Lab members

Principal Investigators

Dahiana arcila

Assistant Curator of Ichthyology & Assistant Professor of Biology, Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History & Department of Biology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, 73072.

Email: dahiana.arcila "at" ou.edu

ricardo betancur-r.

Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of Oklahoma, 730 Van Vleet Oval, Richards Hall, rooms 115-116, Norman, OK 73019. Tel: 1-405-325-0916

Email: ricardo.betancur "at" ou.edu

Graduate Students

Carmen Pedraza – Ph.D. cand. (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. Cand. (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. Cand. (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. cand. (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 biology and genomics. I love small fishes, and past projects have focused on the ecology and biodiversity of cryptobenthic species such as gobies and blennies. My current research at OU is incorporating fossil evidence to investigate the effect of past paleoclimatic changes on the evolution of body size in tetraodontiform fishes, a morphologically diverse clade.

Emily's website

Fernando Meléndez-V –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

Postdoctoral Researchers

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). 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.


Elizabeth miller, phd (ARCILA & BETANCUR)

Starting date: June 2021

PAMELA HART, phd (ARCILA)

Starting date: August 2021

Fish Collection - Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History

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.

Undergraduate Students

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.

Zach W. Heiple (ARCILA)

I am currently in my fourth year of undergrad at the University of Oklahoma. I am pursing a B.Sc. in biochemistry and will graduate in fall of 2021. I am currently looking at bioluminescence in lophiiformes and I am interested in the mechanism/regulation of biochemical pathways, specifically bioluminescence and venom production, that has evolved in fishes.

Lab Visitors

Aline Medeiros, PhD candidate

Universidade Federal da Paraiba, Brazil (2019-2020)

Lab Alumni

Rafael Rivero - M.Sc. at UPR-RP (Betancur)

Currently at U. Michigan (PhD student)