Students affiliated with the BRTC are an integral part of our future.Graduate students conduct their own research as well as assist with general museum tasks. Undergraduate students (interns and volunteers from the University) also contribute to various research projects and collection maintenance.

Adrian Castellanos, PhD student

Adrian is a recent graduate from Texas A&M University and has substantial experience working in museum collections (Texas A&M’s Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections and theHouston Museum of Natural Science).  Adrian is interested in the phylogeography of neotropical mammals.

Jennifer Cary, PhD student

Phylogenetic analysis and song differentiation between the hybridizing Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) and Black-crested Titmouse (Baeolophrus atricristatus) in south-central Texas.

Tufted Titmice (Baeolophus bicolor) and the Black-crested Titmice (Baeolophus atricristatus) are two species of songbirds that are inter-breeding in central Texas.  At one time they were considered one species so for my research I am investigating the hybridization occurring between these two species.  For my project I am asking two main questions:  1) What is the extent of hybridization, and 2) what song elements differ between the species and what elements are used by hybrids.  I will be using computer programs to analyze the songs and a combination of microsatellites and mitochondrial data to determine the extent of hybridization.

Katrina Keith,  PhD Student

I am interested in the systematic, biogeographic, and phylogenetic patterns of avian evolutionary history. For my dissertation research I am investigating populations of birds of conservation concern in the Chihuahuan Desert Ecoregion and will focus on population genetics to gain a greater understand of the genetic “health” of these populations. I will be assessing the functional genetic diversity in toll-like receptor (TLR) genes, as well as investigating host-parasite relationships and the patterns and prevalence of infection as it relates to TLR genes responsible for immune system recognition of these parasites.

Kole Kubicek, PhD Student

Developmental osteology of Red drum (sciaenops ocellatus) and spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus

I am currently studying skeletal development in members of the family Sciaenidae, particularly red drum and spotted seatrout. In Texas, both fish are economically important and commonly produced and stocked into the wild to help sustain wild populations. Knowing how the skeleton develops will allow for a better understanding of the early stages  of development in these fish as well as potentially helping to determine causes of bone deformities during production.


Whitney Preisser, PhD student

Whitney is a 5th year PhD student broadly interested in parasite ecology. For her dissertation, Whitney is examining latitudinal patterns of parasite diversity using parasite communities of cricetid rodents.  She has collected in Costa Rica, Mexico, Texas, Nebraska, and Canada, performing intensive dissections for parasite collection and preparing both rodent and parasite specimens for accession into the BRTC.


BRTC Recent Alumni


Nick Bertrand, M.Sc. Heterodonty in the Ray-finned fishes (Actinopterygii): taxonomic distribution and evolution.




Aleyda Galán, M.Sc. 2016







Johanna Harvey, PhD 2018, currently Post-doc Researcher at University of Connecticut





Jerry Huntley, PhD 2017, currently Post-doc Researcher at The American Museum of Natural History





Dae-Min Kim, M.Sc.





Caitlin Nessner, M.Sc. 2016





Jamie Rodriguez, M. Sc.

Chris Shalk, PhD – Mechanisms of Anuran Community Assembly in the Bolivian Gran Chaco





Nicole Smolensky, PhD – Phylogeny, Population Ecology and Conservation of Osteolaemus tetraspis in Cameroon





Oona Takano, M.Sc. 2016 –  Diversity and Phylogenetics of parasitic chewing lice from southern African birds


Eric Tsakiris, PhD Student


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