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Greenbaum Laboratory and Students

The Greenbaum Laboratory is fully equipped for evolutionary genetics projects, including a freezer for long-term storage of valuable tissues (with emergency power backup), thermocyclers for PCR, centrifuge and electrophoresis equipment, and a Bio-Rad Gel Doc XR visualizer. DNA sequencing is done "in house" in the DNA Sequencing Core Facility in the adjacent Biosciences Building. The UTEP collection of amphibians and reptiles from Burundi, DR Congo and Uganda includes approximately 10,000 specimens.

Prospective Ph.D. and M.S. students are encouraged to E-MAIL me with a Curriculum Vitae. I am happy to consider students interested in systematics and biogeography of vertebrates in Central Africa. Shown below are students currently active in the lab, and those who have moved on to great things.


Calum Devaney

New doctoral student Calum Devaney (2022–present) joined the lab after completing a Master’s thesis on African snakes with Dr. Aaron Bauer at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. His dissertation will be focused on conservation assessments of reptiles of the Albertine Rift region.



Everett Madsen

New Master's student Everett Madsen (2022–present) joins the Greenbaum lab after researching crocodiles in Belize and radio tracking king cobras in Thailand. His thesis is focused on systematics of African green snakes (Philothamnus).




Teslin Chaney

New Master's student Teslin Chaney (2021–present) joins the Greenbaum lab from Nacogdoches, Texas. Her thesis is focused on the African aquatic snake genus Grayia


Jesus Reyes

Undergraduate student Jesus Reyes (2017–2019) completed a major databasing project for the lab, including sequencing scores of samples of amphibians and reptiles from Kahuzi-Biega National Park in eastern DR Congo. After graduating in 2019, he started an internship at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Jesus is now a post-baccalaureate volunteer in the lab and he recently coauthored a paper describing two new species of Afrixalus.




Eugene Vaughn

Doctoral student Gene Vaughan (2018–present) joined the lab after completing a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Cal Tech. His dissertation will be focused on phylogeography of forest vipers (Bitis) in Central Africa. Gene published an outstanding study about mimicry in 2019.



Mark Teshera

Dr. Mark Teshera (2016–2021) joined the lab after completing a Master's degree at California State University, San Marcos, where he studied American black bears. Mark completed a study of rattlesnake (Crotalus) behavior for his dissertation. Mark published a major review of strike-induced chemosensory searching behavior of viperids in the 2021 issue of Herpetological Monographs. Mark is now an assistant professor at Centre College in Kentucky.



Aaron Robbins

Undergraduate Aaron Robbins (2016–2021) assisted with a massive barcoding project with amphibians and reptiles to help identify hundreds of specimens from recent expeditions to DR Congo and Uganda. Below is one of these species, Leptopelis millsoni.  Aaron is now pursuing a Ph.D. on rotifers with UTEP professor Dr. Elizabeth Walsh.



Morgan Newton

Undergraduate Morgan Newton (2016–2018) worked on a barcoding project with snakes to help identify hundreds of specimens from recent expeditions to DR Congo and Uganda. Below is an unknown species of Letheobia.



Waleeja Rashid

Undergraduate Waleeja Rashid (2013–2017) worked on a collaborative project with burrowing skinks in the genus Melanoseps. Below is a high-resolution x-ray computer tomography image of a specimen from eastern DR Congo. In 2017, Waleeja became a medical student at Ross Medical School- congrats!



Samantha Stewart

Undergraduate Samantha Stewart (2013–2015) worked on several projects with Central African geckos, including a possibly new species related to Hemidactylus ituriensis, shown at right. She graduated in 2015 and is currently a vet student at Oklahoma State University.



Danny Hughes

Dr. Danny Hughes (2013-2018) came all the way from Pennsylvania to work on a dissertation focused on chameleons of the Albertine Rift. His first major publication about neuroanatomy of chameleons was published in PLoS ONE in 2016.  He is now an assistant professor at Coe College in Iowa.



      J. Adan Lara

Master's student J. Adan Lara (2013-2016) defended his thesis on phylogeography of the Natal Puddle Frog (Phrynobatrachus natalensis) in sub-Saharan Africa on 5 May 2016. Additional samples are being analyzed for future publication.



