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Current Graduate Students:

Andrew Gaier (Ph.D.) 2023- present

Andrew Gaier began his Ph.D. at CUNY in Fall 2023. He is from New Jersey and received a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Colorado Boulder. He is interested in the biogeography of species across mountainous landscapes. At CU Boulder, his research focused on Telesonix jamesii, a high-elevation flowering plant found in the Rocky Mountains. He used this species as a model to assess the utility of community science records for modeling distributions of data-limited species. He also investigated the pollinator interactions of T. jamesii to better understand the reproductive limitations facing narrowly distributed species. In his Ph.D., Andrew is interested in how both past and present climate has influenced current distributions of species. He is currently applying these questions to small mammal communities across the intermountain west.

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Past Graduate Students & Post-Docs:


Bethany Johnson

Bethany Johnson (Masters) 2021- 2023

Bethany A. Johnson began her master’s program in biology at City College in the fall of 2021. She joined the Anderson Lab as an undergraduate, continuing her research on ecological niche modeling and improving species’ range estimates with remotely sensed habitat data. Her work focused on Handleyomys chapmani, a threatened Mexican montane rodent, and using species distribution modeling for IUCN threat level categorization. She received her degree during the summer of 2023 after defending her thesis A “Neighborhood” Approach for Using Remotely Sensed Data to Post-Process Species Distribution Models for Conservation Assessments and winning the Professor Martin Sacks/Sylvia F. Rubin Award from the CCNY Biology Department. She is currently a Software Development and Maintenance Consultant for the Wallace EcoMod team and a Visiting Scientist with the Center for Biodiversity & Conservation of the American Museum of Natural History.

Erica Johnson

Erica Johnson joined the Anderson lab in the fall of 2018. Upon completing her undergraduate degree at Universidad Simón Bolívar in her home country of Venezuela, Erica participated in many research projects, both in academic and non-profit settings. Much of her research has sought to integrate field work and GIS to tackle environmental issues including studying plant dispersal adaptations in fire-prone savannas, monitoring deforestation in the Amazon, developing methods to assess Red List of Ecosystems criteria, and disease risk mapping. Her Ph.D. research focused on developing methods to explicitly account for biotic interactions in ecological niche models to improve predictions, with particular emphasis on parasite-host interactions. Erica also has a keen interest in bridging the gap between scientists and policy makers, recently working as a legislative aide for the New York State Assembly’s Chair of Health. She now works at the Environmental Policy Innovation Center where she is leveraging her science background to help ensure clean and safe drinking water is accessible to all as their Lead Service Line Replacement - Senior Policy Analyst.

Erica Johnson (Ph.D.) 2018- 2023

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Gonzalo Pinilla Buitrago

Gonzalo E. Pinilla-Buitrago (Ph.D.) 2017- 2023

Gonzalo Pinilla-Buitrago began his Ph.D. in Fall 2017. He is interested in biogeography and mammalogy. He received a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá. He has used biodiversity informatics and museum collections in many projects, including the taxonomic revision of marsupials of the genus Marmosa in Colombia. He received a master’s degree from the Instituto de Ecología in Xalapa, Mexico. He used ecological niche models of mammals and beetles to evaluate the long-term persistence of areas where species co-occur. In his Ph.D., he incorporated the temporal variation of climatic variables in ecological niche models to explore changes in model predictions for cloud-forest mammals in Mexico. Gonzalo has begun his postdoctoral research at the University of Connecticut with Cory Merow and Mark Urban.

