Individuals who are interested in joining the lab are encouraged to contact Josh.

Principal Investigator




Josh Banta
Josh is an Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Texas at Tyler, as well as the Director of the Center for Environment, Biodiversity, and Conservation (CEBC). He received his B.S. in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000 and his Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution from Stony Brook University in 2008. He worked as a post-doctoral research associate in the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology at New York University from 2008 - 2011. Josh’s research interests center on evolutionary genomics and ecology of imperiled species, as well as fundamental evolutionary genomics research. Curriculum vitae (PDF)

Lab Technician



Jared Dickson
Jared earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees from UT-Tyler. He began working in the Banta Lab in the summer of 2019. He has worked on the ecology and genetics of imperiled freshwater mussels in East Texas, as well as on the ecology of crayfish habitats.

Graduate Students



Nathan Schubert
Nathan earned his B.S. degree in Natural Resource Management from Texas Tech University in the fall of 2018. He will be joining the Banta Lab in the spring of 2021, where he will be studying the ecology of East Texas crayfish species.


Sarah Reeder
Sarah began work on her M.S. in Biology in August 2018. She completed a B.S. in Biology from UT-Tyler in 2018. During her undergraduate years, she is studied the genomics of production in the anaerobic bacterium Clostridium acetobutylicum. For her thesis, she studied the population genetics of two rare Texas freshwater mussels, the Texas Heelsplitter (Potamilus amphicaenus) and the Louisiana Pigtoe (Pleurobema riddellii). Sarah already knows what she's doing next: in fall 2021, she will begin a Ph.D. in Dr. Sen Xu's lab in the Biology Department at the University of Texas at Arlington, focusing on the genomics of parthenogenesis is Daphnia.

Research Assistants




Ally McGrath
Ally has performed research in the Banta Lab since the spring of 2014. She has worked on the conservation genetics of the federally endangered Texas wildflower Leavenworthia texana, as well as the population epigenomics of the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana.


Olivia Saucedo
Olivia began working in the lab in the fall of 2019, studying the population epigenomics of the the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana.



Raul Faburrieta
Raul began working in the lab in the spring of 2019, studying the population epigenomics of the the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana. He was chosen as a NSF Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Summer Research Academy Fellow for summer 2020, performing research in the Banta Lab on local crayfish species.


Shakevin (Star) Hightower
Star began working in the lab in the fall of 2018. She has worked on multiple projects, including the ecology of the Neches River Rose Mallow (Hibiscus dasycalyx), ecological niche modeling research on Texas freshwater mussels, the population epigenomics of the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana, and the ecology of rare Texas freshwater mussels.

Alumni



Alejandro Ibarra-Narvaez
Alex worked in the lab from the spring of 2019 to the spring of 2020, when he graduated. He was a NSF Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Summer Research Academy Fellow in the summer of 2019, working in the lab on the epigenomics of the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana, and he was selected to participate in the LSAMP Summer Research Academy Abroad program to continue his research at the University of Tübingen in Germany. He is now working as a lab technician for Astrix Techology Group on a COVID-19 vaccine. He is also applying to dental school.


Ebony Griffin
Ebony was a member of the UT-Tyler Honors College, and he earned her B.S. in Biology from UT-Tyler in 2019. She worked in the lab from the fall of 2018 until she graduated. Her research was on climate envelope modeling of the rare Kisatchie Painted Crayfish in East Texas and Louisiana under current and future climates. She won best environmental science poster presentation at the National Collegiate Honors Council Annual Conference in New Orleans, LA in 2019. She is now applying for medical school.


Kimberly (Bri) Jackson
Bri earned her B.S. in Biology from UT-Tyler in the fall of 2019. Se worked in the lab during the summer of 2019, studying the genetics of rare freshwater mussels in Texas. She is now applying for medical school.


