Principal Investigator

Seth M. Bybee


Seth M. Bybee

I am an evolutionary biologist whose focus is on the phylogenetics and diversification of dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata) with a special emphasis on the evolution of their visual systems and flight. Although, Odonata is my main system to test biological questions, members of the lab also focus on the evolution of beetles and scorpionflies with the common thread of visual system evolution.  I am also very much interested in Biology Science Education.  BYU’s student population has nearly homogenous religious/world views providing a unique system for testing questions regarding the reasons that students struggle to engage with the theory of evolution. 

Current lab funding comes from the National Science Foundation with the goal of combining both fossil and extant species of Odonata within a single phylogenetic framework.  This grant also supports several studies in odonate visuals system evolution. 

I graduated with a BS in Conservation Biology from BYU in April 2004.  I received a PhD in December 2008 from the University of Florida.  Marc Branham was my PhD advisor.  My dissertation focused on the evolution of the odonate wing and the special wing structures that support their flight.  Following my PhD I pursued a postdoc at the University of California-Irvine, where I studied the evolution of color and color vision in Helicionius butterflies with Adriana Briscoe.  I did a second postdoc with Keith Crandall that focused on harnessing NGS data for higher-level phylogenetics.  During this time I was part of a collaborative effort between the Crandall lab and Todd Oakley’s lab at UCSB to produce tools (Oakley lab) and transcriptomes from visual tissues to facilitate the study of visual system at the molecular
level across Arthropoda and beyond.  

My CV
   


Postdoctoral Fellows

Nathan Lord
 

Nathan Lord



I am broadly interested in all facets of Coleoptera Systematics, but my current research focuses on members within the Cucujiformia. The majority of my present work is contained within the beetle families Zopheridae (Tenebrionoidea) and Bothrideridae (Cucujoidea), but I have also worked on projects within Latridiidae, Cerambycidae, Akalyptoischiidae, and Endomychidae. 


I am most interested in alpha- and beta-level taxonomy, reconstructing phylogenies utilizing both morphological and molecular data, and enhancing systematics products through interactive, digital tools (e.g. Lucid keys) and high-resolution imaging. I am actively researching the phylogenetic relationships within Zopheridae with an emphasis on the biogeography of the Southern Hemisphere through the use of zopherids as a model taxon. In addition, I am also conducting several descriptive and revisionary projects within Zopheridae and Bothrideridae, where numerous new taxa are being described. 

I am currently a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Seth Bybee’s Lab (BYU), where I am investigating the evolution of visual systems in Odonata through the use of NGS and transcriptomic methodologies.

I received a BSES in Entomology in 2006 and M.S. in Entomology in 2008 from the University of Georgia under the direction of Dr. Joseph McHugh. My MS thesis was a molecular phylogeny of the Minute Brown Scavenger Beetles (Coleoptera: Latridiidae) and a taxonomic revision of the genus Deretaphrus Newman (Coleoptera: Bothrideridae). I received my Ph.D. in Biology in July 2013 from the Univeristy of New Mexico under the direction of Dr. Kelly Miller. I joined Dr. Bybee’s lab in August, 2013.

My CV


Graduate Students

Gavin J. Martin

Gavin J. Martin                 Firefly

I am a second year MS student working on firefly (Coleoptera: Lampyridae) phylogenetics and visual system evolution. I am using NGS technology to study the co-evolution of the opsin genes with the luciferase genes of both fireflies that use bioluminescence and those that do not. I am mostly interested in the phylogenetics and systematics of Coleoptera.

My CV

Anton Suvorov

Anton Surorov

I graduated from Moscow State University (Russia) with a M.S. degree in entomology in 2009 and then attended the University of Cambridge (UK) to study the genetics of bacterial symbiosis within insects in the Jiggins Lab. In 2011, I joined the Institute of Population Genetics in Vienna where I studied intraspecific cis-trans regulatory variation of gene expression in Drosophila pseudoobscura with Christian Schlötterer and Andreas Futschik. I have long been interested in insect genetics, evolution, bioinformatics and probabilistic approaches in biology, especially Bayesian inference and machine learning algorithms. As a Ph.D. student here at BYU, I am going to investigate phylogenomics and the evolution of visual systems in Odonata using NGS data under the supervision of Seth Bybee.

My CV   


Haley Cahill Wightman

Haley C. Wightman

I am a first-year graduate student whose research currently focuses on the placement of fossil taxa in phylogenetic trees, and the evolution of female polychromatism in Odonata. I joined the Bybee lab after studying Mantodea systematics with Gavin Svenson at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and working in the non-profit project management field. 

My CV


Undergraduate Students

Preston Arnold

Preston Arnold

I graduated with honors from McQueen High School in Reno, Nevada in 2009.  A National Merit Scholar, I graduated top ten in his class of 400 while participating in a variety of extra-curricular activities.  The primary groups I was involved with were the school choir and orchestra where he served in various leadership positions while also participating in the district honor choir and al-state orchestra.  I was also heavily involved with scouting and church youth groups where he served in additional leadership positions and obtained his Eagle Scout award.

