People

Melissa E. Kemp
Melissa E. Kemp
Principal Investigator
PhD, Biology, Stanford University, 2015.
BA, Biology, Williams College, 2010.

Francisco Llauger
Francisco Llauger
Graduate Student
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I was born in Guadalajara, Mexico but was raised in Houston, Texas. Originally wanting to be a paleontologist, I soon became obsessed with reptiles. I graduated from the University of Houston with a major in Biology and minor in Business Administration. While there, I conducted undergraduate research on the evolution of scaling relationships. Now, my childhood interests have come full circle as I begin my graduate studies at the University of Texas. I am interested in the evolution of morphology in herpetofauna as a response to environmental change, utilizing the fossil record to further inform modern day changes. Outside of the lab, I love to explore nature and observe all sorts of wildlife, as well as attend to my own pets and work out.

David Ledesma
David Ledesma
Graduate Student
e-mail | website

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I was born and raised in Richmond, TX. As a kid, I would often explore nature while catching ribbon snakes, earth snakes, anoles, geckos, and other herpetofauna. These experiences, along with my visits to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, instilled in me a fascination for reptiles and amphibians as well as the history of life on earth. I received my Bachelor of Science in Geological Sciences with species honors from the University of Texas in 2017. After graduation, I worked as a teaching assistant for a freshman course at UT and published some of my undergraduate research on alligator lizards. I began my graduate studies at the University of Texas in the Fall of 2018. I am interested in studying Quaternary herpetofaunas utilizing ancient DNA to better understand how populations have changed through time. In my free time, I like to play soccer and continue to go out into nature to catch critters.

Molly Moroz
Molly Moroz
Graduate Student
e-mail | twitter

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I am originally from Michigan and majored in Ecology, Evolution & Biodiversity and Earth & Environmental Sciences at the University of Michigan. As an undergraduate, I studied the dietary ecology of Heteromyid rodents from the middle Miocene. After graduating in 2017, I served with AmeriCorps in Washington with the YMCA Earth Service Corps to provide environmental education opportunities to high schools in the Greater Seattle area. Here at UT, I hope to study Quaternary mammal paleoecology in Texas and beyond.

Alessandra Ayala
Alissandra Ayala
Undergraduate Researcher

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I am from the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. I am currently majoring in Biology and plan to go on to graduate school where I will study evolution and ecology.

Brianna Fogel
Brianna Fogel
Undergraduate Researcher

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I was born in Miami but am a Texan at heart, being raised in Houston. Ever since I was in elementary school, I knew I eventually wanted a career in the natural sciences and wanted to work with animals and nature. I followed my heart to become an Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior major at UT, with a minor in Science Communication and a certificate in Marine Science. My childhood dream still holds true. After graduation, I will apply to graduate school and am aiming to work for a biodiversity conservation center and manage endangered/threated species, habitats, and ecosystems. As an undergraduate, I have gotten a research grant to work with pollen feeding beetles, done extensive lab work with the UT Marine Science Institute, and have done many ecological independent projects. Thanks and Hook ‘em!

Daniel Ramirez
Daniel Ramirez
Undergraduate Researcher

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As I was growing up, I always had this will to learn new things every day. In school, I was fascinated by every math equation that flocked its way to my desk, and every new spelling word buzzed through my head excitingly right before a typical Friday spelling test. I loved working with animals from butterflies and crayfish in the second grade to dissected frogs and cats in the ninth grade: nearly every inquisitive encounter with nature fueled me with an ambition to learn why the world was the way it was (and continues to be). These passions of mine grew with family trips to the zoo, through National Geographic articles in my mailbox, and in my own studies in high school and beyond. With so much knowledge flooding my mind, over time I decided to work for a career in a health profession, particularly neurology or neurosurgery. This switch came to me due to a greater fascination with the human brain and from a desire to help those in need. Despite these changing interests and experiences of mine, I continue to strive forward and grasp any opportunity that comes my way.

Jenna Wadman
Jenna Wadman
Undergraduate Researcher

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I am a junior at the University of Texas majoring in Environmental Science with a focus in biology. Growing up, my family and I would spend our summers exploring the national parks, and ever since, I have been interested in protecting natural areas and the critters living in them. During my time here at UT, I have assisted with field research in Botswana, studying the response of vegetation to climate change. While working in the Kemp Lab, I hope to gain a more holistic understanding of how to effectively conserve species under increasing human influence and environmental change.