MEET THE TEAM

Click on our heads to learn more about our interests!

Armin Moczek

Armin Moczek

Principal Investigator

I’m fascinated by how novel complex traits originate in development and evolution. I want to know what it takes genetically, developmentally, and ecologically for novel traits and trait variants to arise from ancestral variation, and how such events may set to stage for subsequent major evolutionary transitions and adaptive radiations. I appreciate all types of organismal diversity, but insects have always been especially fascinating to me. My research employs diverse insect models, but especially horned beetles in the genus Onthophagus, to explore the nature of innovation and diversification in the natural world.

| armin@indiana.edu
(he/him)

Joshua Jones

Joshua Jones

Graduate Student

The communities of microbes that exist within a given space is known as the microbiome. I am broadly interested in the symbioses between organisms and their respective microbiomes. Research into these relationships can give us pivotal insight into the roles that microbes play in their host’s evolution and ecology and vise versa. From nutrient uptake and amino acid synthesis to development and reproduction, microbes have been shown to undertake many processes to their host’s benefits. I believe Onthophagus to be a particularly good model for investigating many of these interactions

| jaj35@iu.edu
(he/him)

Erica Nadolski

Erica Nadolski

Graduate Student

I am fascinated by the biodiversity apparent all around us. In particular, I am interested in how developmental processes bias heritable phenotypic variation, influence responses to selection, and shape phenotypic evolution. My past research focused on the genetic basis of a morphological novelty shaped by sexual selection in Drosophila. My current interests are centered on how developmental plasticity in particular and developmental bias broadly may affect genetic and epigenetic inheritance and contribute to biodiversity.

| emnadols@iu.edu
(she/her)

Kenzie Givens

Kenzie Givens

Graduate Student

I am interested in endosymbiosis, a highly specialized form of mutualism in which a host relies on microbes it houses within its own cells to perform essential functions. These close associations permit extensive functional integration and mutual dependence that afford many benefits to both parties, although they are not without risk. I aim to understand how these partnerships are established and the factors driving their long-term persistence using a combination of genomics and mathematical models. My current research focuses on genome instability in the mitochondria and in the bacterial endosymbionts of cicadas.

| mcgivens@iu.edu
(she/her)

Kat Sestrick

Kat Sestrick

Graduate Student

Insects display a broad array of physiological and developmental adaptations, allowing them to colonize nearly the entirety of terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. I am interested in the mechanisms that have allowed insects to be successful across such a range of environments and associated food resources. I am especially interested in how the mechanisms of developmental regulation, plasticity, and novelty have contributed to the malleability of the insect body plan to facilitate insect evolvability and adaptation.

| ksestric@iu.edu
(she/her)

Phil Davidson

Phil Davidson

Postdoctoral Researcher

Contextualizing developmental differences in terms of evolutionary change provides a powerful framework for explaining the origination of biodiversity. My primary research interests seek to identify the genomic and regulatory basis of developmental evolution to better understand the molecular drivers of novel traits and adaptations. In particular, I am interested in the roles of the non-coding genome and
selection in shaping gene network evolution, in the formation of novel, complex traits, and in mediating adaptive phenotypes. In the Moczek Lab, I am pursuing multi-species genomic and developmental
analyses in Onthophagus beetles with the goal to characterize the regulation and evolution of developmental plasticity and morphological innovation.

| @iu.edu
(he/him)

Kirstin Milks

Kirstin Milks

Science Outreach Consultant

Bio coming soon!

| kirstin.milks@gmail.com
(she/they)

Eduardo Zattara

Eduardo Zattara

Postdoctoral Researcher

I have a long standing interest in the role of developmental bias in channeling evolutionary change by vetoing certain evolutionary trajectories while facilitating others. Central to this concept is the notion that developmental programs interact with environmental conditions to create a rugged landscape of potential change, while evolution traces paths of least resistance through that landscape. In my research I investigate the nature and consequences of developmental channeling in the evolution of novel traits during post-embryonic development, from annelids and nemerteans to insects.

| ezattara@iu.edu
(he/him)

Patrick Rohner

Patrick Rohner

Postdoctoral Researcher

As an evolutionary ecologist I am broadly interested in how the astonishing diversity of insect shapes, sizes and reproductive strategies originated, how it is maintained, and how it diversifies. I integrate multivariate quantitative genetic, comparative, and experimental approaches to understand the complex interplay between ecology, evolution and developmental plasticity. My current research centers on how insects deal with novel environmental regimes in both the short and long-term. I am particularly interested in the role of developmental plasticity in channeling evolutionary divergence within and across various species.

| prohner@iu.edu
(he/him)

