Meet the people of the Oxy Comp Bio Lab.


Amanda Zellmer – Assistant Professor | @ajzellmer

Amanda Zellmer’s research focuses on the utility and development of computational methods for studying spatial ecological and evolutionary processes, particularly in the context of conservation biology. Her research uses an integrative approach combining computational analyses with next-generation sequencing, field observations, and experimental data to address questions in spatial ecology, landscape genetics, and phylogeography. The main computational methods used in her research include Machine Learning techniques, including Species Distribution Modeling, Least-Cost Path and Resistance Modeling, and Multivariate Analyses and Model Selection. Her work is primarily focused on amphibians, although also includes many other types of organisms such as carnivorous pitcher plants, rocky reef fish and invertebrates, birds, and humans.


Susan Piacenza – Postdoctoral Researcher | @susiepiacenza

Susan Piacenza’s research uses quantitative methods to provide solutions for marine conservation problems. Her particular interests include population resilience and species recovery, evaluation of population dynamics that result from individual-based ecology, and integration of tools and methods to understand responses to global change and management strategies. By focusing on conservation success stories, it is possible to find ways to apply them to find solutions for communities and species still at risk. Susan has worked in a variety of systems: the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. West Coast and Hawaii, and has studied a variety of taxa: echinoderms, mollusks, fishes and sea turtles. Her Ph.D. research specifically focused on models to improve how the US ESA threatened species, green sea turtles, are monitored to increase the accuracy of population assessments. Susan’s current research includes determining predictors of reef fish biomass throughout the Southern California Bight and using species distribution models to identify optimal placement of manmade reefs.

Susan Piacenza

Chelsea Williams – Graduate Student

Chelsea is currently a graduate student at Cal Poly Pomona studying spatial patterns in the life history and demography of the Garibaldi, the California state marine fish. Her research interests include kelp forest ecology, fish biology, marine conservation, long-term monitoring, spatial ecology, and marine habitat restoration.


Devon DeRaad – Undergraduate Researcher | @dev_der

Devon is currently working on a project using Species Distribution Models to test for environmental niche divergence versus conservation in Mexican Scrub Jays. He has also studied habitat preferences of California Newts, Taricha torosa, in the San Gabriel Mountains.


Tatum Katz – Undergraduate Researcher | @realcoolkatz

Tatum’s main research project is focused on using Model Selection to evaluate various models of probability of spread for the emerging, invasive fungal salamander pathogen, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans.


Atif Malik – Undergraduate Researcher | @abaloneatif

Atif is currently developing a protocol for combining Species Distribution Modeling with eDNA sampling to enable locating rare abalone in Southern California.


Marjorie Morales – Undergraduate Researcher | @gammacas

Marjorie’s main research interest is in developing and evaluating methods for improving diversity and inclusivity in undergraduate STEM programs. She has developed the website as a resource for faculty and students in STEM programs at Liberal Arts institutions.


Grant Uba – Undergraduate Researcher | @grant_uba

Grant studies divergence in Slender Salamander species. He has been using museum specimens at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County to inform Species Distribution Modeling of the ~15 species in the Batrachoseps complex. His research has demonstrated that environment predicts genetic divergence.


New Students:

  • Roshni Katrak-Adefowora
  • Claire Shellem
  • Pavlina Slezak


  • Zoe Goozner
  • Louis Jochems
  • Alex Roeper
  • Stuart Schwab