Thornton Larson

Master's student Thornton Larson (2012-2015) completed a thesis project with frogs in the genus Amietia, which was started by Delilah Castro. His work was published in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution in 2016.

Congratulations to Thor for being a 2015 recipient of the Fulbright US Student Program to work on amphibian conservation in Indonesia! Click here for a summary of the project. Thor is now an Assistant Professor at Sul Ross University. Learn More



     Fernanda "Fernie" Medina

Master's student Fernanda "Fernie" Medina (2013-2015) completed her thesis project with African skinks in the genera Afroablepharus/Panaspis. This major undertaking is a continuation of a project she started as an undergraduate researcher in my lab. Her work was published in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution in 2016.  Fernie is now working for a vet in Austin, TX.


Frank.jpg     Frank Portillo

Dr. Frank Portillo (2010-2012) completed a Master's thesis on the systematics of Leptopelis treefrogs from the Itombwe Plateau of eastern Congo. He is a coauthor on a published paper about Leptopelis fiziensis, two first-authored species descriptions were published in 2014 (Leptopelis anebos is shown below), and a major first-authored phylogenetic analysis of Leptopelis from the Albertine Rift was published in 2015. Frank completed a dissertation on atractaspidine & aparallactine snake systematics in 2017, and many publications have since been published on this massive project.  Frank is currently teaching at El Paso Community College. 


ChrisAtImager.jpg     Chris Anderson

In November 2011, M.S. student Chris Anderson (2009-2011) defended his thesis, "Phylogeography of northern populations of the black-tailed rattlesnake (Crotalus molossus Baird and Girard, 1853), with the revalidation of C. ornatus Hallowell, 1854". Chris was awarded the 2011 Outstanding Master's Thesis in Biology for his work, which was published in Herpetological Monographs in 2012. His photograph was featured on the cover. Chris is pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of New Mexico.


Katrina.jpg     Katrina Dash

On 18 November 2010, Katrina Dash (formerly Katrina Weber, 2008-2010) defended her thesis, "Systematics of the genus Ptychadena Boulenger, 1917 (Anura: Ptychadenidae) from Democratic Republic of the Congo." Katrina was awarded the 2010 Outstanding Master's Thesis in Biology for her work. Her work was published in a collaborative study in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution in 2016.




Nancy Conkey

Undergraduate student Nancy Conkey (2010-2013) completed work on a major project about the evolutionary genetics of the African toad genus Sclerophrys, and she assisted with the Afrixalus project as well. She recently graduated from vet school and is now practicing in El Paso.


RachelRomero.jpg     Rachel "Soraya" Romero

Undergraduate student Rachel Romero (2011-2012) completed a project with Afrixalus treefrogs. She currently lives in Silver City and produces the Podcast Wild Roots, which interviewed me in spring 2019- listen to the podcast HERE.  



Cesar Barron

Undergraduate student Cesar Barron (2009-2011) completed a project on forest cobras in the genus Naja. A collaborative paper on the systematics of forest cobras was pubished in Zootaxa. At last check, Cesar was working on a medical degree.



Delilah Castro

Undergraduate student Delilah Castro (2010) completed a project on the phylogeny of frogs in the genus Amietia. Master's student Thornton Larson expanded her work, which was published in 2016. Delilah is currently working as a health inspector in Salem, MA.




Cesar Villanueva

Undergraduate student Cesar Villanueva (2008-2010) completed a major project on the systematics of Central African lacertid lizards. He is a coauthor on a paper describing a new genus and species (Congolacerta asukului photo below.) of lacertid from the Itombwe highlands of Congo. At last check he was working on his MBA at UTEP.


FedericoAtHood.jpg     Federico Valdez

Undergraduate student Federico Valdez (2009-2010) completed a project on the phylogeography of Peruvian geckos, and is a coauthor on a published paper on Hyperolius castaneus phylogeography. He recently completed a Ph.D. with UTEP professor Dr. Manuel Llano. Federico is now pursuing a postdoc at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center.