Dr. David W. Weisrock

(dweis2 “at” uky.edu)


Researchgate, GoogleScholar

I’m a lucky guy. I’ve been able to convince some great people to come work in the lab. The people listed on this page are the real drivers of the research in our lab. I just do my best to stir up some money, provide some mentorship when needed, and stay out of the way. It’s probably a bit more detailed than that, but it’s how I think about it. If you’re interested in learning more about the lab, send me an email, or email one of the folks below. If you want to know a little bit more about me, here’s my CV.


Justin Kratovil (PhD Candidate)

justin.kratovil “at” uky.edu

Before UK: Hartwick College (B.S.), Smith College (M.S.)

After UK: Postdoc with Jennifer White in Entomology at UK.

Justin’s research focuses on the genetic interactions that occur between speciating lineages and the evolution of reproductive compatibility. Using a combination of amplicon and ddRAD sequencing, and experimental mating trials, Justin is testing hypotheses of species boundaries and gene flow among Desmognathus salamander populations in the Appalachians and isolated mountains in the Piedmont of North Carolina. Justin was awarded an NSF DDIG grant in 2014 to study the nuclear correlates of biased mitochondrial DNA introgression

Josh Williams

UK M.S. Fall 2009 - Spring 2012

Before UK: Eastern Kentucky University (B.S.)

After UK: Genomics Core Facility at the New York State Department of Health

Josh’s Masters research focused on the use of multi-locus phylogenetic tools to reconstruct relationships among ambystomatid salamander species. Using nuclear sequence markers developed from transcriptome sequence resources, and a range of phylogenetic analyses that account for gene tree discordance, Josh developed the most robust phylogeny to date for this group.

Ben Tuttle

(Summer 2009)

B.S., Centre College, 2010

Pete Wallenhorst

(Fall 2009 - Spring 2011)

Pete worked in the lab from Fall 2009 through Spring 2011.  He is currently in medical school here at UK.

Graduate Students
Undergraduate Students
Former Undergraduate Students

Alex Noble

(Fall 2008 - Spring 2010)

Alex is the other “first” member of the Weisrock Lab and is now in dental school here at the University of Kentucky.

Stephanie Mitchell

(Fall 2008 - Spring 2010)

Stephanie was one of the first members of the lab and is now a student in the dental school at the University of Louisville.

Sarah Seger

(Fall 2010)

Sarah worked with the lab during the Fall semester of 2010. She is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Pharmacy here at UK.

Ana Mendia

(Fall 2010)

Ana was a member of the lab during Fall 2010 and assisted in a number of projects, including a multi-locus phylogenetic study of the Ambystomatidae.

Scott Hotaling, PhD

srho224 “at” g.uky.edu

Before UK: North Carolina State University (B.S.)

After UK: Postdoc with Joanna Kelley at Washington State University

Researchgate, GoogleScholar

Scott is interested in the evolutionary and ecological processes operating in alpine environments. Using invertebrate study systems (stoneflies and caddisflies) and RAD sequencing he is investigating the interplay between isolation and gene flow in the formation of population structure. This work has a particular focus on how populations maintain or lose connectivity in response to changes in glacial mass. More recently, Scott’s work has extended to similar questions in alpine microbial diversity.

Former Lab Members

Dr. Mehmet Zülfü Yildiz

Assistant Professor

Department of Biology

Harran University — Sanliurfa, Turkey

yildizzulfu “at” yahoo.com

Mehmet was an official visitor in the lab from January to September 2012. He’s an ace herpetologist in Turkey and honed his molecular skills here at UK by applying them to the study of molecular phylogenetics and phylogeography of Turkish amphibians and reptiles.

Former Graduate Students

Schyler Nunziata, PhD

schyler.nunziata “at” uky.edu

Before UK: Towson State University (B.S.), Eastern Kentucky University (M.S.), Savannah River Ecology Laboratory

After UK: Postdoc with Megan Fritz at the University of Maryland

Researchgate, GoogleScholar

Schyler’s interests are in changing population demographics over very recent time scales, and how these changes can be detected using genome-scale data sets. Schyler is using salamander species and multi-year genetic sampling to test for these shifts in a coalescent framework. In addition to this empirical work, she is building new models to account for the greater complexity that exists in the demographics of amphibian species. Schyler was awarded an NSF DDIG in 2016 to extend her work to a metapopulation level.

Website: https://sites.google.com/site/schylernunziata/

Rachel Cannon

(Fall 2011 - Spring 2012)

Ricky Grewelle

(Spring 2013 - Summer 2016)

Ricky is now pursuing his PhD in Biology at Stanford University.

Tolu Odukoya

(Spring 2013 - Spring 2014)

Tolu is currently in medical school at UK.

Former Postdocs

Dr. Eric M. O’Neill

UK: Fall 2008 - Summer 2013

Before UK: Utah State University (PhD)

Eric was an integral component of the Weisrock Lab for nearly five years. He served as a co-PI on an NSF grant to study species delimitation and phylogeny of tiger salamanders and was key to developing our parallel tagged amplicon sequencing methods. Eric was an Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (started in Fall 2013) and has since taken a position in the DNA Identity division at LabCorp in North Carolina.