Meha Patel

Meha Patel

Afrisnet Progr. Assistant

I currently study Operations Management and Entrepreneurship at IU’s Kelley School of Business. My interest in business is rooted in growing up in an entrepreneurial family in Kenya, where I am constantly exposed to various creative discussions ranging from brainstorming new business ideas to managing projects efficiently. I work closely with my family members to tap various markets in Kenya. These include commercial mass printing and packaging services, importing various retail products, and managing a restaurant and catering service. My future plans involve expanding the family business and involving in philanthropic projects in Kenya. 

| mhp@iu.edu
(she/her)

Levi Burdine

Levi Burdine

Research Assistant

Bio coming soon…

| lwburdin@iu.edu
(he/him)

Jackson Norman

Jackson Norman

Research Assistant

Bio coming soon…

| @iu.edu
(he/him)

Eve Pieri

Eve Pieri

Research Assistant

Bio coming soon…

| espieri@iu.edu
(she/her)

Isabel Manley

Isabel Manley

Research Assistant

I am interested in the study of genetics, and specifically in the interactions between genes and environmental conditions in shaping organisms and their traits.

| imanley@iu.edu

Armin Moczek

Armin Moczek

Principal Investigator

| armin@indiana.edu
(he/him)

Joshua Jones

Joshua Jones

Graduate Student

| jaj35@iu.edu
(he/him)

Erica Nadolski

Erica Nadolski

Graduate Student

| emnadols@iu.edu
(she/her)

Kenzie Givens

Kenzie Givens

Graduate Student

| mcgivens@iu.edu
(she/her)

Kat Sestrick

Kat Sestrick

Graduate Student

| ksestric@iu.edu
(she/her)

More about Armin

I’m fascinated by how novel complex traits originate in development and evolution. I want to know what it takes genetically, developmentally, and ecologically for novel traits and trait variants to arise from ancestral variation, and how such events may set to stage for subsequent major evolutionary transitions and adaptive radiations. I appreciate all types of organismal diversity, but insects have always been especially fascinating to me. My research employs diverse insect models, but especially horned beetles in the genus Onthophagus, to explore the nature of innovation and diversification in the natural world.

More about Joshua

The communities of microbes that exist within a given space is known as the microbiome. I am broadly interested in the symbioses between organisms and their respective microbiomes. Research into these relationships can give us pivotal insight into the roles that microbes play in their host’s evolution and ecology and vise versa. From neutrient uptake and amino acid synthesis to development and reproduction, microbes have been shown to undertake many processes to their host’s benefits. I believe Onthophagus to be a particularly good model for investigating many of these interactions

More about Erica

I am fascinated by the biodiversity apparent all around us. In particular, I am interested in how developmental processes bias heritable phenotypic variation, influence responses to selection, and shape phenotypic evolution. My past research focused on the genetic basis of a morphological novelty shaped by sexual selection in Drosophila. My current interests are centered on how developmental plasticity in particular and developmental bias broadly may affect genetic and epigenetic inheritance and contribute to biodiversity.

More about Kenzie

I am interested in endosymbiosis, a highly specialized form of mutualism in which a host relies on microbes it houses within its own cells to perform essential functions. These close associations permit extensive functional integration and mutual dependence that afford many benefits to both parties, although they are not without risk. I aim to understand how these partnerships are established and the factors driving their long-term persistence using a combination of genomics and mathematical models. My current research focuses on genome instability in the mitochondria and in the bacterial endosymbionts of cicadas.

More about Kat

Insects display a broad array of physiological and developmental adaptations, allowing them to colonize nearly the entirety of terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. I am interested in the mechanisms that have allowed insects to be successful across such a range of environments and associated food resources. I am especially interested in how the mechanisms of developmental regulation, plasticity, and novelty have contributed to the malleability of the insect body plan to facilitate insect evolvability and adaptation.

Phil Davidson

Phil Davidson

Postdoctoral Researcher

| @iu.edu
(he/him)

Kirstin Milks

Kirstin Milks

Science Outreach Consultant

| kirstin.milks@gmail.com
(she/they)

Eduardo Zattara

Eduardo Zattara

Postdoctoral Researcher

| ezattara@iu.edu
(he/him)

Patrick Rohner

Patrick Rohner

Postdoctoral Researcher

| prohner@iu.edu
(he/him)

Meha Patel

Meha Patel

Afrisnet Progr. Assistant

|mhp@iu.edu
(she/her)

More about Phil

Contextualizing developmental differences in terms of evolutionary change provides a powerful framework for explaining the origination of biodiversity. My primary research interests seek to identify the genomic and regulatory basis of developmental evolution to better understand the molecular drivers of novel traits and adaptations. In particular, I am interested in the roles of the non-coding genome and selection in shaping gene network evolution, in the formation of novel, complex traits, and in mediating adaptive phenotypes. In the Moczek Lab, I am pursuing multi-species genomic and developmental analyses in Onthophagus beetles with the goal to characterize the regulation and evolution of developmental plasticity and morphological innovation.

