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Lab Members

Photo of Ben Sandkam

Ben Sandkam, PhD

Assistant Professor

Ben is interested in the interplay between genome evolution and mating behaviors. He earned a BS in Integrative Biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2009. In 2016 he completed his PhD in Biological Sciences at Simon Fraser University, where he studied the interplay between color vision and mate preferences. Next, he studied the genomic processes that shape rapid evolution of color vision as a postdoc with Karen Carleton at the University of Maryland, and as a visiting scientist at the NIH. He went on to receive a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship to work with Judith Mank at the University of British Columbia, where he explored how genome evolution supports polymorphic reproductive strategies.

Photo of Matt Taves

Matt Taves, PhD

Research Associate

Steroid hormones are orchestrators of organismal biology, coordinating physiology, behavior, and neural action based on developmental and environmental context. Matt studies how diverse mechanisms of steroid signaling generate tissue- and cell-specific transcriptomic responses to generate adaptive phenotypes.

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Helen Stec

NBB Graduate Student

Helen is interested in brain and retinal morphological and genetic differences between the Poecilia parae sexes and morphs, and visual processing in general. In 2022, Helen earned a BS in Neuroscience from Ohio University.


Kirsten Keleher

NBB Graduate Student

Kirsten completed a B.S. in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology at North Carolina State University. She is interested in the interplay between genetics and behavior and is studying the male morphs of Poecilia parae, comparing those captured in the wild to those raised in the lab to gain a better understanding of the heritability of aggressive behaviors. Kirsten is also interested in olfaction and is studying the evolution of olfactory receptor genes in the Poeciliid family

Undergraduates in the lab

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Neel Mehta

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Phillip Zhuang

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