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2008 - 2009 Graduate Fellows


Bridget Barker
Interdisciplinary Program in Genetics

Research Expertise: Genetics and Valley Fever

Bridget's research involves using genomic analysis to understand the life history of a human pathogenic fungus, Coccidioides, the causative agent of coccidioidomycosis, more commonly known as San Joaquin valley fever. In the 7th grade, she was inspired by her biology teacher to study genetics, and is looking forward to interacting with the students of Mansfield Middle School, in the hope that she can inspire some future scientists.  When not doing research, Bridget is trying to make grad student life better as Assembly Chairperson on the UA GPSC, and her own life better by hiking and camping in the desert southwest.



Karie Decker
School of Natural Resources

Research Expertise: Wildlife Conservation

Karie's current research interests lie in looking at how habitat quality can shape the evolution of life history strategies. Specifically, she is looking at how nest predation, food availability, and individual quality influence seasonal patterns in avian clutch size. She will be working with two teachers at Cross Middle School in the Amphi district. Through BioME, she hopes to engage students' interest in the world of science, while learning how to effectively communicate science to young students as well as to the general public. Ultimately, through her master's work, she seeks to apply empirical research to conservation efforts and continue to extend what she has learned to the younger community.


Lisbeth Echevarria
Department of Veterinary Science and Microbiology

Research Expertise: Microbiology

Lisbeth's current research involves food-borne pathogens, such as Campylobacter. Lisbeth is quantifying the levels of pre-harvest bacteria of poultry systems, both at the farm and at various control points in the processing plants. This will allow the identification of appropriate intervention methods to decrease the Campylobacter load on poultry, in order to decrease campylobacteriosis in humans. She will be working with Sheila Marquez at Tucson High School this year; this will allow her to improve her teaching skills and share her passion for science with the students. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking, racquetball, basketball, soccer, softball, cooking, and photography.


Rebecca Franklin
Department of Geosciences / Laboratory of Tree Ring Research

Research Expertise: Herbchronology and Dendrochronology



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Matthew Herron
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Research Expertise: Evolutionary Theory, Phylogenetics, and Comparative Methods

Matt studies the evolution of multicellularity and cellular differentiation in green algae and hopes to use these amazing creatures to explore evolution in the classroom. He will be working with Margaret Wilch at Tucson High Magnet School. Matt can't remember a time when he wasn't interested in biology, beginning with an early obsession with dinosaurs. Outside of the lab, he enjoys photography, SCUBA diving, cooking, and taking good dogs for rides in the car.


Michelle Lanan
Interdisciplinary Program in Insect Science

Research Expertise: Plant/Insect Mutualisms

Michele studies the foraging behavior of ants, and their interactions with plants in the Sonoran desert. This year she will be working with several second grade classes at Lynn-Urquides Elementary, where she looks foward to sharing her fascination with insects and science with young students. When she isn't busy with graduate school Michele likes to hang out with her husband, cats, and chickens. She also likes to get together with her band and play various instruments including violin, viola, banjo, keyboard, and saw.


Christopher McDonald
School of Natural Resources

Research Expertise: Plant Conservation

Chris studies plant conservation. His current projects explore the effectiveness of prescribed fire and livestock grazing to manage nonnative grasses in southern Arizona. These grasses threaten to convert our native Sonoran desert plant communities into communities dominated by African grasses. During the course of his research he works with land managers, ranchers, and government and non-government agencies. He also studies pollination ecology and endangered species. He has taught courses on fire ecology, vegetation management and also seminars on conservation, and plans on teaching people about plant conservation after he graduates. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter. He also enjoys his garden, his pets, cooking, and reading.


David Morales
Interdisciplinary Program in Applied Mathematics

Research Expertise: DNA Sequence Evolution

David is a scientist interested in the applications of mathematics to different fields but focusing mostly on biology. In particular, his current research involves creating models for DNA sequence evolution undergoing a complex demography.


Adrianna Racolta
Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Research Expertise: Evolution of Receptor-like Kinases in Arabidopsis

Adrianna's current research is in the field of plant molecular biology. Particularly, she is interested in mechanisms of cell-to-cell communication and signal relay during plant embryogenesis required for normal development of plants. This year she looks forward to working with 5th grade students and their teachers at Liberty Elementary and embarking on an amazing journey of great discoveries in science. When she is not in the lab she enjoys playing tennis with her son and husband, spoiling her cat, working in her garden, and painting.

Jennifer Schaefer
Interdisciplinary Program in Physiological Sciences

Research Expertise: Neurophysiology

Jen's current research uses Drosophila (the fruit fly) to study the development of specialized brain cells called neurons. Specifically, Jen is investigating the electrical properties of neurons as they develop and change identity. Jen will be working with Rebecca Sampson at Catalina Foothills High School where she looks forward to improving her teaching skills and imparting an understanding that science is a part of all of our everyday lives. When not in the lab, Jen's interests include dogs, hiking, camping, food and coffee.

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