PI: Catherine Linnen

catherine.linnen@uky.edu, CV


Catherine earned her B.S. in Ecology from the University of Georgia (2000). She then went on to complete her Ph.D. in Brian Farrell's lab (2007) and spent four years as a postdoc in Hopi Hoekstra's lab (2007-2011), both in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Kentucky. When not in the lab, she enjoys spending time with her family (see "Honorary Lab Members" below).

PhD Candidate: Kim Vertacnik



Kim completed her B.S. in molecular biology at Western Washington University (2010), where she worked on Rhagoletis speciation under Dietmar Schwarz. After graduation, she worked as a lab tech at Penn State in Kelli Hoover's lab, then joined the Linnen Lab in 2012. In her graduate work, Kim is using comparative genomics to investigate the genetic basis of host-use specialization in pine sawflies. Outside of Biology, Kim has work experiences ranging from retail to domestic violence advocacy. Much to the delight of her labmates, she also loves to bake.

PhD Candidate: John Terbot



John completed his B.S. in Evolution/Ecology and Entomology at The Ohio State University (2012). Joining the lab in 2013, he is studying the genetics and evolution of feeding aggregations, using Neodiprion as a model. Art is also very important to John. He particularly enjoys mixed media, digital, film, and video arts.  He is an advocate for collaboration and cooperation between art and science. Through these interactions, he hopes to learn new perspectives on scientific issues and communicate science to a broader audience.

PhD Candidate: Emily Bendall



Emily earned her B.A. in biology from Willamette University in 2013, where she worked on coevolution of yuccas and yucca moths in Chris Smith’s lab. She joined the lab in 2014. Emily is studying the genetic architecture of divergent host-use traits in Neodiprion, and their role in speciation. 

PhD Student: Megan Thomas



Megan is from Louisville, KY and earned her BS in biology from Centre College in 2010. After graduation Megan worked as an autotransfusionist for 2 years, then earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Louisville and taught high school biology for 5 years. She is now attending her third Kentucky-based education institution as a PhD student. Megan is investigating the role of divergence in sawfly genitalia in preventing gene flow between sister species in sympatry. When not in the lab Megan can be found hiking, camping, or practicing yoga with her husband and pup.

Undergraduate: Maya Gershtenson



Maya is a sophomore biochemistry major/music performance minor from Richmond, KY. She hopes to continue her education in graduate school and ultimately pursue a career in research.



Current Lab Members:


Past Lab Members:


Joanna Larson (lab tech 2011; Currently: PhD student, Univ. of Michigan)

Adam Leonberger (lab manager 2011-2014; Currently: Franklin Co. Horticulture Agent)

Katie DeVeau (lab tech 2011-2012; Currently: PhD student, Univ. of Louisville)

Rachael Ziembroski (lab tech and field assistant, Summer 2012)

Kyle Schwachter (lab tech 2012-2013)

Meghan Pasquale (lab tech 2013)

Aubrey Mojesky (lab tech, Summer 2013; Currently: undergrad, Centre College)

Emily Stromberg (KBRIN student, Summer 2013; Currently: undergrad, Berry College)

Taylor Shackleford (undergrad research 2011-2013; Currently: MD student, Univ. of Kentucky)

Mary Collins (undergrad research 2012-2013; Currently: Teach for America)

Alonna Ballinger-Wright (lab tech and summer fellow 2013-2014)

Ahmad Nawaz (lab tech 2013-2014)

Ismaeel Siddiqi (undergrad research 2013-2014)

Natascha Richardson (undergrad research 2014)

Mackenzie Taylor (summer REU 2014; Currently: undergrad, Columbia University)

Dr. Matthew Niemiller (postdoc 2013-2014; Currently: postdoc, Univ. Illinois Urbana-Champaign)

Ethan Adams (undergrad research 2014)

Minh Tran (lab tech 2014)

Jesse Vaught (lab tech 2014)

Dr. Claire O'Quin (postdoc 2014-2015; Currently: Lecturer, University of Kentucky)

Katie Harper (ug research 2013-2014, lab manager 2014-2015; Currently: MS student, College of Charleston)

Jeremy Frederick (undergrad research: 2014-2015; Currently: MD student)

Melanie Hurst (undergrad research: 2013-2016; Currently: PhD student, Vanderbilt University)

Jordan Wolfe (undergrad research: 2014-2015; Currently: George Washington Health Policy MPH Program)

Connor Sears (undergrad research: 2014-2015; Currently: PhD student, University of Cincinnati)

Nicole Hopkins (undergrad research 2015)

Julianne Horn (undergrad research: 2015-2016)

Dr. Robin Bagley (Phd student 2011-2017; Currently: postdoc, University of Iowa)

Layne Gaynor (undergrad research: 2014-2017)

Carrie Anderson (undergrad research: 2015-2017)

Anna Sosso (undergrad research: 2016-2017)

Brianna Washington (undergrad research: 2016-2017)

Sarah Ward (undergrad research: 2017)

Adam Douglas (undergrad research: 2015-2017)




Honorary Lab Members:



Undergraduate: Ndeye Thiaw



Ndeye is from Senegal, West Africa. She moved to Lexington, Kentucky in 2011. She earned her associate in science degree at Bluegrass Community and Technical College. She transferred to UK as a junior in Fall 2015 where she is pursing her B.S. in Biology.  Ndeye is also planning to get a minor in French. Her dream is to attend medical school and to become an oncologist. Ndeye enjoys helping others, reading and taking care of other people.

Undergraduate: Hallee Mason



Hallee is a Biology major from Frankfort, KY. She hopes to become a pharmacist after graduation. She enjoys reading and singing in the UK women's choir. 

Undergraduate: Nicole Payne


Nicole is a junior Agricultural and Medical Biotechnology major from Bagdad, Ky. She plans on furthering her education by attending medical school, and earning her MD.

Undergraduate: Dylan P'Simer



Dylan is a senior majoring in Biology, with a minor in neuroscience. He is from eastern Kentucky and ultimately hopes to become an orthopedic surgeon. His hobbies include soccer, hiking, and horseback riding.

Postdoc: Danielle Herrig



Danielle earned her B.S. in Biology at St. Ambrose University (2010). During her PhD at the University of Iowa, she investigated the genetics of speciation utilizing Drosophila sister species to assess gene flow, gene expression divergence for different gene types, and the role of gene expression in hybrid dysfunction. Her work in the Linnen Lab focuses on characterizing gene expression across life-stages and in different tissue types to unveil the role of chemosensory gene expression changes in development, mate choice, and speciation. She enjoys spending her time outside of the lab hiking and exploring new places with her husband and hound.

Undergraduate: Kayla Mattingly



Kayla is a sophomore Biology major with a Spanish minor from Louisville, KY. After graduation, she hopes to attend medical school to become a pediatric oncologist. She enjoys baking, volunteering, and hanging out with friends.  

Undergraduate: Abby Hillmann



Abby is a Sophomore majoring in both Biology and Psychology with a minor in History. She has a wide variety of interests and hobbies but her main focus is Biology. She plans to apply to medical school and hopes to become a psychiatrist because she loves working with people.


Undergraduate: Parisa Shamaei Zadeh



Parisa is a sophomore from Eastern Kentucky majoring in Human Health Sciences. She enjoys traveling in her free time.