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.


Jimena Golcher-Benavides, PhD student

Jimena began working towards her PhD in the Program in Ecology at the University of Wyoming in Fall 2015. She comes to the lab with extensive background in tropical biology, particularly fieldwork in her native Costa Rica and in Nicaragua. She received an MS from the University of Konstanz, Germany, prior to coming to UW. Jimena has managed and led an impressive amount of fieldwork, and also has gained funding for her work from the Society for the Study of Evolution, among other sources.

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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, MS student

Will started his masters in Fall 2018 after finishing a dual BS in Wildlife Studies and Genetics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He undergrad research project focused on genetics of invasive guppies in Hawaii. At the University of Wyoming, Will is working on the genetics of Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout and its hybridization with introduced rainbow trout. He is using genomic data to understand the impacts of genetic ancestry on migration timing, mate choice decisions, and fecundity and survival in the wild. This project is a close collaboration with Annika Walters’ lab.


Alex Lewanski, MS student

Alex began his masters in Fall 2018 after finishing a BA in Biology at Macalaster College. Alex has broad interests in ecology and evolutionary biology, and for his masters is applying these interests to the study of Tanganikan cichlids. He is using genomic data to better understand the origin of cichlid species. As a native Minnesotan, Alex is also enjoying the novelty of having mountains as neighbors.

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.


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.