MEET THE TEAM

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

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

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.

| @iu.edu

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.

| @iu.edu

Erik Parker

Erik Parker

Graduate Student

I am an evolutionary ecologist dabbling in microbiology in an attempt to better understand the ways in which microbial symbionts influence the evolution of their animal hosts. Specifically, my work investigates how these relationships impact the developmental, and ultimately evolutionary, outcomes of different populations, and species of Onthophagus dung beetles. To investigate these questions I have married molecular, bioinformatic and animal husbandry techniques with sound statistical analysis and rigorous experimental design.

| erikpark@iu.edu

Anna Macagno

Anna Macagno

Sr Research Associate

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.

| amacagno@iu.edu

Yonggang Hu

Yonggang Hu

Postdoctoral Researcher

The origin and modification of evolutionary novelties such as butterfly wing patterns or beetle horns are key topics in evolutionary developmental biology. My interests are focused on the mechanisms of the origination and diversification of novel traits. What are the genes, gene classes, and signaling pathways that enable and/or bias innovation in evolution and the phenotypic variation thath underpins it? How do they interact with environmental factors to regulate developmental trajectories and outcomes and account for phenotypic plasticity? I use beetle horns and horned beetles as model systems to explore these questions.

| yohu@iu.edu

David Linz

David Linz

Postdoctoral Researcher

I am deeply fascinated by the morphological diversity that can be found on this planet; and how, bafflingly, so few genes, developmental pathways, and morphogenetic processes suffice to generate seemingly endless shapes and forms. Accordingly, my research interests are rooted in understanding how complex novel traits may arise by deploying old genes and gene networks within new developmental and evolutionary contexts. My current work focuses on the evolutionarily dynamic dorsal head of insects, and the way in which embryonic head patterning genes are co-opted, recruited, and rewired to pattern novel, post-embryonic structures, such as the horns of Onthophagus beetles.

| linzd@iu.edu

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

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

Kayla Copper

Kayla Copper

Research Assistant

Bio coming soon…

| kacopper@iupui.edu

Jordan Crabtree

Jordan Crabtree

Research Assistant

As an undergraduate, I am happy to have had the opportunity to pursue research in Evolutionary Biology on top of my general Biology course requirements. I’ve always been fascinated by how much we can learn about our own genetic underpinnings by looking at simpler species, and I am especially interested in the genetic regulation of nutrition-responsive traits such as the shapes and sizes of horns and general appendages in our various beetle species. I hope to one day be able to use the concepts I pick up from looking at our evolutionary past in order to progress the field of medicine.

| jrcrabtr@iu.edu

Levi Burdine

Levi Burdine

Research Assistant

Bio coming soon…

| lwburdin@iu.edu

Armin Moczek

Armin Moczek

Principal Investigator

| armin@indiana.edu

Joshua Jones

Joshua Jones

Graduate Student

| jaj35@iu.edu

Erica Nadolski

Erica Nadolski

Graduate Student

| @iu.edu

Kat Sestrick

Kat Sestrick

Graduate Student

| @iu.edu

Erik Parker

Erik Parker

Graduate Student

| erikpark@iu.edu

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 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.

More about Erik

I am an evolutionary ecologist dabbling in microbiology in an attempt to better understand the ways in which microbial symbionts influence the evolution of their animal hosts. Specifically, my work investigates how these relationships impact the developmental, and ultimately evolutionary, outcomes of different populations, and species of Onthophagus dung beetles. To investigate these questions I have married molecular, bioinformatic and animal husbandry techniques with sound statistical analysis and rigorous experimental design.
Anna Macagno

Anna Macagno

Sr Research Associate

| amacagno@iu.edu

Yonggang Hu

Yonggang Hu

Postdoctoral Researcher

| yohu@iu.edu

David Linz

David Linz

Postdoctoral Researcher

| linzd@iu.edu

Eduardo Zattara

Eduardo Zattara

Postdoctoral Researcher

| ezattara@iu.edu

Patrick Rohner

Patrick Rohner

Postdoctoral Researcher

| prohner@iu.edu

More about Anna

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.

More about Yonggang

The origin and modification of evolutionary novelties such as butterfly wing patterns or beetle horns are key topics in evolutionary developmental biology. My interests are focused on the mechanisms of the origination and diversification of novel traits. What are the genes, gene classes, and signaling pathways that enable and/or bias innovation in evolution and the phenotypic variation thath underpins it? How do they interact with environmental factors to regulate developmental trajectories and outcomes and account for phenotypic plasticity? I use beetle horns and horned beetles as model systems to explore these questions.

More about David

I am deeply fascinated by the morphological diversity that can be found on this planet; and how, bafflingly, so few genes, developmental pathways, and morphogenetic processes suffice to generate seemingly endless shapes and forms. Accordingly, my research interests are rooted in understanding how complex novel traits may arise by deploying old genes and gene networks within new developmental and evolutionary contexts. My current work focuses on the evolutionarily dynamic dorsal head of insects, and the way in which embryonic head patterning genes are co-opted, recruited, and rewired to pattern novel, post-embryonic structures, such as the horns of Onthophagus beetles.

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.

Kayla Copper

Kayla Copper

Research Assistant

| @iu.edu

Jordan Crabtree

Jordan Crabtree

Research Assistant

| @iu.edu

Levi Burdine

Levi Burdine

Research Assistant

| @iu.edu

More about Kayla

Bio coming soon…

More about Jordan

As an undergraduate, I am happy to have had the opportunity to pursue research in Evolutionary Biology on top of my general Biology course requirements. I’ve always been fascinated by how much we can learn about our own genetic underpinnings by looking at simpler species, and I am especially interested in the genetic regulation of nutrition-responsive traits such as the shapes and sizes of horns and general appendages in our various beetle species. I hope to one day be able to use the concepts I pick up from looking at our evolutionary past in order to progress the field of medicine.

More about Levi

Bio coming soon…

LAB ALUMNI

Former Post-docs:
Teiya Kijimoto, Assistant Professor, West Virginia University, Department of Biology
Emilie Snell-Rood, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota, Department of Biology
Melissa Pespeni, Assistant Professor, University of Vermont, Department of Biology
Oliver Beckers, Assistant Professor, Murray State University, Department of Biology
Cris Ledon-Rettig, Assistant Professor, Indiana University, Department of Biology

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

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.