Carmen Pedraza - Ph.D. student (Betancur)

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 OU, 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 (Betancur)

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 (Betancur) 

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 OU where I will participate in different projects related to the natural history of fishes.


Emily Troyer - Ph.D. student (Arcila)

I received a B.Sc. in Zoology from the Ohio State University and a M.Sc. in Marine Science from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, in Saudi Arabia. I am interested in fish evolutionary ecology, diversity, and taxonomy. I love small fishes, and past projects have focused on the ecology and biodiversity of cryptobenthic species such as gobies and blennies. My research has even led to the discovery of a new species of goby, Cerogobius petrophilus. At OU, under the supervision of Dr. Arcila, I intend to focus on projects that will unravel the mystery of goby evolution. 

Emily's website:


Fernando Meléndez-Vazquez - Ph.D. student (Arcila)

I earned a B.Sc. (Biology) and M.Sc. (Biological Oceanography) degrees from The University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. My background includes projects focusing on areas such as ecological experimental design, statistical modeling, and data analysis of fish community compositions. My current interests reside in topics like phylogenetic and genomics analyses of pelagiarian fishes, including an exploration of the evolutionary origins of endothermy. At the Fish Evolution Lab I will pursue my scientific goals by working with an excellent team of evolutionary ichthyologists.


Sarah Ward - Ph.D. student (Arcila)

I obtained a B.Sc. in Zoo and Wildlife Biology from Bob Jones University and a M.Sc. in Biological Sciences from Southeastern Louisiana University. I am interested in the evolutionary relationships of morphologically diverse and/or bioluminescent fishes. My master’s work focused on phylogenetics and species delimitation within a genus of freshwater livebearers. For my Ph.D. I intend to work on the evolutionary relationships of deep sea Lophiiformes (i.e. anglerfishes).  

Sarah’s website:




Melissa Rincon, PhD (Betancur)

I obtained my M.Sc. from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and my Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (Bogota, Colombia). My dissertation focused on studying contemporary geographic distribution patterns of neotropical freshwater fishes using target capture methods in combination with complete mitochondrial genomes obtained for five species (>150 individuals) collected from eight major river basins in Northwestern South America and Lower Central America. With this work, we identified four major phylogeographic patterns, interpreted as shared responses to the complex uplifting and orogenic processes that modified or sundered watersheds, allowing co-diversification and speciation over geological time. I am interested in population genomics, comparative phylogeography, phylogenomics, and evolution of fishes. At the Fish Evolution Lab, my postdoctoral research has focused on the phylogenomics and evolutionary convergence of body shape in snappers and fusiliers along the benthic-pelagic axis. I am also involved on a project aimed at investigating the evolutionary mechanisms that have driven adaptive radiations in marine-derived freshwater fishes using whole-genome sequencing and phylogenetic comparative approaches.




Sara Cartwright - Collection Manager of Ichthyology SNOMNH (Arcila)

I obtained a B.Sc. degree in Zoology and a M.A. degree in Museum Studies from the University of Oklahoma. I grew up in rural Oklahoma where I developed a love for ecology. Later, as an undergraduate student, I found I loved working with specimen collections. In 2004, I became the first full-time Collection Manager for the Department of Ichthyology at the Sam Noble Museum. My main objective as the Ichthyology Collection Manager has been to ensure the integrity of the collection’s data and make it available to the broader scientific community. My interests include museum studies, museum outreach, and best practices for fluid collections.



Will Hanson-Regan (Arcila)
I am a 4th-year student working towards my B.Sc. in Biology at the University of Oklahoma. I have worked as a research technician studying a Texas Horned Lizard population at Oklahoma's Tinker Air Force Base, and I also assisted in developing the Fishes of Oklahoma app. I am broadly interested in ecology, conservation, and education.


Rafael Rivero - M.Sc. at UPR-RP (Betancur); currently at U. Michigan (PhD 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

Aline Medeiros, PhD candidate - Universidade Federal da Paraiba, Brazil (2019-2020)

I obtained B.Sc. (Biology) and M.Sc. (Zoology) degrees from Universidade Federal da Paraiba, Brazil. I'm interested in understanding how different types of diversity (species, functional and phylogenetic) are shaped along ecological gradients, including euryhaline and reef environments. More recently, I've been working with alpha and beta phylogenetic diversity along a depth continuum in reef fish communities; I've been also working on a project on how depth could influence genome size in different fish groups. At the Fish Evolution Lab, I have learned how to estimate trees and use phylogenetic comparative methods to address questions in fish community ecology.

Liam Revell - Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts Boston (2015, 2016; UPR-RP)

Liam's Lab website: