Graduate Students


Ph. D. candidate, Graduate Group in Population Biology, University of California, Davis(2011-present)

B. A., Biology, Cornell University (2011)

Research Interests: I am broadly interested in using phylogenetic and functional morphological approaches to understand the patterns and processes shaping the remarkable diversity of fishes. My current focus is on the Syngnathiformes (e.g. seahorses and pipefish), a group of fishes with unusual and novel modes of locomotion, reproduction, and feeding. Recent work in other labs has indicated that seahorses and pipefish feed using an elastic recoil mechanism. As part of my dissertation, I plan to investigate this feeding mechanism in more detail and to characterize its phylogenetic distribution in order to understand the evolution of this functional innovation and how it has shaped the evolutionary history of the Syngnathiformes. I am also interested in studying the interplay between functional innovation and functional constraint and how both affect morphological and lineage diversification rates. A well-resolved phylogeny is essential for asking macroevolutionary questions about syngnathiform evolution, and therefore an important component of my research is the construction of phylogenetic trees using cutting-edge methods.

Recent publications:

Longo, S.J., M.D. McGee, C.E. Oufiero, T.B. Waltzek, P.C. Wainwright. 2015. Body ram, not suction, is the primary axis of suction feeding diversity in spiny-rayed fishes. Journal of Experimental Biology. (doi: 10.1242/jeb.129015)

Wainwright, P.C., M.D. McGee, S.J. Longo, L.P. Hernandez. 2015 Origins, innovations, and diversification of suction feeding in vertebrates. Integrative and Comparative Biology. 1–12.

Longo S., M. Riccio, A.R. McCune. 2013. Homology of lungs and gasbladders: insights from arterial vasculature. Journal of Morphology. 274:687-703.

For more information about Sarah’s research, visit her website or contact her at



Ph. D. student, Graduate Group in Ecology, University of California, Davis (2014-present)

B.A., Integrative Biology and Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley (2012)

In broad terms, I am interested in studying ecomorphology, adaptive radiations and convergent evolution by integrating molecular phylogenies, morphological data and fossil information; this approach can provide key insights into evolutionary processes and potentially deterministic aspects of phenotypic evolution. Currently, I am interested in examining how predation risk, habitat type, and prey choice have affected the morphology and evolutionary history of Cancridae crabs and how claw dimorphism relates to the breadth of a crab species’ diet.

For more information about Lauren’s research, contact her at



Ph. D. student, Graduate Group in Ecology, University of California, Davis (2015-present)

B.S., Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington (2014)

Research Interests: I am broadly interested in the underlying ecological mechanisms that shape the macroevolution of marine fishes. My previous research has focused on morphological convergence and constraint in planktivorous fish. More recently, my work combines aspects from biomechanics, functional morphology, phylogenetics, and comparative methods to lend insight into the selective pressures driving morphological diversification.

Recent Publications:

Friedman, S.T., Price, S.A., Hoey, A.S., and Wainwright, P.C. (2016). Ecomorphological convergence in planktivorous surgeonfishes. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. doi: 10.1111/jeb.12837.

Price, S.A., Friedman, S.T., and Wainwright, P.C. (2015). How predation shaped fish: the impact of fin spines on body form evolution across teleosts. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences. 282:20151428.

For more information about Sarah’s research, visit her website or contact her at



Ph.D. student, Graduate Group in Population Biology, University of California, Davis (2016-present)

B.S., Biology, Cornell University (2016)

A.A., Bard College at Simon’s Rock (2013)

Research Interests: I’m interested in using phylogenetics and biomechanics to explore fish performance and diversity, with particular focus on the relationship between evolution of functional traits and lineage diversification. I’m also interested in the role of functional integration and modularity in driving and constraining evolution of morphology.

Recent publications:

Corn KA, Farina SC, Brash J, Summers AP. 2016 Modelling tooth–prey interactions in sharks: the importance of dynamic testing. R. Soc. open sci. 3: 160141.

For more information about Katherine’s research, visit her website or contact her at


Postdoctoral Researchers


Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis (November 2008-present)

Postdoctoral Fellow, National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, USA (2005-2008)

Ph.D., University of Virginia (Sept 2005)

B.A., Oxford University, UK (June 2001)

Research interests: I seek to understand the fundamental processes driving large-scale macroevolutionary and macroecological patterns by utilising phylogenetic comparative methods. My previous research focused on mammalian evolution, in particular cetacean size and life history evolution as well as an ongoing collaborative project set on the evolution of mammalian dietary strategies. I also dabble in phylogenetics, in particular methods for combining previously published trees into new phylogenies (supertrees). In the Wainwright lab I am applying my skills to understanding the evolution of the labrid radiation from a morphological perspective and occasionally building molecular phylogenies.

Several recent publications:

Price SA, Gittleman JL. 2007. Hunting to extinction: biology and regional economy influence extinction risk and the impact of hunting in artiodactyls. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 274:1845-1851.

Bininda-Emonds ORP, Cardillo M, Jones KE, MacPhee RDE, Beck RMD, Grenyer R, Price SA, Vos RA, Gittleman JL, Purvis A. 2007. The delayed rise of present-day mammals. Nature 446:507-512.

