Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Rafael Medina, Ph.D.

I am interested in the description and understanding of biodiversity, one of the most exciting human endeavors. My specialty is the integrative taxonomy of plants (in particular, mosses) combining a diverse source of evidence, from morphology to phylogenomics. My main current interest is the evolutionary significance of autopolyploidy (genome duplication) in the moss Physcomitrium pyriforme. I am also interested in Science Communication and have participated in different projects that pursued the effective transmission of the scientific knowledge and critical thinking to the public. As an educator, my fundamental purpose is to cultivate the appreciation of natural history and evolutionary biology among my students.

My scientific career began at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain) where I completed my Ph.D. dissertation working on taxonomy and phylogenetics of species of the moss genus Orthotrichum. I then became postdoctoral associate at the University of Connecticut where I conducted my research on the reconstruction of the phylogeny of the family Funariaceae using high-throughput sequencing. Since 2016 I am assistant professor at Augustana College (Illinois) where I continue working on bryophytes and curate the AUGIE herbarium.

Current students

Hannah Miller

I am a senior at Augustana College majoring in biology with a pre-veterinary focus. Though my primary interests lie with that of animals, I have found that the understanding of plants has helped develop a stronger basis for my intended profession. My responsibilities in the herbarium include: imaging, databasing of information, organization of files, manipulating our 5000+ collection and arranging specimens in the correct taxonomic order. Outside of my herbarium work I am involved with the Phi Rho sorority, intramural sports, and the New Kingdom Trailriders. In addition to my extracurriculars, I have a job working as a pharmacy technician.

Mary Ade

I’m a third year student majoring in Biology at Augustana College. Being fascinated with the natural world, the herbarium is a great place to interact with other passionate students and get firsthand experience with science. Upon completing my education at Augustana, I’m not sure where I’ll be, but I hope to earn an advanced degree in botanical science and eventually have a career in research or conservation. Right now, I’m working on autopolyploidy in the moss Physcomitrium pyriforme. Outside the herbarium, I’m usually on campus studying in the library, attending classes at the Hanson science building, or rehearsing with the Augustana Concert Chorale.

Nelly Gutierrez-Gonzalez

I am a junior Biology major. One of my many interest is the natural world though, so volunteering at the herbarium gives me the chance to explore. I am able to talk to upper classmen about different careers in this field and work alongside lively people. What I volunteered to do is mount hundred year old plant specimens on to better material. By doing this, the specimens are preserved for future generations. They are important historically as well as data wise. Knowing this make me feel happy after a day’s work.

Herbarium volunteers

Our volunteers for the fall term 2018: Sarah Lisak, Morgan Clark, Hillery Hartwig, and Alivia Timmerman

Former lab members