Biological Sciences Award Winners

The Department of Biological Sciences commends it's many faculty, staff, postdoctoral students and graduate students for their award winning research efforts

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

  • NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
    • I plan to use a combination of fieldwork, machine learning, and phylogenetic comparative methods, to disentangle abiotic and biotic drivers of evolution in an understudied group of Neotropical flowering epiphytes, Hillieae (in the family Rubiaceae- aka the coffee family). While it's a relatively small group of only 29 species, Hillieae displays incredible floral diversity, and species fall into three pollination syndromes: bat, hawkmoth, and hummingbird. As part of my research, I will be traveling to Monteverde, Costa Rica, the region with the greatest Hillieae species richness, to confirm pollinators, study plant-pollinator interactions, collect floral trait data, and collect Hillieae herbarium specimens. I am also working on inferring the first robust phylogeny for this group. By integrating life history data that I collect in the field, with phylogenetics and biogeography, I will be able to assess the roles of different abiotic and biotic factors (e.g. pollinator shift, mountain uplift, climatic niche shift) in shaping evolutionary relationships in Hillieae.  
  • Award in Tropical Botany from the Garden Club of America

  • SEC Emerging Scholar
    • Glaucia Del‐Rio was born on the outskirts of São Paulo, Brazil, where she studied in public schools and
      discovered a love for science that led to her pursuing a career in biology. She earned her bachelor’s and
      master’s degrees in Biological Sciences at the University of São Paulo, and Del‐Rio became a field and
      museum ornithologist particularly interested in Amazonian birds. Her goal is to become a member of the
      faculty where she can use genomics to study how new species arise and are maintained in the region
      with the largest number of bird species on the planet.

  • SEC Emerging Scholar
    • Zachary Rodriguez is a Puerto Rican computational biologist from New York who is currently a
      postdoctoral researcher at Louisiana State University, where he analyzes clinical digital phenotype data
      (i.e., video, audio, text) with machine learning to measure symptoms of serious mental illness. His
      personal research focuses on using advanced computational approaches to answer questions related to
      evolution, biodiversity and genetic variation. Rodriguez is passionate about scientific outreach and spends
      much of his time communicating publicly about ecology and biological research. He is also an advocate
      for equity, diversity and inclusion in STEM, striving to help underrepresented individuals succeed, find
      mentors and increase their visibility.

  • SEC Emerging Scholar
    • Luis Y. Santiago‐Rosario’s research interests began at the University of Puerto Rico with a bachelor’s
      degree in Biology and continued with a master’s degree in Biotechnology at the Inter‐American University
      of Puerto Rico. His interest in the life sciences were born while being surrounded by tropical forests and
      coffee fields in Ciales, Puerto Rico. Currently, he is pursuing a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences at Louisiana
      State University, and his research focuses on understanding how sodium influences trophic‐level
      interactions and plant‐herbivore ecology. Santiago‐Rosario also founded the Club Eco‐Evo Latinoamérica,
      a group aimed at communicating science in Spanish.
      Dr.