Current Lab Members
Mark Shriver – Principal Investigator
Dr. Shriver’s lab addresses questions related to recent human evolution — in particular the evolution that took place during and after the spread of anatomically modern humans across the globe. Since it is clear from both physiological and genetic studies that all human populations have a very recent common origin, features (namely, genes and genetically determined traits and disease risks) that are different between populations are unique in having undergone evolution in the recent past.
Laurel Pearson – Researcher and Lecturer
Laurel is a lecturer at Penn State University. After completing her B.A. in Anthropology from Louisiana State University, she worked as a research assistant in the College of Tropical Agriculture at the University of Hawaii – Manoa and in the Department of Nutrition at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville. Her research focused on the complex interplay of diet to disease, such as metabolic disturbances associated with antiretroviral drug therapies and tumorigenesis associated with cancer. Currently, her research focuses on the genetics of preterm birth among African American women as well as the genetic basis of human dental variation.
Jinguo Huang – Graduate Student
Jinguo is a PhD candidate in Bioinformatics and Genomics. She is interested in bioinformatics, evolutionary genomics, population genetics and facial genetics. Her doctoral research focuses on evolution of human facial traits and human facial variation across different populations.
Tina Lasisi – Graduate Student
Tina is interested in the evolution of human phenotypic variation among populations. Her doctoral research focuses on the evolution of human hair variation. Tina’s other research interests include social perceptions of race and the history of scientific racism.
Tomas Gonzalez – Graduate Student
Tomas is a doctoral candidate in Anthropology and Bioethics. He is currently working on human facial variation, particularly facial sexual dimorphism, and its genetic underpinnings, using geometric morphometrics and diverse genetic analyses. Also, he works on the ethical issues emerged by the development of gender-specific medicine, as well as the presence of sex differences in health and disease more broadly.
Zeenat Salah Ud Din – Visiting Graduate Student
Zeenat is completing her Ph.D. in Forensic Sciences from University of Health Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan. She has completed her bachelors in Forensic Science with a research focus on Forensic Biology and worked on DNA quantification of bloodstains recovered from washed fabrics. Her Ph.D. focuses in Forensic Biology particularly about Advances in Forensic Molecular Biology and Genetics, her current project is about “Predictive Modeling of Nose Shape Variations on the Basis of Known Genetic Associations”. Her main research area is Human DNA Phenotyping; focusing on reconstruction of 2D and 3D faces from genes and voice recordings, and biometrics. Currently, she is a visiting scholar at Penn State completing her Ph.D. research work.
Sarita W. Greer – Project Coordinator/Lab Manager
Sarita W. Greer graduated from Penn State University with a B.S. in Biological Anthropology in 2015. During her undergraduate studies she worked as a research assistant on the ADAPT, ADAPT2 and Mexican Variation projects under Dr. Mark Shriver and Dr. Laurel Pearson. Post graduation she worked in administration of various biochemistry and molecular biology research labs before returning “home” to Shriver Lab. Sarita coordinates the many ongoing research projects in the lab, manages the undergraduate researchers and over all ensures the smooth progression of lab activities.
Soham M. Bhide – Undergraduate Researcher
Soham Bhide is an undergraduate student at Penn State majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, with a focus in Biochemistry. His research interests include study of human evolution, genetics, and cell biology. Soham interned in the regenerative medicine department at Reliance Life Sciences as well as IPCA Laboratories in their biotech research department in Mumbai India. He is currently working on establishing the effects of ancestry and a person’s geographical location on their oral microbiome as an undergraduate researcher in Shriver Lab. Soham wishes to pursue a PhD and work in academia as a researcher and a professor. Soham currently completes DNA extractions from saliva via the salting out method for our ongoing ADAPT4 study.
Duneshka Cruz – Undergraduate Research Technician
Duneshka Cruz is an undergraduate student at Penn State majoring in Biological Anthropology and minoring in Psychology, as well as completing pre-med requirements. Her research interests include forensic science with a focus on DNA and biological evidence, human osteology, paleoethnobotany, and genetic variability of populations. Currently Duneshka assists with the preparation of hair samples, imaging, microscopy and embedding of samples for our ongoing hair variation projects. You may also see her running a station at one of our ADAPT4 sampling events!
Yesenia Hill – Undergraduate Research Technician
Yesenia is a Senior at Penn State University majoring in Biology. She would like to attend medical school in the future and specialize in emergency medicine. Her research interest include exploring genetic facial and hair variation that contribute to the uniqueness of each person. Currently Yesenia assists with the preparation of hair samples, imaging, microscopy and embedding of samples for our ongoing hair variation projects. She is also team lead for data processing and supervises sampling events for the ongoing ADAPT4 project.
Samantha Muller – Undergraduate Research Technician
Sam Muller is an undergraduate student at Penn State majoring in Forensic Science Molecular Biology Option and minoring in Anthropology. She is looking to attend med school post graduation to become a forensic pathologist. Her research interests include forensic pathology and anthropology, as well as microbiome research and how it could be used in a forensic setting. Samantha currently supervises ADAPT4 sampling events, assist with participant communication and embeds samples for our ongoing hair variation project.
