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Laura Melissa Guzman

Assistant Professor 

My preferred name is Melissa. I am originally from Bogotá, Colombia. I am a computational ecologist. My main motivation is to use quantitative and computational tools to learn about patterns and processes in biodiversity to inform conservation actions. I was a Liber Ero Postdoctoral Fellow focusing on estimating changes in pollinator distributions to prioritize areas for conservation. I worked closely with the NGO Pollinator Partnership Canada


Jayme Lewthwaite

Postdoctoral researcher

Jayme Lewthwaite completed a PhD with Dr. Arne Mooers at Simon Fraser University, where her research combined spatial ecology and phylogenetic information to help evaluate the biodiversity impacts of anthropogenic change on Canadian butterfly species. Her postdoc will expand on this work by constructing detailed modern and historical occupancy maps for each of these species in order to prioritize conservation actions. She is currently serving as a member of the Arthropod Species Subcommittee for COSEWIC (the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada), and loves to chase insects in her spare time.


Austin Baker

Postdoctoral Fellow

Austin is a postdoc working with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the University of Southern California to study California’s insect biodiversity. The California Insect Barcode Initiative is a collaborative effort to sequence “DNA barcodes” of all insect species in California, and Austin will be managing the new collections part of this project. He received a Ph.D. in entomology from the University of California, Riverside where he studied the systematics of ant-parasitizing wasps in the family Eucharitidae and then did a postdoc at the University of Memphis studying the phylogeny of crickets and katydids (Orthoptera: Ensifera). His interests include insect systematics, biodiversity, evolution, and natural history.

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Jenny Cheung

PhD Student

My name is Jenny. I enjoy learning and trying new things. I discovered my passion in statistical ecology during my master’s study in Hong Kong. I used to study how climate change and water pollutions affect the abundance of phytoplankton. Now, at USC, I am looking forward to expanding my PhD research into the metacommunity of plankton and exploring the utilization of occupancy models in the marine ecosystem. I love to explore new places with my bicycle during my leisure time.

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Teagan Baiotto

PhD Student

Teagan is from Staunton, Virginia and currently holds a B.S. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Virginia. He has previously worked with Dr. Lawrence Band on modelling land use change implications on distributed biogeochemical cycling. Teagan is now working with Dr. Melissa Guzman in the Ecological Data Science lab and is interested in how various computational tools can be used to effectively plan marine conservation areas and manage multiple conflicting uses. He hopes his research will be useful to policymakers to improve biodiversity in sensitive areas and increase the wellbeing of threatened marine populations.

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