The Team

Principal Investigator

Dr. Sushma Reddy


Sushma's research focuses on the evolution of birds.  blah blah...


Lab Technician

Sarah Sharief
I am  a senior majoring in Biology with a Molecular Emphasis at Loyola University. Post-graduation, I aspire to a physician specializing in either internal medicine or pathology (haven't decided yet!) I have been working in the Reddy lab for almost a year and find the work that we do in lab both interesting and relevant to what I've learned at Loyola in the past three years. I believe that this research is vital and I am excited to make a contribution to the study of biodiversity. I also am minoring in Asian Languages and Literatures at Loyola. My personal goal is to be able to converse fluently in at least five languages one day. I am 40% there! =)

Student Researchers

John Juranek
John is from Des Plaines, Il, and is a Junior majoring in Biology. He aspires to become a paleontologist, a dream he has had since he was three. By researching the evolution of birds, John hopes to understand how the descendants of dinosaurs radiated into their present forms. His goal whilst working in this lab is to grow in his understanding of how evolution has resulted in the myriad of species which share our planet. John also enjoys swing and blues dancing, rock climbing, hiking, camping, photography, movies and television, and video games.


I am originally from Dayton, OH and just recently graduated as a senior bioinformatics major at Loyola University Chicago.  After graduation, I was fortunate enough to receive a Fulbright Grant to Vietnam! There, I will be studying biogeographical distributions of babbler species. Eventually, I hope to attain my PhD in evolutionary studies.  I am interested in studying phylogenetics in order assess issues such as species concepts and distribution patterns.  The lab work done in the Reddy lab interests me because I have always had a passion for learning about animals and nature.  I hope to be able to gain significant experience to prepare me for a career in studying biodiversity.  In my free time, I enjoy hiking, bike riding, swimming...anything outside! I love being in Chicago and exploring the city.  I also am passionate about running and ran the Chicago Marathon last year.  10.10.10!

Mike Hanson
I am a senior undergraduate majoring in philosophy and biology at Loyola University Chicago. I am currently working in Dr. Reddy's lab to explore my interests in evolutionary biology and to gain research experience before graduate school. I have been interested in birds and evolution for as long as I have known about them. Among my other interests are philosophy, drawing, painting, scientific illustration, palaeontology, history, and traveling.

Ted Vlahos

I am a junior majoring in Bioinformatics and Economics at Loyola University Chicago. I desire to attend graduate school focusing my studies in the field of Virology. The concentration on evolutionary genetics drew me to Dr. Reddy's lab and I cannot wait to contribute to the team. On a a personal note, I am an avid basketball junkie, playing or watching the sport whenever I am able. I am also currently training for the Florida Ironman Triathlon in 2012.

Bushra Alam

I am a junior and Loyola University majoring in Biology and History. I would like to attend medical school in the next few years and hope to pursue a career in Pediatrics. I was drawn to this lab because I would like to expand my knowledge on biogeography and evolution and I am excited to learn more. I also think that the research environment facilitates many important skills, especially organization. I am a huge basketball fan! I also love studying African and Asian history especially in relation to human rights and politics. I love listening to music, watching movies, and dancing.

Mark Wojdyla


I am a sophomore student at Loyola University Chicago, majoring in Biology and minoring in Emergency Medical Services.  In the years to come I hope to study Emergency Medicine once my years at Loyola are done.  Recently drawn to the lab after hearing of its compelling work, I am eager to supplement the lab with my own efforts for years to come.  I am also enthused over the prospect of expanding my knowledge and understanding of evolutionary biology and the biodiversity of species through lab work.  In my spare time I really enjoy playing music (mainly guitar), spending time with friends and family, video games, watching tv and movies, going downtown, playing chess, being a volunteer on-campus EMT, and playing almost any sport that ends in the word ball.

Julie Witkowski

I am a senior biology major at Loyola University Chicago with a minor in bioethics.  I am currently pre-med, and aspire to one day become an orthopedic surgeon.  In addition to my interests in medicine, I am fascinated by evolution, biogeography, and genetics.  Working in Reddy Lab and at the field museum is an incredible experience, and I am excited to make my own contribution to these important fields!  I am also a member of the dance team at Loyola University and I love attending sporting events and playing almost any sport! In my free time I enjoy swimming, fishing, camping,      animals, being outside, watching movies, and working with children.

Lab Alum

Billy Zhao
I graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a major in Biology and a minor in Asian Studies.  I'm currently working at University of Chicago in a diabetes research lab.

Rachel Baker

I graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 2009 with a degree in molecular biology. I am working as Dr. Reddy's technician for a few years to focus my research interests before graduate school. My research interests include molecular evolution, conservation, and developmental biology. Having loved watching birds since childhood, I now find them to be interesting research subjects for the roles they play in conservation and biodiversity. I am currently applying to law school and hope to translate my experiences in evolution and ecology into law. I enjoy everything about Chicago, going to concerts, playing piano, drawing, and putzing around on the internet.