoms in the genus Cyclotella.

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Cory Gargas

Graduate student

Cory joined the lab in fall 2018 after receing his Master's degree from John Carroll University, where he studied the phylogenetic position of the diatom genus Orthoseira. You can learn more about Cory on his website.
Image of Anastasiia Onyshchenko

Anastasiia Onyshchenko

Graduate student

Anastasiia is a Fulbright Scholar from Ukraine. She is analyzing the genome of a non-photosynthetic diatom, including trying to better understand the number of losses of photosynthesis across diatoms.

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Alanah Claybaugh

Undergraduate student

Alanah is an Honors student who joined the lab in 2017 as a freshman. She's working on diatom–bacteria interactions.
Image of Kathryn Judy

Kathryn Judy

Undergraduate student

Kathryn is an undergraduate Honors student with interests in genomics and bioinformatics.
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.

Katjana Wiederkehr

Undergraduate student

Lab Alumni

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.

Wilson Guillory

Undergraduate student
. Wilson graduated with Honors in May 2017 and moved to Carbondale, Illinois, to work on a Master's degree in EEB. Wilson's project on mitochondrial genome evolution in diatoms was published in Genome Biology and Evolution.

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.

Jacob Harris

Undergraduate student. Jake graduated with Honors in May 2017 and moved to New York City to get a Master's degree in biotechnology at NYU.

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.

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.

Samantha Linard

Undergraduate student. Samantha graduated Summa Cum Laude in May 2016 and went on to medical school at the University of Missouri. Samantha's project describing the plastid genome of the diatom, Toxarium undulatum, was published in Current Genetics.

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.

Rachel Ungar

Undergraduate student. Rachel studied long-term associations between bacteria and diatoms. She graduated in May 2018 and entered Stanford University's PhD program in Genetics in August 2018.