Alexis Rollins – Undergraduate Research Technician
Alexis is an undergraduate at Penn State University majoring in Forensic Science, chemistry track, with a minor is psychology. In the future she hopes to work in a forensic laboratory as a forensic pathologist, specifically in either a military or federal lab. Currently Alexis assists with the preparation of hair samples, imaging, microscopy and embedding of samples for our ongoing hair variation projects. Alexis also supervises ADAPT4 sampling events and is team lead for 3D photo processing.
Serena Lang – Undergraduate Research Technician
Serena Lang is a senior at Penn State University majoring in Developmental Biology and Genetics with special interests in reproduction and genomics. Her career goals include working in embryology and infertility focusing on IVF techniques. Serena currently completes DNA extractions from saliva via the salting out method for our ongoing ADAPT4 study.
Leon Kataw – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Leon Kataw is an undergraduate researcher at Penn State, majoring in Anthropology. Leon’s interests include population genetics and the study of hominid evolution through genomic records. Leon is a part of the Data Processing team assisting with 3D photo processing using VECTRA Canfield software and the input of both retroactive and active data.
Johanna Vallejo- Undergraduate Research Assistant
Johanna is a senior majoring in Biological Anthropology and minoring in Philosophy. Her research interests include genetics, human osteology, and Andean anthropology. Johanna is part of the Data Processing Team, has run the anthropometrics station during lab sampling sessions, and previously worked with hair curvature. Post graduation she hopes to start a career in emergency medicine, and later hopes to pursue graduate studies in Biological Anthropology.
Bryel Frasch – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Bryel Frasch is a senior at Penn State University majoring in Genetics and Developmental Biology and on track to receive the Smeal Business Certificate Minor. In the future she hopes to pursue a career in Genetic Counseling. Currently, Bryel assists with the preparation of hair samples and imaging samples for the ongoing hair variation projects. Bryel also runs the 3D video portion of the ADAPT4 sampling events for Disney Research.
Amy Mook- Undergraduate Research Assistant
Amy Mook is an undergraduate student at Penn State majoring in Genetics and Developmental Biology with special interest in human genetics. In the future, she hopes to work as a genetic counselor especially through the use of telemedicine. Amy currently completes DNA extractions from saliva via the salting out method for the ADAPT4 study. She also is working on an independent research project based on the extraction of DNA from strawberries.
Katie Goetz- Undergraduate Research Assistant
Katie Goetz is Shriver Labs newest undergraduate researcher! She is a sophomore majoring in anthropology and interested in clinical research. Katie has taken an interest in the lab’s Vectra 3D software and will join the team once her training is complete.
Winston Lasisi – Lab Mascot and Morale Officer
Winston is arguably the most important member of Shriver Lab. He is retired service dog and takes his new job as the Shriver Lab Morale Officer very seriously. You can find Winston napping on his special couch next to mom, Tina Lasisi, or wandering around the data processing lab in search of pats. Winston is a very accomplished Royal Standard Poodle and hopes to see you at a sampling session soon!
Former Lab Members
Julie White – Graduated Ph.D. Student
Julie graduated from Penn State with a Ph.D. in Anthropology in 2019. She is currently a postdoctoral IRTA fellow at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Durham, NC. She is primarily interested in integrating multiple ‘omics’ datasets using bioinformatics to better understand human health. Her current research project focuses on studying the genomic, epigenomic, and environmental factors contributing to lung health
Emily Bramel – Former Study Coordinator / Undergraduate Research Assistant
Emily was a Study Coordinator for the Shriver lab. She graduated from Penn State with an undergraduate Honors degree in Biological Anthropology and Genetics and Developmental Biology. Her undergraduate research in the Shriver lab focused on the diversity of human scalp hair morphology and is summarized in her thesis titled “Quantifying the Phenotypic Effects of Genes, Ancestry, and Sex on Human Scalp Hair Morphology. She is now pursuing a Ph.D. in Human Genetics at Johns Hopkins University.
Nathaniel Tal – Former Study Coordinator
Nathaniel Tal is a recent graduate from Penn State with a bachelors of science in Psychology with a Neuroscience focus and minor in Biology. His research interests include prenatal genetics and reproductive/women’s health.
Kendall Routch – Former Study Coordinator/Lab Manager
Kendall Routch is an recent graduate from Penn State with a bachelors of science in Biological Anthropology, with a focus in Forensic Anthropology. Her research interests are in biological forensic science, anatomy, and genetics. Kendall plans to attend IUPUI for a masters in forensics science after a two year break to travel.
Jacob Vandever – Former Data Processing Technician
Jacob is a recent graduate of Penn State University with a bachelors of the arts in anthropology. Jacob was an undergraduate research assistant with Shriver Lab for two years before graduating and worked as a Data Processing Tech and sampling supervisor for four months post-graduation. He will be attending Kent State University starting in the Fall of 2019 to pursue a Master’s in Digital Science. His research interests include primatology and data sciences. Jacob’s job duties primarily involved oversight of data processing, particularly of the labs many 2D and 3D photos and he specialized in working with the Canfield VECTRA software. Jacob duties also involved running sampling events and managing the participants and volunteer researchers at these events.
Ben Davisson – Former Undergraduate Research Assistant
Ben Davisson is an undergraduate at Penn State majoring in Biological Anthropology. His research interests include population genetics, genetic diversity and variation, and the evolution of phenotypic traits. Ben currently works as a grade school biology teacher.