Current Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Hopi HoekstraHopi E. Hoekstra




Twitter: @hopihoekstra


Download CV


Hopi received her B.A. in Integrative Biology from UC Berkeley. She completed her Ph.D. in 2000 as a Howard Hughes Predoctoral Fellow at the University of Washington. She then moved to the University of Arizona as a NIH Postdoctoral Fellow where she studied the genetic basis of adaptive melanism in pocket mice. In 2003, she became an Assistant Professor at UC San Diego. Three years later, she moved to Harvard University, where she is the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology in the Department of Organismic & Evolutionary Biology and the Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology as well as the Curator of Mammals at the Museum of Comparative Zoology. She is broadly interested in the genetic basis of adaptation and speciation in vertebrates.



Administrative Assistant

Nikki HughesNikki Hughes




Nikki capably manages the administrative and logistical side of running the lab, coordinating paperwork and purchasing, and generally keeping things running smoothly in the lab.





Lab Manager

Kyle TurnerKyle Turner




Kyle received his B.Sc. at the University of Toronto, completing honors theses with Art Weis and Megan Frederickson. For his M.Sc., he stayed on in the Frederickson Lab, studying how diet and a protein kinase affected cooperation between plant-defending ants and their hosts. After graduation, Kyle worked in the lab of Naomi Pierce at Harvard, as research assistant to Sarah Kocher, a Hoekstra Lab postdoc. Now, Kyle works as an assistant to students and postdocs in the Hoekstra Lab, and facilitates lab projects.



Postdoctoral Researchers

Andres Bendesky and Julio BendeskyAndrés Bendesky




Twitter: @bendesky


Andrés Bendesky received his M.D. from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and then completed his Ph.D. in Cori Bargmann’s laboratory at The Rockefeller University in New York, where he studied the genetics of social behavior in nematodes. He joined the lab in January of 2012. Andrés is interested in the genetic and neural basis of individuality, and is using Peromyscus with different social systems as a model. He is currently funded by a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellowship.


PeromyscusCaroline Hu




Caroline received her B.S. from Brown University in 2006. She began studying the molecular and cellular basis of behavior in the context of the developing frog brain while pursuing her M.S. at the University of Michigan. She earned her Ph.D. in Biology with Russell Fernald at Stanford University as a Stanford Graduate Fellow in 2014. For her doctoral research, Caroline investigated the neural mechanisms underlying behavioral plasticity within a single fish species. In the Hoekstra lab, Caroline will use the Peromyscus model to ask how molecular differences between separate species produce differences in brain and behavior, with a particular focus on burrowing behavior.


Sarah KocherJean-Marc Lassance




Twitter: @lassancejm


Jean-Marc obtained his M.S. in Bioengineering from the Agricultural University of Gembloux in Belgium in 2004. He completed his Ph.D. in Ecology, which won the Best Thesis Prize in the Faculty of Natural Sciences, at Lund University (Sweden) in 2010. In his dissertation research, he studied the molecular basis of pheromone production and reception in the European corn borer moth, a model to study speciation by means of pheromone divergence. His research interests are centred on understanding the role of olfaction in speciation. Here, Jean-Marc exploits the current knowledge of the molecular basis of mouse olfaction to study pheromone reception in wild populations of deer mice. He is jointly supervised by Catherine Dulac. He is a Belgian American Educational Foundation (BAEF) Fellow and is funded by an EMBO and a HFSP Postdoctoral Fellowship.


Ricardo MallarinoRicardo Mallarino




Ricardo received his B.Sc. from Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia and he recently completed his PhD at Harvard University. In his dissertation he combined gene expression analysis of natural bird populations, mathematical analysis of shapes, and functional tests in chick embryos to understand the molecular and developmental mechanisms patterning different craniofacial morphology in birds. Ricardo joined the lab to pursue his interest in evolutionary-developmental biology. For his project, he combines  developmental genetics and genomic approaches to study pigmentation patterns in mammals. Ricardo is also a finalist for the Life Sciences Resarch Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship.



