The Muchhala Lab
University of Missouri - St. Louis
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Nathan Muchhala
(Principal Investigator)

     Ph.D. University of Miami, USA
     B.A. Earlham College, USA

Curriculum Vitae

muchhalan [at]

Justin Bagley
(Postdoctoral Researcher)

     Ph.D. Brigham Young University, USA
     M.Sc. University of Alabama, USA
     B.S. University of Alabama, USA

Justin is an evolutionary biologist whose interests include phylogeography, population genomics, adaptation, species delimitation, and integrative taxonomy. He is working on our NSF-funded project on Burmeistera, using phylogenomics and evolutionary ecology to study the roles of pollination and post-pollination reproductive barriers during the adaptive radiation of the genus. Prior to UMSL, Justin studied speciation and adaptation genomics of southwestern white pine (Pinus strobiformis).

bagleyj [at]
Camilo Calderón-Acevedo
(Ph.D. Student)

     B.S. Universidad de Antioquia, Colombia

Camilo is interested in the diversification, evolution and biogeography of mammals.  He is currently working on the taxonomy and systematics of the genus Anoura (Chiroptera: Phyllostomidae).

cackcb [at]

Diana Gamba
(Ph.D. Student)

     M.Sc. San Francisco State University, USA
     B.S. Universidad del Valle, Colombia

Diana is interested in studying mechanisms of population differentiation in flowering plants. For her PhD she is studying the mechanisms that lead to disruption of gene flow and allopatric speciation.  For multiple species in northern Ecuador, she is analyzing data on the effects of asynchronic flowering phenology and pollinator shifts on population genetic structure. 

dlgtk5 [at]

Serena Achá
(Ph.D. Student)

     B.S. Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, Bolivia

Serena is interested in angiosperm systematics and evolution.  She has worked with Rosaceae, Myrtaceae and Andean flora in general. Serena is co-advised by Peter Jorgensen of the Missouri Botanical Garden, and is currently working with Passiflora subgenus Decaloba, trying to disentangle the phylogeny, diversification patterns and species limits in this group.

sia7vc [at]

Juan Moreira
(Ph.D. Student)

     M.Sc. Universidad de Costa Rica, Costa Rica
     B.S. Universidad de Costa Rica, Costa Rica

Juan is interested in the ecology and evolution of animal-mediated pollination and seed dispersal systems. He has previously worked on the reproductive ecology of Virola (Neotropical nutmegs) and their dispersal by toucans and spider monkeys. For his PhD, he will explore the role of pollinator sharing and competition through interspecific pollen transfer during the rapid diversification of the bat-pollinated Neotropical genus Burmeistera, in terms of how they influence patterns of floral phenotypic divergence, population differentiation, and species coexistence.

juan.moreira [at]

Brock Mashburn
(M.Sc. Student)

     B.S. Truman State University, USA

Brock is interested in plant evolutionary biology, systematics, biogeography, and the application of these fields to conservation actions. For his Masters degree, he is updating the monograph of the Burmeistera of Ecuador which was published in 1981. This includes updating species ranges and descriptions, describing new species, and writing a key. He also has a side-project looking at the population genetics of the critically endangered Mascarene Hibiscus.

 btmfkb [at]

Alex Lascher-Posner
(Ph.D. Student)

     B.S. University of California, San Diego, USA

Alex is interested in studying the evolutionary shifts between bat and hummingbird pollinated plant species across Campanulaceae.  Specifically, he is looking at how quickly pollination syndrome traits are acquired and which traits are necessary to elicit a shift in pollinators and which are just 'fine tuning'.  He plans to do his research in Ecuador and Costa Rica.

aelwqb [at]

Rieka Yu
(Ph.D. Student)

     B.S. Boston University, USA

Rieka is interested in the the effect of habitat destruction on bat pollination and seed dispersal systems. For her Ph.D. she plans to study the implications of these changes on the ecosystem.

rymcf [at]
Lab Alumni

Laura Lagomarsino
(Postdoctoral Researcher, 2015-2017)

     Ph.D. Harvard, USA
     B.S. University of California - Berkeley, USA

Laura studies the taxonomy, phylogeny, and evolution of the Neotropical Lobelioideae, specifically the centropogonid clade (Centropogon, Siphocampylus, and Burmeistera). She is interested in patterns of character evolution, particularly of floral morphology in relation to pollinator shifts, and in diversification and biogeography in the context of Andean uplift. Laura is now an Assistant Professor at Lousiana State University.  Find out more about her research at

llagomarsino1 [at]

Simon Uribe-Convers
(Postdoctoral Researcher, 2015-2017)

     Ph.D. University of Idaho, USA
     B.Sc. Universidad de los Andes, Colombia

Simon is an evolutionary biologist interested in phylogenomics, plant systematics, and speciation. He has a special interest in evolutionary processes in high elevation ecosystem in the Andes, where high rates  of diversification and intricate biogeographic movements have produced the high diversity that we see today. He is now a Data Scientist at Phylagen; you can visit his website here.

uribe.convers [at]

Mónica Carlsen
(Postdoctoral Researcher, 2014-15)

     Ph.D. Univ. of Missouri - St. Louis, USA
     M.Sc. Univ. of Missouri - St. Louis, USA
     B.S. Universidad Central de Venezuela

Monica worked on the molecular phylogenetics of Burmeistera.  She is broadly interested in the phylogenomics of rapid tropical plant radiations and the causes of diversity disparities among tropical regions. She is currently an Assistant Scientist and Education Coordinator at the Missouri Botanical Garden; you can visit her website here.  

monica.carlsen [at]

Mayra Ninazunta
(M.Sc. Student, 2015-17)

     B.S. Pontificia Univ. Católica del Ecuador, Ecuador

Mayra is interested in the role of reproductive isolation in the diversification of plants.  She completed a non-thesis Master's degree at UMSL.

mayra.ninazunta [at]

Nick Terzich
(Undergraduate, 2017-18)


Nick worked with Juan on studies of the reproductive isolation between co-occurring species of Burmeistera. Specifically, they tested how interspecific pollen transfer affects seed production among hand-pollinated flowers.

ndt5z6 [at]

Rossana Maguiña
(M.Sc. Student, 2014-16)

     B.S. Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Peru

Rossana is interested in bat-plant interactions in montane forest ecosystems.  For her Master's project, she studied the effects of artificial nectar feeders on these interactions. She is currently a PhD student at the University of California - Santa Cruz; visit her new lab here.

nrm5h4 [at]

Stephanie Mafla-Mills
(Undergraduate, 2015-16)


Stephanie worked on a project exploring the relationship between jaw morphology and diet in nectar-feeding bats, and helped Rossana with her fieldwork.  She is now a PhD student at Rutgers University.

sjmyb4 [at]
Lab Member Sightings in the Wild:

Fieldwork in Ecuador 2017

High School Outreach 2017

Bat Capture in UMSL! 2017

Fieldwork in Bolivia 2016

Talk at Indiana Bat Festival 2016

'Bat Cave' Setup 2015

Greenhouse Burmeistera 2015

Labwork 2015

Fieldwork in Ecuador 2014

Lab Meeting 2014

North American Symposium on Bat Research 2014