Jamie Kass
Beth Gerstner
Lázaro Guevara
Peter Galante
Robert Boria
Eliecer Gutierrez
Mariano Soley
Ali Raza

Jamie Kass (Ph.D.) 2013-2019



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Jamie Kass began the CUNY Ph.D. program in the Fall 2013 semester.  He is interested in biogeography and community ecology. A native New Yorker (from Queens), Jamie did his undergraduate at the State University of New York at Binghamton, dual majoring in Biology and English. Later, he completed a master's in Environmental Management at Duke University, where he conducted research on carnivores in Madagascar. Before coming to CUNY for his doctoral studies, Jamie worked for several years as a GIS specialist in various academic and environmental non-profit organizations.  Jamie collaborated on production of the R package ENMeval (Muscarella et al. 2015) and led development of the web app "Wallace" (see News).  For his dissertation, Jamie was focusing on the challenge of considering biotic interactors in models of species niches and ranges. Jamie began conducting postdoctoral research at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology in Japan.

Beth Gerstner (Master's) 2014- 2016


Beth Gerstner joined the lab in Spring 2014 and is from Staten Island, New York. She completed her undergraduate degree at Stony Brook University and then volunteered at the American Museum of Natural History. In her master's research, Beth is studying the distribution and conservation status of the "olinguito," a recently discovered carnivoran endemic to Colombia and Ecuador. Additionally, she has collaborated with Maria Gavrutenko on conservation and climate-change research on a rodent endemic to Madagascar. Beth is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at Michigan State University and is conducting research in Dr. Phoebe Zarnetske's lab.

Lázaro Guevara began his postdoc in the lab in spring 2016 (funded by Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, CONACYT). Lázaro is from Oaxaca, México. He received his undergraduate degree at the Universidad Veracruzana in fall 2005 and later conducted his master and Ph. D. studies at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). His dissertation research focused on the systematics and evolution of small-eared shrews of the genus Cryptotis based on morphology, mitochondrial DNA, and ecological niches. Lázaro has received grants from CONACYT and Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (CONABIO) for his research in several natural history museums. During his post-doc, Lázaro worked on incorporating niche modelling in systematic and phylogeographic studies for a better understanding of the evolution and biogeography of small mammals in Central America, bridging from the Anderson and Carnaval labs at CCNY. Currently, he works at UNAM's Instituto de Biología as an Associate Researcher in the mammalogy department. 

Peter Galante (Master's) 2012-2015


Peter Galante began in the lab in fall 2012. Pete is from Conesus, New York. He completed his undergraduate degree at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and gained a wide variety of field experince across North America before coming to CCNY. In his master's research, he studied two aspects of niche modeling, using nesomyine rodents as study species.  Specifically, he assessed two methods for estimating optimal model complexity, and compared ways for selecting input environmental variables.  Pete played an especially critical role in the development of the R package ENMeval (Muscarella et al. 2014).  After graduation, Pete was hired by the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History where he is currently a Biodiversity Informatics Scientist in a group led by Mary Blair.

Robert Boria (Master's)  2012-2014


After conducting research in the lab as an undergraduate, Robert A. Boria began his master's program in spring 2012, with funding by the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP).  A native of New York City, he conducted research on the evolutionary ecology of small mammals in Madagascar, focusing on tenrecs. The first chapter of his thesis explored the effects of spatial filtering of occurrence localities, with the goal of reducing the effects of sampling bias (and its effect on ecological niche models; Boria et al. 2014). His second chapter assessed ensemble forecasts of co-optimally performing Maxent models.  Along the way, he played major roles in the development of two R packages, spThin (Aiello-Lammens et al. 2015) and ENMeval (Muscarella et al. 2014). Rob then pursued and obtained a Ph.D. at the University of California at Merced working with Jessica Blois.

