Emily Jane

ORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0001-9766-5727

Graduate Students

  • Lucia Bazan-Williamson

    Lucia Bazan-Williamson is a graduate student in Quantitative and Systems Biology. She is interested in the generation of statistic methods to a better understanding of evolution and gene expression in human structural variation between populations and their connection to differential health outcomes. She did an internship in Joint Genome Institute (JGI), at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where she expanded her computational skills and learn new genomic analysis techniques.

  • Josue Duque
    Josue is a graduate student in Quantitative and Systems Biology program. He is interested broadly in the leveraging and development of computational tools and omics data sets to investigate the evolutionary undercurrents driving and constraining variation.

McTavish Lab Pets

  • Iris

  • Custard \

Luna and Custard

  • Nova

  • Mia

Previous lab members:

Graduate students

  • Lesly Lopez-Fang

    Lesly Lopez-Fang graduated in May 2023. Her PhD work was published in PLoS Genetics.

  • Lesly Lopez
    PhD 2023 Lesly Lopez is a graduate student in Quantitative and Systems Biology. She is involved in the NRT Training Program in Intelligent Adaptive Systems at UC Merced. She is interested in the development and application of statistical methods to detect gene flow, specifically localized gene flow. She also studies assessing biases that could affect the performance of these methods.

  • Jasper Toscani Field
    PhD 2022 Jasper was graduate student in Quantitative and Systems Biology. He is interested in evolutionary dynamics of disease genomics and what we’re actually doing with all the biological sequence data we generate. He is the primary author of Extensiphy, a program for rapidly updating sequence alignments with whole-genome raw read data. Extensiphy is being applied to gonorrhea data in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Jasper is involved in the NSF Research Traineeship Intelligent Adaptive Systems program and is currently working to investigate the effects of reference bias on guided sequence assembly and phylogenetic estimation. Jasper previously worked on the phylogenomics of avian blood parasites at San Francisco State University.

Postdoctoral Researchers

  • Luna L. Sánchez Reyes

    Luna started her second postdoc at UC Merced in August 2019. She did her PhD at UNAM with Susana Magallón, focusing on the understanding and testing of methods to estimate species diversification processes using a wide range of organisms as models of study. She is widely intertested in science communication and is an active participant of the open science movement. Her current work in projects such as Phylotastic, DateLife and The Open Tree of Life focuses on making available scientific information on time of lineage divergence for easy reuse and reanalysis in Science and Education. She has been working on the Physcraper Python package software development, a tool that establishes an interoperability framework for biological databases, to continually update and enrich existing expert phylogenetic data with public DNA sequence data from more taxa.

  • Martha Kandziora

    The key motivation for my research is to understand what drives speciation and how biodiversity is maintained, with a focus on the roles of spatial, historical and ecological processes. I use phylogentic methods to investigate how diversity is generated and maintained mostly focusing on flowering plants. Currently, in the McTavish Lab I program a tool to automatically update phylogenies.

Rotation students

  • Shayna Bennett\


Shayna Bennett is a first year graduate student in the Quantitative and Systems Biology program. She holds B.S. degrees in Environmental Science and Mathematics from Johnson State College and a M.S. in Applied Mathematics from the University of California, Merced. Shayna is interested in studying bacteria and bacteriophage evolution using both wet lab and computational methods.

  • Yumary Vasquez \


Yumary Vasquez a graduate student in the Quantitative and Systems Biology program. She is broadly interested in computational biology and evolution. Her system of choice is insects because of the amazing evolutionary work that can be studied, but she personally hates bugs.

Undergraduate Researchers

  • James Waterford

  • Randy Posada
    In Fall 2021, Randy started a graduate program in Veterinary Medicine at UNiveristy of Arizona.

    Randy began his journey with the McTavish Lab in the summer of 2020 where he finalized a reproducible data report for the entire phylogeny of the family of bats (Chiroptera). This report is available online as an R vignette on Randy’s website. Randy currently explores methods of reproducible research and learns skills in high-level language programs such as R and Python. He is also engaged with the Open Tree of Life project (OTOL) where he curates published dated phylogenies (chronograms) for various organisms such as birds, flowering plants, and butterflies. Randy was recently awarded a Fellowship from the Livermore Lab Foundation in partnership with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he will further his data science skills working alongside nationally recognized scientists on the target identification/COVID-19 research team.

  • Kiana Behestian In Fall 2021, Kiana started a masters of public health program at Brown.

  • Joseline Velasquez-Reyes

    Joseline graduated from UC Merced in 2020 with Human Biology & Psychology degrees. She started in the Lab on the summer of 2019 to understand adpative introgression between African, Indicine, and Taurine cattle populations, to further understand the domestication process that gave rise to modern cattle. She recieved an Honorable Mention for 2021 NSF GRFP and will be starting graduate school Fall 2021 at Boston University.

  • Michael Decicco
  • Ashley Marin
  • Alejandra Morales
  • Gurshaan Nagra

Vernal Pools
McTavishLab + guide Jackie Shay exploring the Vernal Pools reserve