Graduate Students

Robert Cooper’s research focuses on behavioral ecology especially in response to changes in local environment. He seeks to understand how organisms will adapt to increasingly altered habitats caused by anthropogenic involvement. Currently he is interested in how antagonistic species interactions will alter future distributions of lizards throughout California. He is also interested in understanding the effect of environmental conditions on rapidly spreading invasive genes in the endangered California Tiger Salamander. All of his research has an underlying theme of informing management practices and targeting conservation efforts. Robert can be contacted at

Kevin Neal’s current research entails a conservation-focused examination of the western spadefoot toad, Spea hammondii, a species of special concern in California. Using next-gen sequencing techniques, he uses a variety of genetic/genomic methods to examine spatial and environmental patterns of genetic variation within and among spadefoot localities and populations. Kevin has previously worked on conservation genetics of geckos and skinks in New Caledonia. He can be contacted at

Erin Toffelmier is interested in understanding how the environment and landscape features interplay with species’ genetic architectures and population genetic structure. Coupled to this is an interest in how evolutionary process leads to diversity at various levels. For more information, contact Erin at