Current Lab Members

Postdoctoral Fellows Undergraduate Students | Staff | Interns

Postdoctoral Fellows

Beau AlwardBeau Alward
Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow

My research program aims to decipher morphological, physiological, and behavioral plasticity in the African cichlid Astatotilapia burtoni, a model system for studies of plasticity in response to social cues. To achieve this, we integrate an interdisciplinary toolkit ranging from naturalistic behavior paradigms to CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology. We have begun to uncover novel regulatory mechanisms underlying key features of plasticity in response to social cues.

Undergraduate Students

Maria S-NMaria Valentina Suarez-Nieto
Biology Undergraduate
Chris SkalnikChris Skalnik
Biology Undergraduate
Poster Presentation
Kevin TienKevin Tien
Bio-X Undergraduate
Poster Presentation
I am using Astatotilapia burtoni, a species of cichlid fish from Eastern Africa, as a model system to investigate the functions of androgen receptors (AR). More precisely, I have examined the effects in males of disabling ARβ, one of two A. burtoni androgen receptors, on traits related to social status. The preliminary results of this study show ARβ to be critical for many traits typical of socially dominant male A. burtoniMy research focuses on the role of androgens in burtoni, and my projects have used female AR2 mutants to observe the receptor’s role in reproductive physiology and neural activity. I’m also working on a computational search for transcription factor binding sites in the burtoni genome in order to identify genes that may be implicated in androgen pathways.


Pam Hung June 2018Pamela Hung
Administrative Associate
Dani BDanielle Blakkan
Lab Assistant


Jaqueline WooJaqueline Woo/ Colby College
2018 Summer Intern
I studied how early hormone exposure influences aggression in adulthood in wild-type and transgenic Astatotilapia burtoni. To assess aggression in adult A. burtoni, I optimized “mirror assays”, which allow for high-throughput analyses of aggression standardized for body size. Initial results indicate genetic deletion of androgen receptors abolishes aggression normally seen in fish treated with testosterone early in development.