Current - Graduate students

Interested in joining the lab? Please contact me via email.

Jon Kuntz

PhD student - University of California, Merced

Bio: Jonathon Kuntz is a stable isotope ecologist interested in the life history of sharks. In 2017, he received a BSc in environmental and organismal biology from the University of Utah. He has since worked with chronological tissues of endangered and threatened species in the San Francisco Estuary, using stable isotopes to better understand movement and trophic interactions across space and time.

Rachel Chan

PhD student - University of California, Merced

Bio: I received my BS in chemistry with a focus in environmental chem, and minored in geology and biology. I enjoy applying chemistry to outside the lab because it’s like trying to find the next piece to a puzzle. I’m interested in paleoclimate reconstructions, geochemistry, marine ecology, stable isotopes, and climate change. I half-jokingly say I’m an aspiring climbing climatologist.

Molly Karnes

PhD student - University of California, Merced

Bio: Molly is interested in modeling paleo food web dynamics and including morphological and stable isotope parameters to account for shark body size, environmental variation, and trophic level.

Gabriele Larocca Conte

PhD student - University of California, Merced

Bio: I received the Bachelor Degree in Natural Sciences and the Master Degree in Geosciences, focusing on biodiversity and palaeocology of ancient shark communities from Italian Fossil Lagerstätte. My goal is to unearth the mysteries of the past, considering environment and animal communities as a whole system. I am now interested in stable isotope applications on shark teeth for paleoenvironmental and paleoecological purposes. I do love hiking, as well as I do love music. I am a drummer in the spare time.

Dr. Robin B. Trayler

SIELO Director and Project Scientist - University of California, Merced

Bio: I am interested in paleontology, paleoclimatology, and paleoecology. I use a variety of techniques in my research including stable isotope geochemistry, radiogenic isotope geochemistry, electron microscopy, and a variety of modeling techniques. (website)

Current - Undergraduates

Maya Morris

Undergraduate researcher - University of California, Merced

Bio: I am a second year chemistry and physics major with an interest in becoming a professor in the future. Currently I am conducting research on fossilized and modern ray teeth using both SEM and XRD analysis. Outside of classes my hobbies include working out, cooking/baking, painting, and spending time with friends and family.


Alyssa Valdez, former Junior Research Specialist

Graduate student at UC Riverside

Bio: I am a recent graduate from UC Merced with a BS in Earth Systems Science. I enjoy studying different environmental systems and understanding their interconnectedness: whether it be about deep sea sharks or the nitrogen cycle in soil. I am passionate about advancing science to help make it more equitable and sustainable for every being. I hope to pave a path for more aspiring scientists of color and open up conversations about the connection between climate and racial justice.

Pedro Valencia Landa , former Undergraduate researcher

Graduate student at UC Santa Cruz

Bio: My ultimate goal is to be able to give back to the underrepresented community by helping the next generation of researchers and doctors accomplish their dreams while bridging the ethnicity gaps currently present in medical fields and higher education. Currently, I am conducting research to understand the process of demineralization for stable isotope analysis. My hobbies include: exercising, running, wondering, and drawing.

Eva Lyon

PhD candidate - University of Kentucky

Bio: I am driven by a great curiosity about processes of change in the natural world, whether anthropogenic, or driven by natural cycles. My research uses geochemical and physical analyses of sedimentary records to discern climatic and environmental change at various temporal and regional scales. My current project explores the glacial history of the Eastern Sierras in California using the sedimentary record of June Lake, CA. My prior work as a Lecturer in Geology at Concord University was perhaps the greatest driving factor in my decision to pursue a PhD. As such, after completing my dissertation at UK, I hope to earn a faculty position that allows me to both teach and mentor undergraduate research.

Sarah Zeichner

undergraduate at the Univ. of Chicago, PhD student at CalTech.

Bio: My research uses stable isotope analysis as a tool to explore the connection between shark ecology and environment with shark teeth isotopic composition. Past projects include: (1) Biological parameters based on organic carbon and nitrogen isotopic values to interpret modern shark ecology (based on teeth taken from a captive feeding experiment), and (2) Eocene high-latitude temperature gradients over time and space based on oxygen isotope values of fossil shark teeth and bivalves from La Meseta formation in Seymour Island, Antarctica.

Lana Krol, DVM

undergraduate at the Univ. of California, Santa Cruz and graduated in 2007

Bio: As an undergraduate at UC Santa Cruz, I joined Sora as a student researcher for her PhD dissertation project. She was a superb role model who encouraged her team to formulate new ideas and think outside of the box. Working with her was the boost I needed in deciding to work intimately with animals and apply for veterinary school. A decade later, I am lucky to have her as a friend and sounding board.

photo credit and an article about Lana's current work -