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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.

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Maximiliano Zuluaga Forero

NBB Graduate Student

Max comes from Colombia, the most beautiful and biodiverse country on earth. There he got interested in the genetic mechanisms that lead to behavior and shape the evolution of organisms. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Biology in 2019 at Universidad Nacional de Colombia and has been training in neuroscience tools useful to study how genes determine how animals behave. Max is now working to understand how epigenetic mechanisms shape the genome expression across the different male morphs of Poecilia parae.

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Lynn Capani-Czebiniak


Undergraduates in the lab

Blythe Wong

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Phillip Zhuang

Ava Atienza

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Sri Sai Akkineni

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Grace Zhang

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Eric Li


Kristin Tsay

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Maya Jarolem

Alanna Moskowitz

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Former Undergraduates

Neel Mehta (2021-2023)

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