Dustin Esmond
Dustin earned his B.S. in Biology from UT-Tyler in the spring of 2019. He worked in the lab during the summer of 2019, studying the ecology of ecology of rare freshwater mussels in Texas. Dustin is now pursuing a thesis-directed M.S. degree at UT-Tyler in Dr. Ali Azghani's lab, studying lung pathogenesis.




Alyssa Blanton
Alyssa earned her B.S. in Biology from UT-Tyler in the winter of 2018. She worked in the lab since 2016 on various projects relating to two endemic Texas wildflowers of conservation interest: the Neches River Rose Mallow and the Texas Golden Gladecress (Hibiscus dasycalyx and Leavenworthia texana). She was a NSF Lois Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Summer Research Academy research fellow during the summer of 2017. She also performed ecological niche modeling research on Texas freshwater mussels. She was one of 20 students selected nationwide for an internship with Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, New York in the summer of 2018 for a three-week scientific computing skills internship funded by LSAMP. Alyssa is now in dental school at the University of Arizona.



Kinza Ashraf
Kinza was a member of the UT-Tyler Honors College, and she earned her B.S. in Biology from UT-Tyler in 2018. She worked in the lab on climate envelope modeling of Texas freshwater mussels. She won the best poster in her category at the Texas Academy of Science annual meeting in 2019, as well as at the Lyceum Student Research Showcase at the University of Texas at Tyler in that same year. Kinza is now applying for dental school programs.


Alexandra Simmons
Ally earned B.S. in Biology from UT-Tyler. She worked in the lab since fall 2017 on multiple projects, including the ecology of the Neches River Rose Mallow (Hibiscus dasycalyx), ecological niche modeling research on Texas freshwater mussels, and, most recently, the population epigenomics of the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1W9EvwWtWFiUqZ12BSXB9-KwiWH2CQA4s/view?usp=drive_web

Ava Laszlo
Ava completed a B.S. in Environmental Sciences with an Aquatic Biology Focus and Chemistry minor from Oregon State University in 2014. She graduated with an M.S. in Biology from the Banta lab at UT Tyler in December 2019. Her M.S. thesis was on the distribution of two endemic freshwater mussel species in East Texas: Fusconaia askewii (TX Pigtoe) and Fusconaia lananensis (Triangle Pigtoe). Ava is now a wildlife biologist for the State of Florida studying freshwater mussels.


Katherine Barthel
Kathy received her B.S. in Biology from UT-Tyler in 2017. She worked in the lab from 2014 - 2016 on the genetics and ecology of two endemic Texas wildflowers of conservation interest: the Neches River Rose Mallow and the Texas Golden Gladecress (Hibiscus dasycalyx and Leavenworthia texana). She began her M.S. degree in Biology at UT-Tyler in 2018, and also worked at at the Texas A&M agricultural extension at Overton on a switchgrass biofuel project run by Dr. Tom Juenger at UT-Austin.


Megan Seawright
Megan earned her B.S. in Biology from UT-Tyler in Fall 2018. She worked in the lab since the winter of 2016 on the genetics and genomics of the 
the Neches River Rose Mallow (Hibiscus dasycalyx). She was a Lois Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) summer research fellow during the summer of 2016, and she also received a SSE/BEACON Undergraduate Diversity at Evolution travel award to attend the Evolution meetings in Austin, TX. She also performed ecological niche modeling research on Texas freshwater mussels. Megan is in veterinary school at Oklahoma State University.


Julia Norrell
Julia earned her B.S. in Biology, with emphasis in plants, from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in May 2015. She worked in Dr. Patrick Larkin's lab on the population genetics of the sea grass Halodule wrightii. She graduated with an M.S. in Biology from the Banta lab at UT Tyler in May 2017. Her M.S. thesis focused on using genomics to distinguish closely related Hibiscus species, including the federally threatened Texas endemic Neches River Rose Mallow (Hibiscus dasycalyx).
En Tze Chong
En Tze is broadly interested in conservation as an over-arching theme to his studies. He worked on various projects in the lab from 2014 - 2016, including epigenetic effects on flowering time in Arabidopsis thaliana, the genetics and ecology of Texas endemic wildflower species, and the ecology of Texas freshwater mussels. He also spent three months in Belize in summer 2016 performing floristics research for the Banta lab.