Dr. Yukie Kajita

Before UK: Utah State University (PhD)

Yukie’s postdoc research began at UK in John Obrycki’s lab in Entomology where she studied the ecology of invasive lady beetles. She complemented this work with population genetic studies in our lab and was awarded an NSF SEES Fellowship that integrated the ecology and evolution of these systems with studies of their economic impact.

Jose Bocanegra

(Fall 2011 - Spring 2014)

This guy.

Kara Jones (PhD candidate, UK A&S Royster fellow)

karajones “at” uky.edu

Before UK: George Mason University (B.S., M.S.)

Kara is interested in the processes that drive the evolution of species occupying sympatric habitats, or the evolution of polymorphic traits with a species. It may seem a bit confusing, but that’s Desmognathus salamanders. Kara is currently studying the population genetics and phylogenetics of Desmognathus fokertsi, D. marmoratus, and D. quadramaculatus, a trio of taxa that may, or may not be independent lineages.

Deborah Lu

(Spring 2013 - Present)

Deborah is currently in medical school at UK.

Postdocs & Technicians

Mary Foley (PhD student)

UK: Fall 2018-current

Mary was an outstanding undergraduate researcher in the lab, and co-authored a mouse lemur paper with us. We were lucky to have her to continued support as a technician in the lab. Mary moved on to do PhD work in microbial ecology at Rutgers University.

Mason Murphy

UK M.S. Fall 2013 - Spring 2016

Co-advised with Steve Price (UK Forestry)

Before UK: University of Notre Dame (B.S.)

Researchgate, GoogleScholar

Mason’s Masters research investigated population structure of the mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus) across Kentucky river drainages. Mason is probably the first person to successfully generate population genomic data from an 85 Gb organism. These data have been important in identifying a complex interplay of isolation and gene flow across and within Kentucky river basins. Mason is currently a PhD student at Miami University in Ohio.

Mackenzie Humphrey

(Fall 2015 - present)

Mackenzie has been a participant in a number of research projects, providing valuable input into our parallel tagged amplicon work in tiger salamanders, and Bayes Factor analyses of mouse lemur species hypotheses.

Kelly Sovacool

(Spring 2016 - Spring 2018)

Kelly currently works on Bayesian analyses of SNP data to test hypotheses of lineage divergence in Desmognathus fuscus. In her free time, she contracts out her genome-assembly skills to other labs on campus.

Paul Hime, PhD

NSF Predoctoral Fellow, Blue Waters Graduate Fellow

paul.hime “at” uky.edu

Before UK: Washington University in St. Louis (B.S.), St. Louis Zoo

After UK: Postdoc at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute

Paul’s research covers a broad spectrum of evolutionary divergence, from the early stages of speciation in hellbender salamanders, to divergence among the extant orders of amphibia. Within these frameworks, he delves into questions about how phylogenetic information varies across the genome, how molecular evolutionary processes vary across the genome, and how they may differ among clades with varying diversification rates. Paul was awarded an NSF DDIG in 2016 to study the phylogenetic evolution of nuclear genes associated with the mitochondrion, relative to those with other functions.

Mariah Donohue (PhD student)

mariah.donohue “at” uky.edu

UK: Fall 2017-current

Before UK: Stony Brook University (B.S., M.S.)

Mariah is our resident lemur expert, with aims to study their population genetics and microbiomes, with an ultimate goal of contributing to their conservation. 

Derek Filipek (PhD student)

derek.filipek “at” uky.edu

UK: Fall 2017-current

Before UK: Central Arkansas University (B.S., M.S.)

Derek has a passion for snakes and for the study of their evolutionary and demographic history.

Angela Jones

(Spring 2017 - present)

Angela has quickly become a molecular ace at the bench and has been helping with putting the finishing touches on a tiger salamander PTAS study. Much computational analysis awaits her!

Mary Gibbs

(Fall 2016 - Fall 2017)

Mary spent her time in the lab participating in a study of salamander reproductive isolation among species and populations of Desmognathus salamanders.

Nikki Lawrence - Lab Technician

Nikki was an undergraduate researcher in the lab (see Hime et al. 2016!) and then graciously stuck around for another year after her graduation to keep the lab running smoothly. Nikki entered the genetic counseling graduate program at Baypath University in Fall 2017.

Katie Everson (UK Research Fellow)

Email: coming soon!

Before UK: University of Alaska - Fairbanks (Ph.D)

Tenrecs! Madagascar!

Tom Maigret (PhD candidate)

thomas.maigret “at” uky.edu

UK: Fall 2014-current

Before UK:

Levi Grey

Email: coming soon!

Before UK: University of New Mexico (Ph.D)

Anoles! Mexico!

Ben Browning

(Spring 2017 - present)