Phylo Lab Members

Emily Collins

Emily recently joined the Phylo Lab (Welcome Emily!); she is a third-year undergraduate student majoring in biological sciences. Emily fell in love with phylogenetics as a student in BIS 2C (which shows impeccable taste), and is combining this new love with her old passion for human health by helping Jay with a project exploring “phylodynamic” models used to study viral evolution. We are also hoping to convert her to a coffee drinker.

Traveler. Artist. Tea Enthusiast.
Fighter, dancer, writer, musician.

Edie Espejo

Edie is also new to the Phylo Lab (Welcome Edie!); she is a third-year statistics major and aspiring biostatistician, with interests in human disease and medicine. Future goals include out-predicting Nate Silver; current goals involve applying statistical theory to biological data. To that end, Edie is exploring the impact of partitioned-data model misspecification on divergence-time estimates and the empirical prevalence of diversity-dependent diversification.

Jiansi (“Jay”) Gao Jay joined the lab in 2014, and is in his second year of the PBG graduate program. Jay is generally interested in biogeographic inference and viral evolution. His project is focussed on extending “phylodynamic” models for inferring the spatial spread of viruses (to increase their realism), and implementing these new models in RevBayes. Jay is a teaching assistant in BIS 2C (Tree of Life) and is busy preparing for his qualifying exam.

Learning to love Lebowski, saving countless lives.
Foodie, master barista, general awesomeness.

Mike R. May

Mike joined the lab in 2011, and is a phenomenal fifth-year PBG grad student. Mike is generally interested in developing Bayesian phylogenetic methods, including approaches for inferring rates of lineage diversification (speciation and extinction) and methods for exploring the evolution of discrete and continuous traits. Mike is a teaching assistant in EVE 103 (Phylogeny, Speciation, Macroevolution), PBG 200C (Principles of Microevolution and Macroevolution), and is an instructor at the Bodega Applied Phylogenetic Workshop.

Andrew F. Magee

Andrew has worked in the lab since 2012 as an undergraduate researcher, which has so far resulted in a first-authored publication and receipt of the UC Davis University Medal in recognition of his exceptional research achievements and promise as a future scholar. Andrew has continued in the lab as a Junior Research (extra)Specialist, and is applying to graduate programs to pursue a degree in statistical phylogenetic methods. Andrew is generally interested in rates of lineage diversification, and is working on projects to understand the prevalence of diversity-dependent diversification and the factors (and artifacts) that contribute to this phenomenon.

Extra-specialist data and horse wrangler.
Canadian, vegetarian, dog lover, tree hugger.

Brian R. Moore I joined the Evolution and Ecology faculty at UC, Davis in 2009, and am a member of the Center for Population Biology and the Population Biology Graduate Group and Graduate Group in Biostatistics. My primary research interests focus on the development (and application) of Bayesian phylogenetic methods for various problems—including the development of models for inferring phylogeny and divergence times from multi-gene datasets—and making evolutionary inferences from phylogeny—regarding rates of lineage diversification, character evolution, and biogeographic history.


Louie joined the lab in 2010 as our social director and biological roomba. Louie is a five year old French bulldog, with general interests in walks, playtime, naps, and, of course, treats. Who’s a good boy? Louie is a very good boy!

Did somebody say “treat”?

Former Lab Members


Sharing (data) is a good quality!

Audrey Chang

Audrey spent the summer of 2104 working in the lab as a participant in the UCD Young Scholars Program, a three-month program that offers high-achieving high-school students from around the world an opportunity to participate in research in the labs of UCD faculty sponsors. Audrey worked on a project exploring the correlation between data quality and data sharing in phylogenetic studies. Based on her research experience, Audrey has decided to pursue an undergraduate degree in evolutionary biology, and was recently admitted to Stanford.

Sebastian Höhna Sebastian is a former postdoc, who is now a Miller Fellow working with John Huelsenbeck at UC Berkeley. Before joining the lab, Sebastian completed his PhD with Fredrik Ronquist (at Stockholm University), and a Masters with Alexei Drummond (at the University of Aukland). Sebastian is the lead developer of RevBayes and TESS, and has broad expertise in Bayesian inference, statistical phylogenetics, and stochastic-branching processes. Sebastian is an instructor at the Bodega Applied Phylogenetic Workshop and really, really likes kebabs.

Alpha geek. Calm. Collected. German.
Committed to saving wild and domestic critters.

Teisha King Teisha spent the summer of 2014 working in the lab as a participant in the EEGAP (Evolution and Ecology Graduate Admissions Pathways) program, a three-month program that offers undergraduate students an opportunity to participate as a summer research intern in the lab of UCD faculty sponsors. Teisha worked on a simulation study exploring the statistical behavior of phylogenetic methods for inferring shifts in the rate of continuous character evolution. Teisha is both a Meyerhoff and NIDA scholar, and is applying for to graduate programs to pursue a degree in conservation biology and/or veterinary medicine.

Bob Thomson

Bob is a former postdoc, who is now an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. Bob is a phylogenetic polymath: he has deep expertise on the organismal biology of turtles (and herps generally), phyloinformatics, phylogenomics, statistical phylogenetic methods, and conservation biology. If you were stranded on an island and needed one person to handle all of your phylogenic needs, Bob’s your man. Bob is a co-PI on the BETABase project, an instructor at the Bodega Applied Phylogenetic Workshop, and a genuinely great guy.

Bob: The phylogenetic Swiss army knife!