Graduate Students

FelixFelix Baier



Twitter: @felix_baier


Felix received undergraduate degrees in biology (2011) and philosophy (2013) from the University of Munich in Germany, and a Master's degree from Columbia University (2012). Before joining the Hoekstra Lab in 2014, he investigated the molecular basis and evolution of mosquito preference for humans with Leslie Vosshall at Rockefeller University. He also studied the genetic basis of C. elegans aggregation behavior with Mario de Bono at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in England. Felix is also an avid herpetologist, and has worked extensively on the amphibians and reptiles of Cyprus. In the Hoekstra Lab, he is interested in the molecular basis and evolution of behavioral variation in Peromyscus, with a particular focus on aggression. Felix received Harvard's Herchel Smith Graduate Fellowship. 


Nicole BedfordNicole Bedford



Twitter: @nlbedford


Download CV


Nicole received her B.Sc. in Marine Biology from the University of British Columbia in 2010. There, she completed her honours thesis with Dolph Schluter examining the genetic basis of ecological traits under divergent selection in threespine stickleback. In collaboration with Katie Peichel and colleagues, she also worked to identify regions of the genome responsible for behaviours leading to reproductive isolation in stickleback species pairs. After graduation, she worked with David Reznick and others investigating eco-evolutionary feedbacks in Trinidadian guppies. Nicole is excited to be joining the Hoekstra Lab in the Fall 2012 where she hopes to study the genetics of adaptation and speciation in Peromyscus. Nicole was awarded Harvard's James Mills Peirce Fellowship. 


Jake GableJake Gable




Jake received his BS in Zoology from Washington State University. As an undergraduate, he worked with Dr. William Snyder studying biodiversity in ecosystem functioning, with a focus on insect predator diversity. After graduating, Jake worked with Dr. Harmit Malik at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA. In the Malik lab, Jake studied the molecular evolution of retroelement and viral restriction factors in primates with an emphasis on how pathogens have shaped the evolution of host restriction factors like APOBEC3A. In the Hoekstra lab, Jake hopes to study the genetics of adaptation and the evolution of behavior. 


Emily HagerEmily Hager




Emily graduated from Swarthmore College in 2010, with a degree in physics and a strong interest in biology. Before coming to Harvard, she worked with Elly Nedivi at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory. There, she studied CPG2, an activity-regulated gene involved in the modulation of synaptic strength. Emily joined the lab in 2014. She received Harvard's Theodore H. Ashford Graduate Fellowship in the Sciences. 


Caitlin Lewarch




Caitlin graduated from Harvard College in 2010 with an AB in Human Evolutionary Biology. As an undergraduate in Peter Ellison's laboratory she investigated the effects of early life environment on adult metabolism and did fieldwork in the Gambia. She later conducted research on the effects of nutrient restriction on gene expression in C. elegans and the influence of a postnatal stress on behavior in laboratory mice. In the Hoekstra lab she plans to study nest-building behavior in two species of Peromyscus with different mating systems.


Hillery C. Metz




Download CV


Hillery graduated summa cum laude in 2006, with a dual degree in Biology and Microbiology from the University of Idaho. As an undergraduate, she studied the neurobiology of working memory in Kathy Magnusson's lab. After graduating, she worked for two years in Susan Wray's lab at the National Institutes of Health, where she studied the development and migration of GnRH cells, neurons that control reproduction in vertebrates. Hillery joined the lab in 2009 with a NSF Predoctoral Fellowship and is currently working on understanding the neurobiological basis of burrowing behavior in Peromyscus. She was recently awarded Chapman Research funds and a NSF Doctoral Dissertation Grant.


Brock Wooldridge


Brock received his BS in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution (2014) and MS in Biology (2015) from UC San Diego. Working in the lab of Dr. Joshua Kohn, he studied the impact of human disturbance on sandy beach invertebrate communities, and used a DNA Barcoding approach to investigate cryptic diversity in polychaete worms. Brock has been awarded a James Mills Peirce Fellowship from Harvard and joined the lab in 2015.