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

To date, 35 Ph.D. trainees from 7 different departments at UNM (Anthropology, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mathematics and Statistics and Physics and Astronomy) have been enrolled in PiBBs. These 35 fellows produced >130 publications in journals with an average impact factor of 6.6 (6 times the average in science), and given >225 scholarly presentations. Nine trainees have completed their PhDs and of those, eight are in academic positions, and one is in industry. All but one of the remaining 26 trainees are continuing their PhDs and remain active in PiBBs activities.

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Meghan Balk, '13

The study of how processes in the past shape and can inform us about the future. Meghan investigates how animals responded to past climatic change in order to answer pressing ecological questions regarding climatic change. Importantly, she is interested in questions about species' limitations and modes of adaptation.

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Eva Dettweiler-Robinson, '13

Eva plans to study how variation in resources such as water and nutrients, competition with other plants, and soil microbial interactions affect medicinal secondary plant compounds. This project combines theories of gradients between mutualism and competition with allocation theory in plants to find conditions that favor production of medically useful chemicals. She hopes to find abiotic and plant and microbe community conditions that favor medicinal chemical production, compare this to traditional healers' knowledge of growing and harvesting plants, and perhaps predict conditions where novel pharmaceuticals or active gene families could be found.

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Devon Hjelm, '13

Currently Devon is focusing on the application of deep belief networks as an analytic tool for neuroimaging datasets such as fMRI.  Through this he hopes to build a purely data-driven description of the relationships between anatomical brain regions that reflect their function in task-related contexts. He hopes this will allow him to show the strength of deep networks for complex data sets, such as those found commonly in biological and biomedical sciences.

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Kasra Manavi, '13

Computer methods to better understand molecular aggregation related to severe allergic responses in humans. The approach his team has been developing uses ideas from multi-robot motion planning and graphanalysis to efficiently generate Monte Carlo trajectories of molecular aggregation.

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Amanda Minnich, '13

Working towards a new "operating system" for biomolecular computers based on biology and primitive operations such as learning and generalization, which she hypothesize are innate in even very simple nucleic acid systems. This challenging scientific problem has potentially profound consequences on medical technology: a simple biocompatible system that can compute would change the way we diagnose diseases and allow smart drug delivery.

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Sara Niedbalski, '13

I am interested in processes of genomic evolution, in particular using techniques from population genetics as a tool for understanding demography, natural selection, and phenotypic differences in populations. I hope to use both empirical and theoretical approaches to understand how historical processes determined the distributions and abundances of genes both in the past and today.

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Satomi Sugaya, '13

Satomi is studying the theoretical framework of interacting random walks and its application to biological systems. One problem she is looking at is the dynamics of cellular objects diffusing and interacting with each other within a cellular membrane. The other study is the dynamics of epidemic disease spreading within animal population, such as Hantavirus in mice population.

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John Grady, '12

Uncovering two features associated with brain size and functioning: 1) Life history tradeoffs in mammals and birds associated with the evolution of large brain size, and 2) Thereoretical modeling of the metabolic scaling of brain cells and structures.

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Louis C. Alvarado, '11

Drawing on evolutionary and life history theory to study human reproductive biology, with a specific focus on male steroid physiology and the incidence of androgen-sensitive cancer.

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Mohammad Arbabshirani, '11

Automatic diagnosis of brain disorders based on neuroimaging data.

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Tatiana Flanagan, '11

How social insects use information to improve their fitness by using experimental and theoretical approaches. In particular, she is studying how ants use information about their environment to improve foraging efficiency.

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Ara Kooser, '11

Secondary metabolites in cave bacteria communities: a bioinformatics approach.

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Melisa Pardi, '11

Using the late Quaternary paleontological record to study mammal community responses to environmental perturbations through time.

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Munik Shrestha, '11

Statistical physics: epidemics and processes in network and its applications.

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Jessica Weber, '11

Investigating the molecular basis for high-elevation adaptation in wild Andean animals.

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Natalie Wright, '11

Understanding how ecology and life history shape morphological evolution and flight in birds.

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Robbie Burger, '10

Integrative approaches to understand large-scale patterns and emergent behaviors in biological and social systems.

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Jennifer Cabotage, '10

The evolution of behavior and life history in humans and non-human primates.

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Eduardo Castro, '09

Characterization of schizophrenia using classification and feature selection procedures.

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Christian Gunning, '09

Historical and spatiotemporal dynamics of measles and influenza in the United States.

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Sarah Joyce, '09

The historical and evolutionary processes that have shaped the pattern of genetic variation in extant populations of modern Homo sapiens.

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Drew Levin, '09

Using spatially explicit agent-based modeling to examine search processes of the human immune system.

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Catherine Mitchell, '09

Investigating the impact of life history traits on species longevity in mammals during a period of environmental change.

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Kathrin Spendier, '09

Dynamics and organization of cell surface receptors: experimental and theoretical studies.

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Glenn Stark, '09

Temporal and spatial modeling, especially of disease; biological and environmental statistics.

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Shawn Whiteman, '09

The paleoecology and biogeography of American mammals.

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Lai Xu, '07

The application of magnetic resonanance imaging to identify anatomic differences in the brain leading to disease, as well as basic characterizations of the brain's structural 'network.'

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George Bezerra, '07

Modeling of communication patterns and energy consumption in multi-core computer architectures. How different communication patterns affect the energy consumption of the system and how energy scales as the number of cores increase.

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Helen Davis, '07

The substantive role of health and ecology on juvenile development; the effects of infection on learning and growth among children within a foraging society located in lowland Bolivia; distribution of parasite infection and parasite-human (host) relations.

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Erik Erhardt, '06

Application and development of statistical methods for biology, ecology and public health. Using Bayesian models for stable isotope sourcing and a variety of other stable isotope collaboration.

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Paul Hooper, '06

The role of cooperation and competition in human social networks, with an aim towards explaining differences in social and political organization across societies; development of theoretical models of human social behavior as well as empirical analysis of data from fieldwork with indigenous people.

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Ziya Kalay, '06

Analyzing single-molecule diffusion data of membrane proteins and lipids in the cellular plasma membrane, to understand the hierarchal organization of the plasma membrane, spanning the nano-meso-micron scales.

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Jordan Okie, '06

Metabolic scaling, surface area, organelles and the major evolutionary transitions of life; role of body size, temperature and stoichiometry in governing the structure and dynamics of ecological communities, metabolism of ecosystems and geographic distribution of biodiversity; assembly and diversity of microbial genes, taxa and traits along extreme temperature gradients of Yellowstone hot spring ecosystems.

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Sushmita Roy, '06

Developing new algorithms and machine learning techniques for the interpretation of complete genomes, the understanding of gene regulation and the elucidation of evolutionary mechanisms and embryo development.

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Wenyun Zuo, '06

Mathematical models of growth and life history. Analyzing environmental factors affecting species distribution and modeling to predict potential distributions of species under climate change.