Eliécer Gutiérrez  (Ph.D.) 2005-2012



Eliécer Gutiérrez began his Ph.D. studies through the CUNY Graduate Center in August 2005.  Eliécer is interested in the systematics and biogeography of Neotropical mammals.  He received his undergraduate degree at the Universidad de los Andes in Mérida, Venezuela and later worked for the Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas (IVIC) in Caracas, Venezuela.  Eliécer collaborated on a systematic revision of spiny pocket mice (Heteromys) in Venezuela (Anderson and Gutiérrez, 2009).  He also participated in the fieldwork in Falcón, Venezuela in 2006 and Aragua, Venezuela in 2008, as well as subsequent analyses of the data from Falcón (Anderson et al. 2012).  His dissertation research focused on the systematics, biogeography, and evolution of mouse opossums of the genus Marmosa, supported by grants from the American Society of Mammalogists and the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Fund of the American Museum of Natural History (including funding for DNA sequencing that he conducted in the lab of Sharon Jansa). After graduating, he was a postdoctoral Buck Fellow at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, conducting research on the systematics and biogeography of deer (genus Odocoileus). He then began a visiting professor position at the Universidade Federal de Santa Maria in Brazil. 

Mariano Soley-Guardia (Ph.D.2008-2014



Mariano Soley-Guardia began the CUNY Ph.D. program in the Fall 2008 semester.  He is interested in the evolution and biogeography of vertebrates, especially rodents and marsupials.  As an undergraduate, he studied biology at the Universidad de Costa Rica.  In his dissertation, he used GIS techniques to model the areas suitable for small non-volant mammals in southern Central America and northern South America. In the Central American portion, he tested the predictions of niche models with population-genetic analyses based on genetic data that he generated in the lab of Ana Carnaval and at the American Museum of Natural History.  He also conducted theoretical research regarding niches and plasticity.  Mariano received grants from the American Museum of Natural History, American Society of Mammalogists, and Professional Staff Congress of the City University of New York (PSC-CUNY) for his dissertation research.  He also was a critical part of the team that developed the R package ENMeval (Muscarella et al. 2014).  After graduation, Mariano returned to Costa Rica where he is currently an Adjunct Professor at the Universidad de Costa Rica, San José.

Aleksandar Radosavljevic (Master's) 2008-2011


Aleksandar (Aleks) Radosavljevic began the CCNY master's program in biology in the fall 2007 semester and joined the lab in the spring of 2008.  An avid outdoorsman from northern New Jersey, Aleks did his undergraduate work in Biology at Marymount University in Virginia.  Subsequently, he traveled widely in South America and then was employed at the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History on the Biological Diversity of the Guiana Shield Program.  Aleks' master's thesis assessed ways to avoid overfitting of models of species geographic distributions, leading to increased transferability of the models across space and time.  His research on this topic addressed transferability in the Caribbean spiny pocket mouse Heteromys anomalus.  Aleks won a travel award from the International Biogeography Society to attend and present his work at the biennial meeting of the Society in January 2009. The results of his project in Journal of Biogeography were selected by the editors were featured as a "Special Paper" (Radosavljevic and Anderson 2014). Currently, Aleks is a Ph.D. student at Northwestern University, where he continued working with the lab on the development of the R package spThin (Aiello-Lammens et al. 2015).


Ali Raza (Master's) 2007-2011


Ali Raza worked in the lab as an undergraduate and later entered our master's program, where he conducted research (extending the ideas of his undergraduate research) to study the distributions of species of the genus Nephelomys in Venezuela.  His important conceptual research led to a publication in the Journal of Biogeography (Anderson and Raza, 2010).  Ali later pursued a master's in science education at CCNY.


Past associated Ph.D. students:



Dr. Marcelo Weksler conducted his Ph.D. studies and research supervised by Dr. Robert S. Voss at the American Museum of Natural History.  During the Fall semester of 2004, Marcelo collaborated on phylogenetic analyses of the evolutionary relationships among species of spiny pocket mice (order Rodentia: family Heteromyidae: subfamily Heteromyinae), using morphological and genetic (allozymic) data (Anderson et al. 2006).  Marcelo graduated in February 2005 and subsequently conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Alaska, working with Dr. Link Olson.  In 2007, he began a second postdoc, this one at the American Museum of Natural History, working with Dr. Meng Jin on an NSF Tree of Life grant. Later, Marcelo gained a position as a researcher at the Museu Nacional, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro.

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