Ricardo Betancur-R. - Principal Investigator
Assistant Professor 
University of Puerto Rico - Río Piedras
P.O. Box 23360  (deliver in JGD-118)
San Juan, PR 00931-3360
Tel: 787-764-0000 - Office ext. 88171; Lab ext. 88170
Research associate
National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution
Alt. e-mail: ricardo.betancur(at)


Dahiana Arcila - Postdoc

Dahiana's website:

Yadira Ortiz-Ruiz - Research laboratory technician

My M.Sc. research focuses on the genetic characterization of feral goats and pigs from Mona Island. This research is part of a CREST-CATEC funded project under the supervision of Dr. Stephan M Funk and Dr. Riccardo PapaMy duties as a laboratory technician are to generate for researchers and students involved in a variety of projects. I have experience with a number of traditional molecular techniques, including DNA and RNA extractions, PCR and primer design, gel electrophoresis, cloning, sequencing and microsatellite generation. During my time at the Sequencing and Genotyping Facility of UPR-RP, I worked with Sanger (ABI-3130) and Next Generation (Roche 454 and Illumina MiSeq) sequencing technologies. This work ranged from equipment maintenance to library preparation. I have experience with many other equipments that are required for novel genomic approaches, including Covaris (sample fragmentation), BluePippin (automated DNA fragment size selection), Qubit (sample quantitation), BioAnalyzer (sample quality assessment), GloMax (fluorescence readings), among others.

Carmen Pedraza - Ph.D. student

I obtained B.Sc. (Biology) and M.Sc. (Ecology and Conservation) degrees from Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo (Mexico). I have studied the conservation of freshwater fishes of Central Mexico and the genetic connectivity/fragmentation of several cryptic reef fishes in the Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP). I am broadly interested in continuing my research on the phylogeny and phylogeography of two related genera of blennies (Malacoctenus and Labrisomus) that occur in the TEP and the Caribbean, in order to elucidate the processes that have driven their diversity in both regions. At UPR-RP, I will pursue my PhD under the supervision of Dr. Ricardo Betancur and will participate in various projects on marine fish evolution.

Emanuell Ribeiro - Ph.D. student

I am broadly interested in understanding the patterns and processes of diversification in marine and freshwater fishes by integrating molecular phylogenetics, morphology and ecology. Some of my previous projects focused on utilizing molecular phylogenies to examine biogeographic patterns and community assemblage process of neotropical rheophilic fishes. Additionally, I applied DNA Barcoding to elucidate molecular species limits on the highly diverse Amazon fish fauna. At the Fish Phylogeny Lab, I intend to investigate the evolutionary mechanisms that drove parallel radiations in marine percomorph clades using phylogenetic comparative approaches.

Emanuell's website: 


Aintzane Santaquiteria - Ph.D. student (starting August)

I obtained the B.Sc. degree in Biology and Marine Biology at the University of Navarra (Spain) and the M.Sc. degree in Biology at UiT, The Arctic University of Norway. One of my previous projects consisted in sequencing, for the first time, the complete mitochondrial genome of the Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus, the oldest living vertebrate), and investigating its phylogenetic placement. I am broadly interested in conducting phylogenetic and phylogeographic analyses of Caribbean fishes, with special emphasis on conservation. My interest in fish evolution and conservation, brought me to do my PhD at UPR-RP where I will participate in different projects related to the natural history of fishes.

Rafael Rivero - M.Sc. student

I received my B.Sc. in Zoology (Minors in Geology and Spanish) from the Colorado State University’s honors program in 2013. During my tenure there, I worked on a geologic study involving the stratigraphy, sedimentology, and age of a Morrison Formation outcrop and helped with the upkeep of a chorus frog lab focused on behavior. In my last year, I completed a documentary about Evolution and Creationism for my senior honor’s thesis entitled Of Water and Thin Air. Afterwards, I worked with Puerto Rico’s Department of Natural and Environmental Resources’ Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Project, where I aided in conservation efforts as well as studies relating to the parrots’ bioacoustics and their landscape ecology along the northern karsts. At the University of Puerto Rico – Recinto de Rio Piedras, I have worked on the population genetics of invasive species (the 
Green Iguana, Iguana iguana) and recently joined Dr. Ricardo Betancur’s lab to pursue my broad evolutionary interests to analyze and resolve bushes in the Tree of Life by integrating paleontological and neontological data in a phylogenetic framework. When not doing phylogenetics, I can be found trudging through the forest pointing out interesting animals, editing and/or directing film and video, and podcasting.

                                                                                          LAB VISITORS

Liam Revell - Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts Boston (spring 2015, spring 2016)

Liam's Lab website: