The Program in Interdiciplinary Biological and Biomedical Sciences at UNM is a cross-departmental, college and institutional collaboration of students and faculty interested in interdisciplinary biological research

PiBBs Fellows

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Louis Calisto Alvarado

Louis is a Ph.D. student in evolutionary anthropology, working with Drs. Jane Lancaster and Martin Muller (Committee Co-chairs). His research focuses on the expression of male steroid physiology across the life course, particularly as it relates to phenotypic outcomes and androgen-dependent cancer. He conducts fieldwork in the rural Polish village of Slopnice at the base of the Carpathian Mountains, where he uses non-invasive methods of biological specimen collection to examine interactions between steroid hormone levels, fertility status, work patterns, and senescence.

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John Grady

John is broadly interested in macroecology and macroevolution, as viewed through the lens of energetics and life histories. Current research projects concern the universal patterns in vertebrate growth rates, the paleoenergetics of dinosaurs, the evolution of large brain size in mammals and birds, and the biogeography and foraging energetics of marine predators.

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Robbie Burger

Robbie is a Ph.D. student in the Biology Department working with Dr. Jim Brown. Robbie is inspired and intrigued by the remarkable diversity of life and the rapid evolution of Homo sapiens from being just another social primate to becoming the most dominant species the earth has ever witnessed. Accordingly, he maintains broad interests in evolutionary ecology, macroecology, metabolic theory, and sustainability. Currently his work follows three major themes: 1) ultimate causes and proximate mechanisms of sociality and life history in caviomorph rodents in South America 2) brain size allometries, ecological lifestyles, and life history consequences in birds and mammals, and 3) human macroecology and applications of metabolic theory to human systems.  When not sciencing, Robbie enjoys exploring the countless natural beauties of the desert American Southwest and beyond.

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Tatiana Paz Flanagan

Tatiana is a Ph.D. student in Biology and a master's student in Computer Science working with Dr. Melanie Moses. She is interested in information flow in biological systems. Her research focuses on how ants use information to improve their foraging strategies and how colony size affects these strategies and outcomes. Through field experiments, statistical analyses and computer simulations, she characterizes the use and contribution of information to the foraging efficiency of the colonies.

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Ara Kooser

Ara is a Ph.D. student in the Chemistry Department working with Dr. Chad Melancon. His research is focused on small molecules (natural products like antibiotics) produced by bacterial communities in caves.

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Melisa Pardi

Melissa is a Ph.D. student in the Biology Department working with Dr. Felisa Smith. She draws upon her experiences within the biological and geological sciences, and uses a combination of historical and paleontological data to answer ecological questions pertaining to mammals. Her work focuses on late Quaternary mammalian responses to ecosystem disturbances on multiple spatial and temporal scales. She utilizes a combination of field work, museum specimen research, and paleoecological database analyses.

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Munik Shrestha

Munik is a Ph.D. student in the Physics Department applying techniques from statistical physics to study interesting interdisciplinary questions in biology, economics and computer science. Statistical physics is a study of behavior of a large collection of similarly prepared systems or ensemble of systems. Random walk of any simplicity for a single realization of the walk is irregular and mostly impossible to predict, but we can statistically describe the ensemble of similar random walks.

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Jessica Weber

Jessica is a Ph.D. student in the Biology Department working with Dr. Joseph Cook. Her research involves using genomic sequencing to explore the molecular basis of high-elevation adaptation in wild Andean animals.

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Natalie Wright

Natalie Wright is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Biology working with Dr. Chris Witt. She uses phylogenetics, ecology, biogeography, morphology, and physiology to understand how and why traits evolve. Her dissertation research focuses on the selection pressures affecting flight muscle size across birds, and she is also working on projects on avian life history evolution and physiological and morphological adaptations to high elevation in birds. Natalie enjoys communicating science to the public, wildlife photography, and collecting museum specimens that will be used for centuries.

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