Samuel Davis
Sam was a member of the UT-Tyler Honors College, and he earned his B.S. in Biology from UT-Tyler in 2017. He worked in the lab from the fall of 2015 until the spring of 2017 on ecological niche modeling of the rare Texas endemic plant species, the Neches River Rose Mallow (Hibiscus dasycalyx). Sam is now in a Ph.D. program in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville.


Jamie Williams
Jamie is pursuing her undergraduate degree in Biology from UT-Tyler. She was a Lois Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) summer research fellow during the summer of 2014, where she worked on the genetics of the federally endangered Texas endemic wildflower Leavenworthia texana, the Texas Golden Gladecress.


Melody Sain
Melody received her B.S. in Biology from the University of Tennessee at Martin in May 2013. She earned her M.S. in Biology from UT-Tyler in summer 2015. Her thesis work focused on the taxonomic status and distribution of the threatened Texas endemic wildflower Hibiscus dasycalyx. She was recognized for having the best student poster at the Society for Ecological Restoration meetings in 2014. Melody is pursuing a Ph.D. in Botany in Dr. David Baum's lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Jazmin Reese
Jazmin graduated with a B.S. in Biology from UT-Tyler in May 2015. She worked in our lab during her senior year on genome-wide and candidate gene mapping of root morphological traits in Arabidopsis thaliana. This work is in collaboration with the Corruzi lab at New York University.


Jennifer Parks
Jennifer graduated with a B.S. in Biology from UT-Tyler, with secondary school certification, in May 2015. She is now a teacher in the public school system. She worked in our lab from May 2013 - May 2015, on projects with Arabidopsis thaliana involving non-additive ("epistatic") genetic effects on flowering time. She was a Lois Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) summer research fellow during the summer and fall of 2013, and she has a Nature Communications paper from her work in the lab. She is now a high school science teacher in the Dallas, TX area.


Raul Estevez
Raul is received his B.S. in Biology from UT-Tyler in 2017. He worked in our lab from May 2013 - May 2014 on a variety of different projects involving the growth, development, genetics, and phenotyping of Arabidopsis thaliana.


Justin Dalrymple
Justin received his B.S. in Biology from Boston College. Previously he worked as a laboratory technician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, studying immunoassays. Justin earned his M.S. in Biology from UT-Tyler in summer 2014. His thesis work focused on the genetic basis of tolerance to apical meristem damage in Arabidopsis thaliana. He then worked as a laboratory technician in Zachary Lippman's lab at Cold Spring Harbor Lab. He is now pursuing a Ph.D. in Dr. Matthew DeGennaro's tropical ecology lab at Florida International University, where he is the head TA for their genetics labs. He is studying the genetic basis of cnidarian-algal symbiosis in coral reefs.






Dr. Miles Mesa
Miles graduated with a B.S. in Biology from UT-Tyler in May 2013. He worked in our lab from August 2011 - June 2013, on projects with Arabidopsis thaliana involving (1) the genetic basis of tolerance to apical meristem damage, and (2) epistatic effects among flowering time loci on architectural and life history traits. He was a Lois Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) summer research fellow during the summer and fall of 2012. Miles is earned a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution in Dr. Ken Paige's lab at the University of Illinois. He is an IGERT fellow (NSF interdisciplinary training program) in the research area of plant-herbivore interactions. He is now a post-doctoral research associate in Dr. Katrina Dlugosch's lab in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Airzona, where continues this line of research.


Melecio Silva
Miles graduated with a B.S. in Biology from UT-Tyler in May 2013. He worked in our lab from August 2011 - June 2013, on projects with Arabidopsis thaliana involving (1) the genetic basis of tolerance to apical meristem damage, and (2) epistatic effects among flowering time loci on architectural and life history traits. He was a Lois Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) summer research fellow during the summer and fall of 2012. He is now a high school biology teacher in East Texas.