Lab Members

Gonzalo Giribet

Gonzalo Giribet
My primary research focuses on the evolution and biogeography of invertebrate animals. In the lab we use genomic, transcriptomic, and morphological data from living and extinct animals to better understand evolution. A large body of of work focuses on arthropods and mollusks, but we also investigate many other groups of invertebrates, including velvet onychophorans, nemerteans, platyhelminths, annelids, and the so-called “minor phyla”. Current NSF-funded projects include Collaborative Research: The Opiliones of New Zealand: Revisionary synthesis and application of species delimitation for testing biogeographic hypotheses.

Nikki Hughes, Faculty Assistant

Bridget Power
Nikki is the Faculty Assistant for the Giribet lab handling all administrative duties for Professor Giribet and Giribet lab members. Nikki is the liason between the Giribet lab and the OEB Administration Department.


Juan Moles, Postdoctoral Fellow

juan_molesWinter is coming! I am an Antarctic expeditioner, diver, and snail lover interested in marine invertebrate ecology and systematics. During my PhD, I dove into the ecology, taxonomy, and systematics of sea slug and snail molluscs (Gastropoda: Heterobranchia). Although cold and isolated, Antarctic marine ecosystems are far from being badlands. Applying histology, electron microscopy, tomographic, and molecular techniques I attempt to describe some lineages of the Southern Ocean unique and diverse fauna. One of my current projects aims to provide new insights into the evolutionary patterns and historical processes that lead to the radiation and current distribution of the Antarctic fauna.

Shahan Derkarabetian, Postdoctoral Fellow

My primary interest is in the arachnid order Opiliones (more commonly called harvestmen) where I focus on the systematics and evolution of Laniatores, the most diverse harvestmen suborder. As a systematist, I have an interest in systematic methodology including phylogenetics, species delimitation, morphometrics, integrative taxonomy, and in particular molecular systematic methods. In this regard I utilize various next-generation sequencing and bioinformatic methods as tools to explore the evolution of harvestmen. In addition, all things to do with the evolution of cave taxa interests me, particularly the evolution and genetics of convergent cave-adaptive morphology.

Aaron Hartmann, Hrdy Fellow in Conservation Biology

I study marine ecology and conservation, primarily in coral reef ecosystems. I am particularly interested in how early life history strategies influence environmental tolerance, the evolution of mutualist symbiont transmission modes, how human impacts on the ocean influence coral offspring survival, and how metabolites diversify in marine communities. Through my research I try to understand how coral reefs and other coastal ecosystems will fare in the face of ongoing environmental change and generate tools to mitigate these impacts.

Tauana Cunha, Postdoctoral Fellow

Tauana Cunha
My research interests are driven by the incredible diversity and beauty of marine invertebrates - yes, the small squishy things in the oceans! My graduate work focuses on inferring phylogenetic relationships among gastropods - from fieldwork and wet lab work to bioinformatics - and on using phylogenies to understand the biogeography of the group in the marine environment and the evolution of shell shape through geological time. To do that, I combine high-throughput molecular data and morphological data from fossil and extant snail shells. I received my B.S. in Biological Sciences from the Universidade de São Paulo, in Brazil.

Bruno de Medeiros, Postdoctoral Fellow

BrunoI am interested in understanding how species originate and diversify in shallow and deep temporal scales. Most of my previous research focused on how insect-plant interactions in the tropics drive diversification, combining genomics with ecology and systematics. I am currently working on generating new genomes to resolve a few phylogenetic relationships in animals groups that have been particularly hard to elucidate with previously available datasets.

Caitlin Baker, Graduate Student

Caitlin Baker
I am interested in the evolution and diversity of soil invertebrates, particularly harvestmen (Opiliones) and velvet worms (Onychophora). These are ancient, poorly dispersing terrestrial animals that live in dark, humid habitats around the world. I use genetic and genomic tools paired with comparative morphology to study their taxonomy, systematics, and biogeographic patterns in the southern hemisphere – landmasses which once comprised the supercontinent Gondwana. Currently, I’m studying the global biogeographic patterns of the phylum Onychophora, the mite harvestman family Pettalidae (Cyphophthalmi), and the armored harvestman family Triaenonychidae (Laniatores). I am also working on a phylogeographic study of the New Zealand velvet worm Peripatoides.

Vanessa Knutson, Graduate Student

I am interested in the evolution of shell-loss in gastropods. As a part of my interest in shell loss, I am currently working on a transcriptome-based phylogeny for the gastropod clade Heterobranchia.
You can follow Vanessa on Twitter @Bugs_and_Slugs

Shoyo Sato, Graduate Student

Arachnophobes beware! Spiders can live in colonies of hundreds of individuals that prey and maintain webs together. How does this happen? Shoyo, a Cantabridgian, received his bachelor’s in biology from Boston University and is now working in collaboration with the Jordan Lab at the Max Planck Institute of Ornithology’s Department of Collective Behavior to study the phylogeny and communication of social spiders.

Elena Moncada, Undergraduate Student

elena_moncadaI am an OEB undergraduate interested in genetics and marine biology, and I am excited to be working on my senior thesis at the Giribet lab! I am focusing on a family of small surf clams that are found throughout the world called Donacidae, and my goal is to create a global phylogeny for this family. I am working with specimens from the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, as well as some I collected myself from my own travels, and from the National Museum of Natural History in Paris that I visited last spring.

Allison Law, Undergraduate Student

Cycliophorans are ectocommensals that live on the mouthparts of lobsters. There’s so much to learn about this obscure and alluring phylum! I study Symbion americanus that live in Homarus americanus, American lobsters. I’m proud to be working with host specimens caught in the majestic waters of New England and Eastern Canada. There is evidence of cryptic speciation in S. americanus, and I’m interested in their population structure. My research goal is to determine whether or not the different lineages S. americanus segregate by mouthpart in host populations where cryptic speciation has been observed.

Liz Roux, Undergraduate Student

Limulus polyphemusAdventure is out there! I am an undergraduate interested in marine biology and phylogeography. I am currently pursuing my senior thesis on the phylogeographic differentiation of Bdelloura candida, a marine triclad ectocommensal on Limulus polyphemus, the American horseshoe crab.




Leyla Ewald, Undergraduate Student

I am a First-Year at the College, passionate about marine biology and environmental science. I hope to concentrate in Integrative Biology with a secondary in Environmental Science and Public Policy. I am interested in how climate change affects the oceans, particularly how warming temperatures affect coral reefs through coral bleaching and how corals can evolve and become more resilient. I am excited to be working with Aaron Hartmann on his research comparing the genetic diversity of different coral reef populations.