You are here


Members of the Zuk lab are driven by a passion for behavioral ecology. As a research group, we are broadly interested in sexual selection, and work on a wide range of projects related to sexual behavior, rapid signal evolution, and immune function.

Principal Investigator: Professor Marlene Zuk

Current Postdocs

Justa Heinen-Kay

I am an evolutionary ecologist broadly interested in how biodiversity is generated and maintained. More specifically, I am interested in how variation in ecological conditions can influence the evolution of mating systems and sexually selected traits, from elaborate signals to relatively inconspicuous aspects of genitalia. For my postdoctoral research in the Zuk lab, I have two main focuses. First, I am working to unravel consequences for T. oceanicus females, from the genetic to population level, following rapid spread of the “flatwing” mutation, which has rendered many male crickets obligately silent across the Hawaiian Islands. Second, I am investigating tradeoffs between sexual attractiveness and desiccation resistance in cuticular hydrocarbons in T. oceanicus across the South Pacific.

Current Graduate Students

Mounica Kota

Mounica KotaI am broadly interested in sexual ornaments and sexual and natural selection tradeoffs associated with their expression. Within this context, I am also interested in behavioral plasticity in response to sexual ornaments under various selective pressures. I hope to address some of these questions with regard to mate choice in the Pacific field cricket system.

Rachel Olzer

Broadly, I am interested in the trade-offs between predator and sexual selection and the various selective pressures that act on animal signals. Specifically, I want to further develop our knowledge of the behavioral, ecological, and evolutionary basis of satellite behavior in the Pacific field cricket. Ultimately I aim to understand the evolution of exploitative behavior in the context of sexual selection.

Jessie Tanner

I work in both vertebrate and invertebrate systems to answer questions about sexual selection and its consequences for signal evolution. My dissertation focuses on how females make mating decisions under conditions of realistic complexity, i.e., when signals are multivariate, environments are noisy, and there exists intra-individual variation in both signaler and receiver behavior. I am also interested in the role of behavioral plasticity in the adaptive differentiation of wild populations. I am co-advised by Dr. Mark Bee. Read more about my research here.

Narmin Ghalichi


Undergraduate Researchers

Nicola Deák

Undergraduate researcher Nicola Deak

Kirstine Grab

Adam Hartman

Adam Hartman

Jake Hjort

Jake Hjort

Emily Johnson

Emily Johnson

Gayatri Naranayan

Gayatri Narayanan

Erin Schwister

Erin Schwister

Daina Strub

Daina Strub

Marissa Peyer

Undergraduate Marissa Peyer

Recent Graduates

Rebecca Ehrlich, M.S. 2017

Rebecca Erlich

My research interests broadly encompass the evolution of animal mating systems, life history theory, and ecoimmunology. I am especially interested in studying trade-offs between disease resistance and sexual selection under real-world environmental pressures. For my doctoral research, I plan to investigate the influence of climate change on insect reproduction and immune defense through an evolutionary and ecological framework.