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
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.
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, Research Associate in Instruction and Research
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.
Caitlin Baker, Graduate Student
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
Arianna Lord, Graduate Student
I am interested in the evolutionary history and global distribution of biological diversity. What factors underlie the origin, distribution, and diversity of invertebrate groups, and how do Earth and environmental processes affect them? I use genomic and phylogenetic techniques to investigate these questions and better understand some of the most fascinating, and perhaps misunderstood, animals in the tree of life. Originally from New Zealand, I received my Bachelor of Science from Yale University with a concentration in Geobiology and Paleontology. I love natural history, science communication, and being out in the field.
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.
Leyla Ewald, Undergraduate Student
I am a Sophomore at the College, passionate about marine biology and environmental science. I am concentrating in Integrative Biology, hopefully with a secondary in Energy & Environment. 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 happy to be working with Aaron Hartmann on his research comparing the genetic diversity of coral reef populations.
Ella Frigyik, Undergraduate Student
I am a senior in the college, originally from Kenya, interested in applying phylogenetic and biogeographic methods to investigate questions related to invertebrate ecology and conservation. Currently I am working on a thesis focused on the New Zealand armored harvestmen genus Algidia. Outside of research, I am passionate about expanding access to the outdoors and to science.