PhD Students


Rilquer Mascarenhas

Rilquer graduated with a BS in Biology from Universidade Federal da Bahia in Salvador, Brazil, where he studied the phylogeography of the Grey-hooded flycatcher, an endemic passerine of the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. During his master’s, he focused on microevolutionary processes underlying the genomic adaptation of passerines to urban environment (using Bananaquits as a model species), specifically addressing behavioral adaptations to communication in noisy habitats.

He is currently interested in investigating how ecological traits of different species affect their idiosyncratic responses to environmental changes on a phylogeographic scale. During his PhD, his goals are to integrate empirical genomic evaluation along with genetic simulation approaches to better understand the relative importance of neutral and ecological drivers of phylogeographic patterns in the community.


Kathryn Mercier




Kathryn graduated from the University of Central Florida with a MS in Biology working in Dr. Christopher Parkinson's lab. Her thesis was on the phylogeography of mole skinks with an emphasis on their conservation. During her time at UCF she also worked on evaluating the utility of remote sensing to track sea turtle nesting as well as the population genetics of eastern oysters in Apalachicola Bay, FL.


Generally, Kathryn is interested in understanding the drivers of biodiversity at a variety of levels. Specifically, she would like to develop a project understanding how past climate change has shaped patterns of diversity and use that information to make predictions of how biodiversity will shift in the future. She is also interested in working with managers to best protect biodiversity. Kathryn started her PhD in the Carnaval Lab in 2018, and was awarded the Levine Fellowship from the City College of New York.


Connor French

Connor graduated with a BS in Biology (Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior; 2015) from the University of Texas at Austin where he studied the evolution of color in female three-spine stickleback and hung out at the natural history collections a little too much. He then pursued a Master of Science in Zoology at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale under Dr. Jason Brown’s advisorship. He studied the speciation and phylogeography of an Ameerega poison frog species pair in Peru. While in Carbondale, he ill-advisedly joined two bands, which made writing his thesis more stressful than it should have been.


He joined the Carnaval and Hickerson Labs in Fall 2018. Having arrived in the Big Apple, he is now interested in the big biodiversity questions. He wants to integrate population genetics and community ecological theory to investigate the processes behind community assembly and biogeographic history. Now a mature PhD student, he will hopefully maintain some self-control and only play in one band.