Trainees

Alexis Acoff

Alexis Acoff is in her first semester of the Master of Science program at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Her interests are in molecular biology and microbiology, with research focusing on the comparison of gut microbiomes between lab-reared and wild caught Schistocerca cancellata grasshoppers. When she’s not dissecting locusts, you can find her at the gym!

David Bellini

David is a Quantitative and Computational Biosciences Ph.D. student at BCM. His research interests include using the power of computational and data analysis tools to gain a better understanding of the genetic factors behind behavioral plasticity. Having earned a double major in Bioinformatics and Molecular Biology, he strives to understand both dry and wet lab research components. This well-rounded lifestyle also translates into his many hobbies which include tennis, soccer, gaming, piano playing, and participating at his local church. 

Yelyzaveta Bessonova

I go by the name Liza. Originally I am from Ukraine. I came to U.S. in 2016 to get my Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Delaware State University. I chose to come to the U.S. because I was offered a full athletic scholarship and the opportunity to be a part of my school’s women tennis team. I started engaging in research after the first semester of college. Prior to getting in the graduate program of the University of Washington in St. Louis, I worked in Dr. Raman’s lab as a technician for one year.

Christopher Brennan

Chris Brennan is a Ph.D. student in the EEB program at Texas A&M University. He grew up in Australia but did his undergraduate in psychology and sociology at the University of North Texas. It was there, through various research projects, that he found his passion for entomology. In his spare time he likes to hike, read, and listen to music.

Alyssa Canova

Alyssa Canova is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Entomology Program at Texas A&M University. She obtained her B.S. in Biology at the University of California Riverside, where she performed lab and field-based research on social Hymenoptera. As part of the BPRI program, she will work with Dr. Hojun Song to examine tissue-specific transcriptomes during phase change as well as uncover the phylogenetic framework of phenotypic plasticity. Her research will focus primarily on Schistocerca piceifrons and Schistocerca serialis cubense.

Lila Cary

Lila is an undergraduate student working in Dr. Gabbiani’s lab at Baylor College of Medicine over the summer 2022. She is pursuing a B.S. in Neuroscience in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University. She is currently studying HCN2 channels in Schistocerca. 

Arani Cueva-Sanchez

Arani Cuevas-Sanchez is a Ph.D. student in EEB at Texas A&M University co-advised by Drs. Behmer and Sword. Her research interests broadly encompass eco-physiology. She holds a M.S. in Biology from Washington State University. As part of the BPRI, she studies the effects of abiotic factors have on organism behavior and environmental variation. As a first-generation student, she aspires to pursue a career in academia.

Gil Shaulsky

Gil Shaulsky is a Ph.D. student in the Gabbiani Lab at Baylor College of Medicine, where he studies the neuronal processing involved in vision. He graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.S. in Chemistry before working on glutamate receptor pharmacology in the Traynelis Lab at Emory University. Currently, he is recording in-vivo neural responses to visual stimuli in Schistocerca americana., but he hopes to add other species and expand the analysis to behavior. When not in the lab, he can be found daydreaming in his garden or taking blurry pictures of Houston’s fauna.

Doris Ling

Doris is a graduate student in the Raman Lab at Washington University in St Louis. She has a B.S. and a M.S. in biomedical engineering. She is currently studying the neural circuits in the insect olfactory system.

Jiayi Luo

Jiayi Luo is a second-year graduate student in Zong Lab at Baylor College of Medicine. Jiayi got her B.S. in Biochemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After graduation, she explored a few career options and realized that scientific research is where her passion lies. Jiayi’s current research focuses on capturing transcriptomic and genomic changes using single-cell sequencing methods. Jiayi spends her spare time reading and playing the piano.

Audélia Mechti

Hey there! My name is Audélia, I come from Switzerland where I graduated with a master thesis and a high school teaching diploma. This fall I started my Ph.D. in Prof. Sword’s lab. I will be focusing on the genetic basis of individual behavioral plasticity as well as collective mass movement in locusts.

Muchun Niu

As a graduate student in Dr. Chuck Zong’s Lab at Baylor College of Medicine, Muchun Niu focuses on single cell technology development. He is interested to apply novel high-throughput single cell transcriptome assays to investigate the locust phase polyphenism.

Vivian Peralta Santana

My name is Vivian, and I am a first year Ph.D. student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Program at Texas A&M. I am under the mentorship and guidance of Dr. Song. I received my B.A. in Biology at Rutgers University-Newark. I grew up in the Dominican Republic and I have loved insects ever since I was small. It was not until my undergraduate years that I discovered my passion for evolutionary biology. In my free time I like reading and learning about other sciences and organisms that pique my interest, I also love drawing.

Amanda Stahlke

Amanda Stahlke is a Postdoctoral Computational Biologist with the USDA-ARS, supervised by Anna Childers. She completed a Ph.D. in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the University of Idaho where she worked on the genomic basis of rapid evolution in tamarisk beetles and Tasmanian devils. She works to develop high-quality reference genomes, annotations, and population genomics datasets to inform management decisions on the ground.

Mehreen Tahir

Mehreen is a Ph.D. student in the Environmental Life Science program at Arizona State University. She is an international student from Pakistan. While growing up, she experienced the suffering imparted by locust outbreaks in her village in Pakistan, inspiring her to study locusts. She came to the U.S. to pursue her dream of college education. She completed a B.S. in Biochemistry with major honors from Indiana University. She is driven to address the problem of food scarcity caused due to locust outbreaks in Pakistan and around the world!

Maéva Techer

Maéva Techer joined the BPRI as a Postdoctoral Researcher and is currently based in the Entomology department of Texas A&M. She completed a Ph.D. in Population Genetics at the University of Reunion Island where she grew up. She studied genomics during her postdoc at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology in Japan. Her research seeks to understand how species and populations rapidly respond and adapt to environmental changes by generating and maintaining phenotypic plasticity and genetic diversity.