Undergraduate researchers

Farid Alsalek is a recent UCLA undergraduate with a B.S in psychobiology (2020), with a strong interest in evolutionary biology. He is assisting Dr. Bucciarelli with an investigation of the genomic mechanisms of venom production, as well as working with him on a study of toxin development and coevolution, which he will continue during his gap year before beginning dental school.
Pranav Bellur is a rising junior at UCLA majoring in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution. He joined the Shaffer Lab in July as an undergraduate research assistant, and has been helping out with ongoing conservation projects by carrying out DNA extractions, running agarose gels, organizing/processing data, and related activities, particularly with our western pond turtle research. His time at the lab so far has provided for “a fantastic learning experience and has helped put me on the path towards pursuing a research career in wildlife biology”.
Tatum Delaney is a sophomore majoring in Environmental Science with a minor in Conservation Biology. Starting Fall 2021, she will be joining the Shaffer lab and working with UCLA La Kretz postdoc Joscha Beninde and undergraduate Germar Gonzalez to estimate population abundances of twenty species of plants and animals across the LA Basin, enabling a better understanding of the relationship between genetic health and population sizes of these species. In her free time, she enjoys doing ecological restoration work on Sage Hill and volunteering in the UCLA Herbarium.
Germar Gonzalez is a rising senior at UCLA majoring in Ecology, Behavior and Evolution and minoring in Latin American Studies. Germar has been on the meta-analysis team since March 2020. He is currently working with UCLA La Kretz postdoc Joscha Beninde and undergraduage Tatum Delaney on estimating local abundances for twenty species across the LA Basin to identify correlates between spatial distribution and genetic variation. In the future, he hopes to focus on conservation-based research that bridges social and ecological issues.
Hannah Pham is a fourth-year Biology major and Global Health minor at UCLA. She has been working on the compilation and analysis of genetic data of native Californian species for the California meta-analysis project since March 2020. She is studying to become a wildlife conservation veterinarian.
Molly Posta is a third year Marine Biology major at UCLA. She has been involved with the California meta-analysis project since March 2020. She also spent the summer of 2021 assisting UCLA La Kretz postdoc Dave Daversa with ongoing research surrounding disease ecology in the endangered Yosemite toad. Following graduation, Molly plans to work in marine wildlife rehabilitation before eventually pursuing a career in marine resource conservation.


Meryl Slay is a UCLA graduate (anticipated Summer 2021) with a Marine Biology major and Conservation minor. She began working in the Shaffer lab in December 2019 on the meta-analysis team and as of June 2021, has joined the conservation genomic DNA research group as a turtle tissue wrangler. In the future, Meryl plans to pursue graduate studies in wildlife conservation at the intersection of science and policy. Her new favorite hobby is noosing lizards.
Bethany Woo will be a rising junior in Fall 2021. She is pursuing double majors in Marine Biology and Environmental Science and hopes to further develop her passion for conservation through the Shaffer Lab and graduate school. Currently, she is assisting UCLA postdoc Robert Cooper in studying hybridization between the native California Tiger and nonnative Barred Tiger Salamanders in the Sonoma population. In her free time she enjoys swimming, learning new languages, and reading historical fiction.