More about Kirstin

Coming soon!

More about Eduardo

I have a long standing interest in the role of developmental bias in channeling evolutionary change by vetoing certain evolutionary trajectories while facilitating others. Central to this concept is the notion that developmental programs interact with environmental conditions to create a rugged landscape of potential change, while evolution traces paths of least resistance through that landscape. In my research I investigate the nature and consequences of developmental channeling in the evolution of novel traits during post-embryonic development, from  annelids and nemerteans to insects.

More about Patrick

As an evolutionary ecologist I am broadly interested in how the astonishing diversity of insect shapes, sizes and reproductive strategies originated, how it is maintained, and how it diversifies. I integrate multivariate quantitative genetic, comparative, and experimental approaches to understand the complex interplay between ecology, evolution and developmental plasticity. My current research centers on how insects deal with novel environmental regimes in both the short and long-term. I am particularly interested in the role of developmental plasticity in channeling evolutionary divergence within and across various species.

More about Levi

Bio coming soon…

Levi Burdine

Levi Burdine

Research Assistant

| lwburdin@iu.edu
(he/him)

Jackson Norman

Jackson Norman

Research Assistant

| @iu.edu
(he/him)

Eve Pieri

Eve Pieri

Research Assistant

| espieri@iu.edu
(she/her)

Isabel Manley

Isabel Manley

Research Assistant

| imanley@iu.edu
(she/her)

More about Levi

Bio coming soon…

More about Phil

Contextualizing developmental differences in terms of evolutionary change provides a powerful framework for explaining the origination of biodiversity. My primary research interests seek to identify the genomic and regulatory basis of developmental evolution to better understand the molecular drivers of novel traits and adaptations. In particular, I am interested in the roles of the non-coding genome and selection in shaping gene network evolution, in the formation of novel, complex traits, and in mediating adaptive phenotypes. In the Moczek Lab, I am pursuing multi-species genomic and developmental analyses in Onthophagus beetles with the goal to characterize the regulation and evolution of developmental plasticity and morphological innovation.

More about Eve

I have a long standing interest in the role of developmental bias in channeling evolutionary change by vetoing certain evolutionary trajectories while facilitating others. Central to this concept is the notion that developmental programs interact with environmental conditions to create a rugged landscape of potential change, while evolution traces paths of least resistance through that landscape. In my research I investigate the nature and consequences of developmental channeling in the evolution of novel traits during post-embryonic development, from  annelids and nemerteans to insects.

More about Isabel

I am a broadly trained entomologist with a research background spanning the systematics and evolution of morphology of Onthophagus beetles, the community ecology and conservation of dung beetles, and the ecology, distribution, and conservation of saproxylic beetles and dragonflies. As a member of the Moczek lab, I am using Onthophagus beetles to study the parallel divergence of male and female copulatory structures, the role of appendage-patterning genes in their development, and the evolution  of ovarian development in populations subject to different levels of competition.

LAB ALUMNI

Former Post-docs:
Oliver Beckers: Associate Professor, Murray State University, Department of Biology
Yonggang Hu: Assistant Professor, Institute of Silkworm Genome Biology, Southwest University, Chongqing, China.
Teiya Kijimoto: Assistant Professor, West Virginia University, Department of Biology
David Linz: Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education Post-Doctoral fellow, Environmental Protection Agency
Anna Macagno: Biostatistician and Project Manager, Dept. of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Indiana University
Melissa Pespeni: Associate Professor, University of Vermont, Department of Biology
Cris Ledon-Rettig: Assistant Professor, Indiana University, Department of Biology
Emilie Snell-Rood: Associate Professor, University of Minnesota, Department of Biology

Former Graduate Students:
Bronwyn Heather Bleakley: Associate Professor and Chair, Stonehill College, MA
Sofia Casasa: Postdoctoral Researcher, Ragsdale Lab, Indiana University
Guillaume Dury: Wade Lab, Indiana University
Erik Parker: Biostatistician I, Dept. of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Indiana University
Harald Parzer: Associate Professor, Farleigh Dickinson University, Department of Biological and Allied Health Sciences
Daniel Schwab: AAAS Science and Policy Fellow, Department of Defense, DC
Matthew Stansbury: Associate Professor, Colorado Mesa University, Department of Biology
Bethany Wasik: Editor, Cornell University Press

OUTREACH

Our outreach initiative creates impactful K12 resources, enhances diversity in STEM, and trains the next generation of science communicators.

LATEST PUBLICATIONS

Read more about the various projects underway in the lab, and our work towards understanding innovation in the natural world.

GET INVOLVED

Find how to apply to join the lab, participate in our outreach programs, or contribute towards our research goals.