Ezenwa VO, Price SA, Altizer S, Vitone ND, Cook KC. 2006. Host traits and species richness in even and odd-toed hoofed mammals, Artiodactyla and Perissodactyla. Oikos 115:526-536.

Price SA, Bininda-Emonds ORP, Gittleman AL. 2005. A complete phylogeny of the whales, dolphins and even-toed hoofed mammals (Cetartiodactyla). Biological Reviews 80:445-473.

For more information about Sam’s research, visit her website or contact her at



Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Evolution and Ecology, University of
California, Davis (2014-present)

Ph.D., James Cook University, Australia (Nov 2014)

M.App.Sc. James Cook University, Australia (Dec 2008)

B.Sc., University of Miami (Dec 2005)

Research interests: I am broadly interested in the chronology and biogeography of species diversification, and mechanisms that maintain species boundaries. My previous research has focused on the evolution of coral reef fish species, in particular the timing of extant species diversification in relation to biogeographical patterns, the identification of biogeographical barriers important in separating sister-species, and mapping geographical areas of overlap among sister-species. I am now applying my skills to understand the evolution and role of phenotypic traits in coral reef fishes.

Several recent publications:

Hodge, J.R. & Bellwood, D., 2014. On the relationship between age and geographical range in reef fishes: are widespread species older than they seem? Global Ecology and Biogeography. in press.

Hodge, J.R., van Herwerden, L., Bellwood, D., 2014. Temporal evolution of coral reef fishes: global patterns and disparity in isolated locations. Journal of Biogeography 41(11): 2115–2127. doi: 10.1111/jbi.12356.

Hodge, J.R., Read, C.I., Bellwood, D., van Herwerden, L., 2013. Evolution of sympatric species: A case study of the coral reef fish genus Pomacanthus (Pomacanthidae). Journal of Biogeography 40(9): 1676–1687. doi: 10.1111/jbi.12124.

Hodge, J.R., Read, C.I., van Herwerden, L., Bellwood, D., 2012. The role of peripheral endemism in species diversification: Evidence from the coral reef fish genus Anampses (Family: Labridae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 62(2): 653–663. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2011.11.007.

For more information about Jen’s research, visit her website or contact her at .



Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis (2016-present)

Postdoctoral Fellow, American Museum of Natural History, New York (2014-2016)

Ph.D., Stony Brook University, New York (Dec 2014)

B.A., University of California, Santa Barbara (June 2006)

Research Interests: My research concerns the diversity of fish forms and its implication for lifestyle variation. I am interested in understanding evolutionary processes involved in morphological diversification and the extent to which shape impacts function and performance. To this end, I have worked with a number of systems, from sexual dimorphism in skate pectoral fins to covariation of body and jaw shapes in cichlids. At UC Davis, I am using geometric morphometrics to study cranial kinesis in cichlid fishes as a novel way to understand their trophic evolution and niche segmentation.

Several recent publications:

Martinez CM, Rohlf FJ & Frisk MG. 2016. Re-evaluation of the morphological diversity of batoid pectoral fins: consequences for locomotion and lifestyle. Journal of Morphology. 277(4), 482-493.

Martinez CM, Rohlf FJ & Frisk MG. 2016. Sexual dimorphism in sister species of Leucoraja skate and its relationship to reproductive strategy and life history. Evolution & Development. 18(2), 105-115.

O’Leary SJ, Martinez CM, Bauman H, Abercrombie D, Conover DO, Poulakis GR, Murray CH, Feldheim KA & Chapman DD. 2016. Population genetics and geometric morphometrics of Key silversides, Menidia conchorum, a marine fish in a highly fragmented inland habitat. Bulletin of Marine Science. 92(1), 33-50.

Martinez CM, Arroyave J & Sparks JS. 2015. A new species of Ptychochromis from southeastern Madagascar (Teleostei: Cichlidae). Zootaxa. 4044, 79-92.

Technical Support Staff


Lab Assistant, Department of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis (2016-present)

B.S. Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee Knoxville (Dec 2010)

M.S. Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee Knoxville (May 2014)

Research Interests: Lake Malawi cichlids have been studied extensively in an effort to elucidate the mechanisms underlying their adaptive radiation. Their diversification is proposed to have happened via processes such as habitat partitioning, trophic specialization, and sexual selection. However, in the rock-dwelling mbuna of Lake Malawi this divergence likely involves how and where species feed on algae within the rocky reefs they exclusively inhabit.
To better understand the mechanistic factors underlying evolution in Malawi cichlid fishes, I research the influence of micro-habitat partitioning and diversity of mbuna feeding kinematics during algae sequestration.

Rupp, MF, & Hulsey, CD, 2014, Influence of substrate orientation on feeding kinematics of algae grazing Lake Malawi cichlid fishes. Journal of Experimental Biology. 217, 3057-3066

Hulsey, CD, Roberts, RJ, Loh, YHE, Rupp, MF, & Streelman, JT. (2013). Lake Malawi cichlid evolution along a benthic/limnetic axis. Ecology and Evolution. 3, 2262-2272.

For more information about Maxwell’s research, visit his website or contact him at