Current Lab Members

Rian Bylsma : PhD student

Rian Bylsma

PhD student

Rian is a PhD student who is working on Western Massasauga rattlesnakes for the first chapter of his dissertation.  He has sequenced the genome of both desert and prairie species, and is developing markers to test species limits and introgression in light of a petition for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

Ashlyn Heniff : Undergraduate researcher

Ashlyn Heniff

Undergraduate researcher

Ashlyn is a Biology undergraduate who is headed to Vet School.  She is currently working on a project using DNA to identify prey items in the stomachs of river otters.

Samarth Mathur : PhD student

Samarth Mathur

PhD student

Samarth is a Biology PhD student studying genetic erosion in Montezuma quail.  He sequenced, assembled, and annotated the genome, then developed suites of neutral and nonneutral markers to assess variation in populations of conservation concern.

Janna Willoughby : Postdoc

Janna Willoughby


Janna finished her PhD in the lab while working on issues related to captive breeding and conservation; she subsequently transitioned to a postdoc position with Dr. Mark Christie working on rapid evolution.  She returned to the lab in 2019 for a brief stint as a postdoc working on the genomic diversity of White Sands Pupfish before beginning her new position as an Assistant Professor at Auburn University.

Janna's GitHub page is:

See also:

Anna Brüniche-Olsen : Research Scientist

Anna Brüniche-Olsen

Research Scientist

Research interests
My research uses DNA techniques to understand the evolutionary history of species. Using molecular genomic approaches I investigate relationships among individuals and populations. I have inferred demographic histories of species to investigate impacts of environmental change, disease, and population boundaries. This information provides valuable aid for conservation and management.

MSc in Biology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 2009.
PhD in Biology, University of Tasmania, Australia, 2015.

Project Description
Using genomic data I am assessing conservation genomics of gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus). Gray whales are divided into two subpopulations, Eastern and Western gray whales—the later being critically endangered (IUCN). I am using DNA sequences to assess genetic diversity, relatedness, and gene flow between the subpopulations. The aim is to understand how environmental change (e.g., climate change and commercial whaling) has affected the demographic history of the species.

Google Scholar - Anna Brüniche-Olsen