Kimberly Howell | PhD student

My research interest is in the development and maintenance of reproductive isolation during the speciation process. I got my Bachelor’s degree in biology in 2015 from Luther College where I did research in a lab which focuses on speciation in plants. I joined the R-Z lab first as a rotation student in the spring of 2016. My project was focused on studying the relationship between neutral genetic structure and the putatively selected traits of body color and size in the highly polymorphic strawberry dart frog (Oophaga pumilio) on the island of Bastimentos in Northern Panama. I found a strong pattern of isolation by distance in the neutral genetic markers that was not associated with the variation in coloration in body size, suggesting that these two traits were actually under selection. Now as a PhD student in the lab, I plan on studying the visual system of pumilio color morphs, looking at both behavioral and physiological differences in color vision between the different color morphs and test if color vision differences contributes to the observed mating preferences.