Lab Members




 Martin Turcotte

Martin Turcotte

Dept. of Biological Sciences, 203 Clapp Hall, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh PA 15260-3929

Twitter: @Exp_EvoEco

I am fascinated by evolutionary change. The extent and complexity of adaptions as well as the speed at which evolution can occur is truly remarkable. My research experimentally test how such evolution is driven by and is a driver of ecological dynamics and species interactions. 

My scientific career began at McGill studying adaptation in green algae and on stickleback gene flow in British Columbia. I then joined David Reznick and Daniel Hare at the University of California Riverside for my Ph.D. There using experimental evolution in the field, I showed that rapid aphid evolution significantly alters concurrent population dynamics. In 2011, I began a postdoc with Marc Johnson at the University of Toronto at Mississauga working on plant-herbivore interactions and plant domestication. In 2014, I joined Jonathan Levine’s lab as an independent ACE postdoc at ETH in Zurich Switzerland working on the impacts of phenotypic plasticity and species coexistence. There I began working on Duckweed as a model system for Evolutionary Community Ecology. In 2017 I joined Pitt as an Assistant Professor where I intend to share my love of evolutionary-ecology with the current and next generations.

Jiaqi Tan -  -  - Postdoctoral Researcher


Twitter: @tan_jiaqi


I recently joined the Turcotte lab to study eco-evolutionary dynamics in duckweed communities.  I finished my PhD with Lin Jiang at the Georgia Institute of Technology and then worked at Georgia Tech as a research scientist.  I am generally interested in the causes and consequences of biodiversity over evolutionary timescales.  My previous research, using freshwater microbial communities,examined the effectsof species phylogenetic relatedness on species interactions and explored the ecological determinants of adaptive radiation.

Taylor Zallek -  -  -PhD Student

 Taylor in black, befuddled by an astute question from a young scientist.


Twitter: @taylorzallek

I am interested in understanding how rapid changes in evolutionary and ecological contexts shape novel communities. I completed my B.A. in Biology at St. John’s University and examined the potentially synergistic relationship between invasive shrubs and invasive earthworms in deciduous forests of central Minnesota. From there I assisted on a number of projects in the Florida Keys assessing the impact invasive red lionfish have on native reef fish communities. I completed my M.S. at Michigan Tech where I researched patterns of hybridization, genetic diversity, and intraspecific performance among populations of the invasive aquatic plant Eurasian watermilfoil before joining the Turcotte lab in August 2018!


Joshua Armstrong -  -  - Research Technician

 Josh sampling duckweed

Josh sampling duckweed

I have always been very intrigued with ecology and evolution. I graduated from Penn State Behrend in 2015 with a degree in Biology with a focus in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. Yes, I am a huge Penn State fan and I bleed blue and white but I also think Pitt is a great university. While I was undergrad, I did research on bacterial communities in wetlands and I also worked on an insect genetic barcoding research project. Aside from biology, I’m a huge nerd and I love music. I’ve lived in Western PA my whole life and really excited to do field work all over the surrounding area. I am really excited to be part of this lab and really enjoy helping research duckweed both in the lab and the field.

Undergraduate Researchers


David Conover

I'm a Junior Molecular Biology Major-Biochemistry focus at Pitt with an interest in field research and adventure. I spend most of my time outside either hiking, biking, or fishing.

 David Conover

Lillian Leak

I’m a sophomore biology major with a love for botany and ecology, and I have what some call too many field guides and plant books. On hiking trips I always stop to identify wildlife and take lots of pictures. I also like reading fantasy, drawing, music, and being outdoors in general.


Julie EvereTt

I am a Junior at Pitt majoring in Ecology and Evolution and working towards completing my GIS certificate. I have been interested in ecology all my life, and have fond memories of finding salamanders in the woods to play with when I was little, an endeavor I still enjoy today. Aside from my studies, I am also a member of the University of Pittsburgh Varsity Marching Band, and enjoy spending my down time playing videogames or binge-watching Netflix.


Swapna Subramanian

I am an Ecology and Evolution/Anthropology double major, and I think evolution is super cool. I intern at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in the Herpetology Department, and I previously did research on salamander diets, specifically species in the Plethodontidae family. I run a wildlife photography Instagram account called @ecologyiscool (shameless plug) and also like reading fantasy novels and annoying my friends with ecology/evolution facts constantly.


Julia Kerstetter

I am a senior Ecology and Evolution major at the University of Pittsburgh. I grew up on a small organic farm that also raised goats. In third grade, I had to explain to my teacher that I was missing half a page of homework because a goat ate it. I am overly passionate about vegetables, coffee, and good/bad puns. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, running, reading, and turning my kitchen into a cooking “laboratory”.


 Huxley not impressed by the Aletsch Glacier in Switzerland.

Huxley not impressed by the Aletsch Glacier in Switzerland.

Lab mascot and collector of rubs and treats. 





This could be you  --> Join the Lab


Former Lab Members

Ashley Morris: Former undergraduate researcher (2017-2018); PhD at Stony Brook University with Jessica Gurevitch