Chris Nice, Principal Investigator


I am generally interested in evolutionary genetics and ecology. I am particularly interested in using genomics tools to investigate hybridization, differentiation and speciation. In addition, I have interests in the evolution of morphological and life history traits in a variety of organisms, but mostly butterflies. My lab also uses genomics tools for conservation genetics projects. These conservation projects are mostly focused on Texas Hill Country endemic species that are threatened or endangered. For more, click here.


Kate Bell, Ph.D StudentDSC02236

Kate is broadly interested in the evolution and maintenance of reproductive isolation. She works on a range of taxonomic species from butterflies through to fish. She is also interested in climate modeling and the use of long term data sets. For more information please visit her website here.


UnknownLauren Lucas, Ph.D Student

Lauren uses genomics tools to understand gene flow patterns and estimate levels of   genetic diversity of endangered freshwater taxa, ultimately to help conservation managers make decisions about these taxa. She also studies the genetics and evolution of morphological traits, such as Lycaeides butterfly wing patterns. Lauren also enjoys developing and implementing authentic research experiences for the students in her biology classes.



Amara Garza, M.S. Student

Amara is interested in ecological speciation. Currently she is focusing on the geometric differences of clutches in two Asterocampa species. Specifically she is interested in discovering the adaptive and ecological implications these shapes have on the caterpillars and the species as a whole.



Sarah Bialik, M. S. Student

Borneo! 417Sarah’s research uses population genomic tools to explore the underlying processes of
genetic differentiation and speciation. Her Master’s work aims to distinguish historical from recent gene flow in a species complex of butterflies, Euphilotes pallescens (Family: Lycaenidae), found in the Great Basin of western North America. Exploring the intricate evolutionary history of E. pallescens will lead to an increased understanding of speciation processes at the genomic level. In addition, she is working on conservation genomics projects involving endangered species endemic to the Edwards Plateau region of central Texas.


Previous Students

Ruben Tovar, M.S. Student

60388_646527995804_5536195_nRuben is broadly interested in the study of herpetology, and his question of interest resides largely in the fairly new integrative discipline of evolutionary developmental biology. He is interested in the evolution of genes conserved across taxa and the molecular mechanisms underlying deviations during embryogenesis.  He is specifically interested in the genes that regulate development, and are responsible for the variation of ocular morphologies seen among the central Texas Eurycea clade. For more information please visit his website here. Ruben is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Tulsa.