Jason Munshi-South, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Biological Sciences
Louis Calder Center-Biological Field Station
Fordham University
31 Whippoorwill Road
Armonk, NY 10504
(914) 273-3078 x20
E-mail: jason at nycevolution dot org


Emily Puckett, Ph.D.


     My research focuses on patterns of genomic variation at both neutral and adaptive sites and how that varies across a species’ range.  Specifically, I am interested in understanding the phylogeographic patterns of species to elucidate the spatial extent of populations and larger genetic neighborhoods.  Once those patterns have been inferred, I am able to identify genomic regions where selection may be acting (accounting variability in genetic background), thereby leading to investigations of mechanisms behind local adaptation.
     My dissertation work was on the American black bear and my postdoc on brown rats.  These species are particularly interesting to investigate adaptation because they are both generalists, inhabiting a wide range of climates and resources.  I am interested in answering the following questions:

What selection pressures affect local adaptation in generalists?

How does admixture effect local adaptation in the genome?

Are there common phylogeographic patterns in widely dispersed North American species?

Visit Emily’s website and her blogs at WildlifeSNPits

Elizabeth Carlen
Ph.D. Student

     I received a B.S. in Biological Sciences from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and an M.S. in Biological Sciences from San Francisco State University in conjunction with the California Academy of Sciences.  My masters research looked at the phylogenetics of giant elephant-shrews (genus Rhynchocyon).
     Broadly I am interested in the landscape genetics of urban animals, how organisms adapt to urban environments, and if cities can act as islands of evolution.

Follow Liz on Twitter.

Matthew Combs
Ph.D. student

     My research stems from observing the consequences of modern human society on evolutionary and ecological systems.  This leads to questions like: How does the spatial organization of populations and physical infrastructure affect the dispersal of species? How do ecological roles change as the intensity of human activity increases? What adaptations arise in the face of anthropogenic selective pressures? Study systems that address these questions vary widely in scale and species, and often allow a critical perspective on familiar places and phenomena.
     Currently I study the evolution and ecology of brown rats inhabiting New York City.  Using molecular ecology and spatial statistics I am determining the population structure and landscape genetic patterns of this abundant commensal species. As an undergraduate senior thesis student at Hamilton College, I investigated an aspect of the “hygiene hypothesis”, focusing on the implications of parasitic infection on autoimmune disorders. In the past my interests have led to research on the effect of climate change on ant communities and subterranean behavior at the Harvard Forest as well as the distribution and ecology of invasive species in Colorado and upstate New York. I can often be found hiking, singing to myself, and/or collecting and photographing arthropods.

Follow Matt on Twitter

Nicole Fusco
Ph.D. student

     I joined the lab in the Fall 2014. I had previously worked for 8 years teaching environmental education at nature centers and zoos in the tri-state area. I currently have a B.S. in Wildlife Science from SUNY college of Environmental Science and Forestry and an M.A. in Animal Behavior and Conservation from CUNY Hunter College. For my master’s I did my thesis research on mirror self-recognition in captive Asian elephants (Elephas maximus). For my Ph.D. research I am currently working on land- and stream-scape genomics of Northern two-lined salamanders (Eurycea bislineata) and how genomic structure of these populations differ between urban, suburban and rural watersheds. I recently earned the Clare Boothe Luce Fellowship for Women in Science for the 2015-2017 term.

Carol Henger
Ph.D. student


     Carol joins us after working as a primate keeper at the Bronx Zoo. During that time she completed her Master’s degree in Animal Behavior and Conservation. Her Ph.D. research is focused on learning how large mammals utilize highly urbanized landscapes. She is currently using genetic analysis and landscape modeling of coyotes in New York City to predict movement patterns and barriers to gene flow.

Jane Park
Research Assistant


     I joined the lab in September 2015. I received my B.S. in Environmental Systems- Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution from UC San Diego. While at UCSD, I completed an undergraduate research project on the short-term arthropod responses to large-scale wildfires in Southern California, comparing the pre- and post-fire abundances of three arthropods: Mutillidae (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae), Zarhipis integripennis (Coleoptera: Phengodidae), and diplopods (Diplopoda). Before coming to the Munshi-South lab I was the curatorial assistant for the UC San Diego Drosophila Species Stock Center and a volunteer in the Markow lab at UCSD, where I helped add to phylogenetic data sets for Phyllophaga scarab beetles and species of Drosophila.

Frank Fontana
Undergraduate Student

I am a senior at Fordham University majoring in Biology and am pre-veterinary. In the past, I worked at the Central Park Zoo and in several veterinary clinics. My favorite author is Gregory Maguire. In my spare time I enjoy going to the theater and have been to over 20 Broadway shows.

Olivia Micci-Smith
Undergraduate Student

I am a junior at Fordham University majoring in Biology and minoring in History. I am interested in animal behavior and evolution. In the past, I have worked with children through the National Audubon Society. I’ve also worked in a lab at Southern Connecticut State University studying the dormancy effects of coral. In my free time, I like to play squash and sit in chairs. 

Lab Alumni

Corentin Bohl, Ph.D.
(2012) CUNY Graduate Center.
Dissertation: “Predicting Introductions and Range Expansions of the Monk Parakeet with Ecological Niche Modeling and Landscape Genetics”

Stephen Harris, Ph.D.
(2009-2015) CUNY Graduate Center.
Dissertation: “Population Genomics of White-Footed Mice (Peromyscus leucopus) in New York City
Stephen is currently a postdoc at Columbia University. Visit Stephen’s website at

Ian Hays
(2015) Undergraduate student & Lab Technician, Fordham University.
Ian is currently a master’s student in the Hauber lab at CUNY Hunter College.