See Opportunities below for information on joining the lab.

We currently are encouraging applications for two funded postdoc positions:

Current members

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Emma Goldberg

I joined the UMN EEB faculty in January 2014. I was a grad student with Russ Lande at UC San Diego, then a postdoc with Bill Fagan at Univ Maryland, and then a postdoc with Boris Igić at Univ Illinois Chicago. [CV]

For fun: ice skating and other new sports

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Rosana Zenil-Ferguson

Rosana joined the lab as a postdoc at the beginning of 2018. She started off in statistics and then moved over to evolutionary biology, as a grad student at Univ Florida and then a postdoc at Univ Idaho. She is working on phylogenetic models of plant genome size evolution.

For fun: lovely desserts

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Alex Harkness

Alex joined EEB as a grad student in fall 2015, co-advised with Yaniv Brandvain. He was previously an undergrad and herbarium intern at the University of Washington. He is interested in anything to do with mating system evolution, and his current projects include modeling transitions from selfing to outcrossing and the origin of new self-incompatibility alleles.

For fun: sci-fi, bizarre organism stories

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Jordan Koch

Jordan joined us in fall 2017, working as a researcher and programmer. She has math and economics degrees from Univ Kansas, and biology research experience there and subsequently at AMNH and the John Innes Centre. She is working on our trait management database and methods for inferring state-dependent diversification in RevBayes.

For fun: pi(e) and combinatoric madness

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Anna Nagel

Anna is a biology major at UMN with mathematical inclinations. She joined the lab in 2016 for independent research and an honors thesis. Her project is developing a model of environment-dependent reinforcement, inspired by spadefoot toads.

For fun: circus!

Past members

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Tanjona Ramiadantsoa

Tanjona joined the lab as a postdoc in fall 2014. He did his PhD work at Univ Helsinki, working on models for ecological, macroevolutionary, biogeographic, and conservation questions. His work here included an elegant and ambitious model of insect physiology, inspired by inquiry in range limit determinants.

For fun: founder of EEB soccer

After UMN: postdoc at UW Madison

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Heath Blackmon

Heath joined the lab as a postdoc in summer 2015, for a collaborative project with Itay Mayrose on chromosome number evolution. He got his PhD at UT Arlington, using comparative methods to study genome evolution, especially of sex chromosomes, especially in beetles.

For fun: more beetles, more coffee

After UMN: faculty at Texas A&M

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Will Freyman

Will joined the lab as a postdoc at the beginning of 2018. His biology graduate studies at UC Berkeley were preceded by other artistic and technical careers. He works on computational phylogenetics with a very strong Bayesian slant.

For fun: of course a neural net should be written in RevBayes

After UMN: researcher at 23andMe

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Josh Justison

Josh was a biology major and computer science minor at UMN and joined us in 2016. He worked with Heath on phylogenetic models of chromosome evolution and then progressed to an independent project about the influence of non-sister gene flow on node ages. He is now a graduate student in evolutionary biology at Iowa State.

For fun: adventurous baking

After UMN: grad school at Iowa State

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Mansi Bezbaruah

Mansi is a math major at UMN, with an interest in biology and computer science. She worked with us on manipulating tree data structures and simulating stochastic processes on them.

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Tim Ohlert

Tim studied environmental science, plant biology, and forest ecosystem management at UMN, and he joined the lab in 2015. He worked on an island biogeography UROP project in the theme of Baker’s law, investigating how breeding system and island distance shape species compositions on islands. He is now a graduate student in ecology at Univ New Mexico.

For fun: great northern outdoors

After UMN: grad student at Univ New Mexico

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Sai Sunkam

Sai was a computer science and math major at UMN. He joined us in 2015, developing a flexible Django web application to manage data on species traits and the literature from which it is derived. He is now a CS graduate student at USC.

After UMN: grad school at USC


Opportunities are available for students and postdocs to join the lab. Choices of projects are quite open: inquiries are encouraged from anyone with related research interests in quantitative aspects of macroevolution, biogeography, coevolution, or plant evolutionary biology.

I expect everyone in the lab group to be resourceful and work to develop their own interests and approaches. In return, I will be accessible for discussions of everything from broad ideas to technical details. Lab members are also encouraged to take advantage of expertise in nearby research groups. See especially our Theory Under Construction group, and the departments of Ecology, Evolution & Behavior and Plant and Microbial Biology. I will facilitate joint lab meetings and co-advising as appropriate.

Postdoctoral researchers

Inquiries are welcome from prospective postdocs to pursue projects of their own design. Some prior modeling and computing experience is helpful, but I am also happy to talk with people who have more empirical backgrounds and would like to explore related questions through theory. If you are interested, please send me an email introducing yourself and outlining the research areas you would like to pursue with the lab. We can then discuss specific projects and potential funding sources.

Graduate students

Prospective graduate students should have some research experience and quantitative inclinations, but the exact nature of those is flexible—I am happy to consider students who majored in biology, math, computer science, engineering, or other fields. (I started in physics myself.) I expect theses to have a substantial theory component, but I am open to discussing opportunities for complementary empirical work, such as gathering data to test a novel analysis technique or parameterize a model.

I can take students through the EEB grad program and the PMB grad program. Applications are due in early December. If you would like to apply to either department and perhaps work with me, please send me an email introducing yourself and outlining your interests so that I can look for your application.

Undergraduate students

I am always happy to hear from undergraduate students—majoring in biology, math, computer science, or other fields—who would like to conduct research in the lab. On your part, this requires curiosity, diligence, and an interest in thinking about biological questions in quantitative terms. I can help you identify a tractable question and learn the techniques you need to answer it.

If this interests you, please read about directed research in CBS and the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. Then send me an email introducing yourself and briefly describing what you might like to gain from the experience. We can meet to discuss possible projects and take it from there.