Gaylord Donnelley Postdoctoral Associates

Catherine Hernandez

Catherine Hernandez, Ph.D.

Research description: Catherine Hernandez is generally interested in how environmental change will alter microbial interactions. Just like in macroorganisms, microorganismal physiology and fitness are impacted by abiotic factors, and their ecology and evolution will be shaped by global change. At Yale, Catherine will be particularly focused on how temperature impacts the interactions between environmental bacteria and the bacteriophage (phage) viruses that infect them. Catherine will be using observational and experimental evolution approaches to study geographic patterns of thermal responses, the relationship between viral host range and thermal performance, and how virus populations adapt to changing temperatures. These results will provide insight into how temperature can alter microbial community composition, trait evolution, and the structure of microbial networks. Given the important role of phages in structuring microbial communities, this work has implications for predictions of climate change impacts on microbially-mediated ecosystem processes like nutrient cycling.

Fellowship dates: September 2021 – August 2023

Armita Manafzadeh

Armita Manafzadeh, Ph.D.

Research description: Armita is interested in the evolution and development of vertebrate animal form and function. She integrates approaches from biomechanics, paleontology, computer animation, and experimental biology to better understand how synovial joints (like hips and knees) work. At Yale, Armita will be exploring how her research can interface with ecology by studying ecomorphological diversification through a joint-focused lens.

Fellowship dates: July 2022 – June 2024

Nohemi Huanca-Nunez

Nohemi Huanca-Nuñez, Ph.D.

Research description: Nohemi’s research focuses on plant ecology, plant-animal interactions, and the understanding of mechanisms driving species diversity, distribution, and forest regeneration after natural and human disturbances. At Yale, Nohemi will be focused on the interaction between above-ground and below-ground functionality and the role of root traits in shaping composition in tree communities recovering from human disturbance.

Fellowship dates: August 2022 – July 2024

Sina Rometsch

Sina Rometsch, Ph.D.

Research description: Sina is interested in understanding the dynamics of reproductive isolation in adaptive radiations. At YIBS, her research will focus on elucidating the environmental drivers of speciation in a radiation of anole lizards from the island of Hispaniola. Connecting species’ ecology with population genomic, behavioral and developmental approaches, she aims at determining how environmental gradients affect population divergence and the progression towards complete reproductive isolation.

Fellowship dates: November 2022 – October 2024

Heather LeClerc

Heather LeClerc, Ph.D.

Research description: Heather’s research harnesses her background in both chemistry and chemical engineering to understand the fundamental chemical reactions that inhibit the wide-scale realization of green energy technologies. Due to the prevalence of lignin as a byproduct of ethanol and paper production, Heather will focus her efforts on determining limiting factors in lignin depolymerization and subsequent repolymerization into useful platform chemicals and even synthetic wood.   

Fellowship dates: July 2023 – June 2025

Hannah Greenwald Healy

Hannah Greenwald Healy, Ph.D.

Research description: Hannah Greenwald Healy received her B.S. in Environmental Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. Hannah’s doctoral research focused on health-relevant microorganisms in engineered water systems, including opportunistic pathogens in drinking water plumbing and SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater. As a YIBS Gaylord Donnelley Postdoctoral Associate, Hannah will study abiotic and biotic factors influencing the biodiversity, resilience to invasion, and antibiotic resistance of biofilms, with a focus on biofilms in healthcare settings. 

Fellowship dates: August 2023 – July 2025 

Katlin Schroeder

Katlin Schroeder, Ph.D.

Research description: Katlin Schroeder studies the effects of extreme body size on the community ecology, diversity, and behavior of non-avian dinosaurs. Her research includes large data analysis of dinosaur body size diversity across spatial scales, the role of juvenile megatheropods in the structuring of dinosaur communities, the evolution of skull structure in tyrannosauroids, and the dietary ecology of tyrannosaurids through ontogeny.  

Fellowship dates: August 2023 – July 2025 

Maya LaGrange Rao

Maya LaGrange Rao, Ph.D.

Research description: Maya’s research focus lies at the intersection of geobiology and geochemistry; in particular, she is interested in understanding past marine conditions through bioturbation and chemical proxies recorded in sedimentary rocks. By comparing the trace fossil assemblages of ancient coastal rock units to present-day coastal sediments, Maya’s work at Yale will investigate the response of shoreline burrowing animals to changes in temperature. 

Fellowship dates: September 2023 – August 2025