After graduation, I attended Brigham Young University on a full tuition scholarship.  After one year I left his studies to serve a two year church-service mission in Nicaragua.  While there, I gave over seventy-five hours of service every week and became fluent in Spanish.  Upon returning to BYU, I selected a major in Biochemistry with minors in Business Management and Music.  In April of 2012, I began volunteering in Dr. Bybee's lab where I perform PCRs and other basic lab procedures to help generate data for phylogenetic analysis.  In addition to my work with the lab, I am involved with the Honor's Program on campus and maintaina 3.89 GPA after five completed semesters.  I am expected to graduate in April of 2016.

Ryan Hillary

Ryan Hillary

I'm a Senior here at BYU studying Bioinformatics, I chose the major because of the exciting opportunities that are available to those who pursue this course of study. There is indeed a demand for this skill set. Pursuing this major has led to many fun opportunities to work for a medical diagnostic company in San Jose and for Life Technologies in South San Francisco, I couldn't have been happier then I was working and being in California for two summers, working to help improve the human condition with what skills I have. 
I'm the kind of person who likes to take something and strive to make it better and more efficient. I enjoy envisioning the desired end result and then embarking into the unknown of how to solve that specific problem. There is a satisfying motivation in solving a complex problem and seeing that the problem was solved. 
I was raised in Sandy UT where I enjoyed working in the outdoors. I love it when its green and warm outside and hope to escape the snow someday. Backpacking, cycling and getting a good Chaco tan during many other outdoor adventures is something I will never get tired of. One of my other hobbies and passions is cars, I enjoy working on them, improving their function and power and maintaining them. When I'm not working or studying you can find me in a garage working on a car listening to a 60's and 70's oldies radio station.
I have enjoyed working for Dr. Bybee. He has a sincere desire to help his students succeed and participate. He doesn't hesitate to get you involved and working. While I admit I know very little about arthropods and odonates, I truly enjoy applying my skills to help pursue his unique and groundbreaking studies. The skills I have acquired in this lab has caught the eyes of job recruiters and have opened the doors to many opportunities which would have otherwise been closed to me, and for this I thank Dr. Bybee's lab.

Kelsy K. Johnson

Kelsy K. Johnson


I am a senior at Brigham Young University majoring in Neuroscience.  I have been a research assistant in the Whiting Lab for three years working with Dr. Michael Whiting and Dr. Seth Bybee.  My research experience includes molecular work with odonate color vision and characterizing numts in mitochondrial genes.  I have been trained in techniques for PCR, DNA sequencing, cloning, and data analysis. I have field experience collecting insects for laboratory research in Utah and Hawaii.   

Dasom Kim

Dasom Kim

I am from South Korea. I am a senior at BYU and majoring Medical Lab Science. I am currently working at the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center as a student medical technologist. In Whitening/Bybee lab, I work as a undergraduate research assistant, and I do PCRs.

David J. Morris

David J. Morris

Senior Undergraduate in Genetics and Biotechnology. I enjoy long walks on the beach, Joss Whedon's Firefly, and doing cool biological research. Current projects include phylogenies for Odonata and Pancrustacea, as well as dabbling in agent-based modeling related to Stomatopoda. 

Michael A. Naegle

Michael A. Naegle

I am a Junior majoring in Biophysics with an expected graduation date of April 2015. I am a research assistant/DNA technician in the Bybee/Whiting lab. I have spent the past three years researching the evolution of ectoparasitism within earwigs through phylogenetics.  I am particularly interested in understanding the evolutionary processes that cause organisms to transition between parasitic and free-living lifestyles. These questions have allowed me the opportunity to travel to Australia, where I had the opportunity to collect specimens along the east coast.  I am expected to publish my findings in the following months as an undergraduate student. 

Yelena Pacheco

Yelena Pacheco

I am currently a junior at Brigham Young University majoring in Exercise Science. I have been a research assistant for the last two semesters in the Whiting Lab at Brigham Young University working for Dr. Bybee. My research experience includes lab work with odinates and lampyrdae. My lab work includes DNA extraction, polymerase chain reactions, and PCR sequencing.

I have received several scholarships for here college career. These include the Agnes Greison Scholarship which was awarded to me as a freshman, and the Sheridan Memorial Hospital Scholarship, which is awarded to students pursuing a career in the medical field. I was also awarded a scholarship from Brigham Young University during the second semester of my sophomore year and the DeLyle and Laurie Bloomquist scholarship my junior year. I have also been a recipient of the Story Lions Club scholarship for the past three years.

I plan on going into the medical field after graduation and greatly enjoy helping others and have been involved with many service programs. I have helped with fundraisers for the Children of Hope Academy, which is a school for autistic adults. The fundraiser provided tuition for the students and raised over four thousand dollars. I also spend time once a week tutoring local children for a Latin outreach program. 



Michael S. Swindle

Michael S. Swindle

I am currently working on developing a phylogenetic tree for fireflies in the lab and working closely with Gavin Martin. I study Physiology and Developmental Biology in school and am in my Junior year. I hope to apply to medical school in the near future and continue to use the analytical skills I've developed from working in the lab. Outside of school, I enjoy CrossFit and playing guitar.

Brooke Viiga

Brooke Viiga

I am a senior at Brigham Young University majoring in Molecular Biology and minoring in mathematics.  I am a recent addition to the Dr. Michael Whiting and Dr. Seth Bybee lab having completed two semesters of mentored research. My research experience includes training in techniques for PCR, DNA sequencing, and data analysis.  I am currently interested in population genetics with lampyridae and expanding my research experience and field work opportunities.