Catherine E. Wagner, PI

Katie is an evolutionary biologist with broad interests in processes of speciation and diversification. Her research uses population genetic, genomic, phylogenetic, and comparative methods to study diversification, from speciation processes to macroevolutionary patterns of biodiversity.

Katie received her BA in Biology and Geology from Whitman College, and her PhD from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University. She did a postdoc with Ole Seehausen at EAWAG/University of Bern in Switzerland before joining the Biodiversity Institute and the Department of Botany at the University of Wyoming as an assistant professor in Fall 2015. She is the recipient of the 2015 Dobzhansky Prize from the Society for the Study of Evolution.

1187096_654747571202033_1686099654_n copy

Jessica Rick, PhD student

Jessi started her PhD in the Program in Ecology at UW in Fall 2016 after finishing a masters in Integrative Biosciences at the University of Minnesota – Duluth in 2015. She has worked previously on population genetics of insects and wolves, and is now working on the genomics of African Nile Perch in the Wagner Lab. Jessi has been very successful in attaining independent funding for her work, and is the recipient of grants from the Society of Systematic Biologists, the Wyoming Biodiversity Institute, and NASA, among others.


Will Rosenthal, PhD student

Will completed his MS in the Wagner lab at the University of Wyoming in 2021 after finishing a dual BS in Wildlife Studies and Genetics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2018. His undergrad research project focused on genetics of invasive guppies in Hawaii. At the University of Wyoming, Will worked for his MS on the genetics of Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout and its hybridization with introduced rainbow trout. He used genomic data to understand the impacts of genetic ancestry on migration timing, mate choice decisions, and fecundity and survival in the wild. For his PhD, he is expanding in geographic scope and studying range wide patterns in genetic diversity and connectivity for Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout, as part of a large multi-state collaboration. His work is in close collaboration with Annika Walters’ lab.


Alex Lewanski, MS student / Research Technician

Alex defended his MS in the Wagner Lab at the University of Wyoming in Fall 2021. Alex worked on using genomic data to reconstruct history in a case study of cichlid speciation, integrating diverse methods in population genomics and phylogenetics. During his MS Alex also became interested in functional trait diversity and questions in evolutionary community assembly, and after defending his MS he began working as part of the EcoSTOICH project on questions integrating functional and phylogenetic trait diversity in the context of understanding the evolution and functioning of stoichiometric traits. We are thrilled to have him as a continued lab member for one more year after finishing his MS!

Lucia Combrink, MS Student

Lucia began her masters in Fall 2019 after finishing a BA in Biology at Westmont College. She is working on introduced trout populations in alpine lakes in the Wind River Range, seeking to better understand their ecological interactions and investigating adaptation in these populations since their introduction. This project is a collaboration with the Walters, Krist, and Shuman labs, funded by a Science Initiative Seed Grant. Although having grown up in the tropics Wyoming’s cold winters are a novelty for Lucia, she is embracing them fully! Lucia is also very enthusiastic about the extended fieldwork in beautiful alpine Wyoming terrain that her MS project entails.

Rebecca Hinds-Collins, Undergraduate Researcher

Rebecca started working in the lab as a McNair Scholar in summer 2020. She used stomach contents and stable isotopes to analyze diet in trout from two focal lakes in the Wind River Range with populations of golden trout, Yellowstone cutthroat trout, and their hybrids, to test for potential diet partitioning among species and their hybrids. Her work was funded by a Vern Bressler Scholarship. Rebecca presented her research at multiple conferences, including winning the President’s Award for best presentation at the University of Illinois McNair Symposium. This introduction to research in stable isotope analysis led Rebecca to a job at the UW Stable Isotope Facility after her graduation in spring 2021. Although now graduated, Rebecca is still an active member of the lab while she seeks out graduate school opportunities that will allow her to continue her work in the area of stable isotope ecology!


Rosebud, lab mascot

Rosebud joined the world and the lab in 2018, and is enthusiastically learning about ecology, evolution, and being a good puppy. You can follow her adventures here.

See what Lab Alumni are now up to here.