Dr. Liliana Cortés Ortiz
Research Associate Professor
Ph.D. Biological Sciences, School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, Norfolk, England
M.S. Neuroethology, Universidad Veracruzana, Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico
B.S. Biology, Universidad Veracruzana, Veracruz, Mexico
Liliana's interests include the evolution and systematics of Neotropical primates. Her work has been focused on phylogenetics and phylogeography of howler monkeys (genus Alouatta), as well as other Neotropical primates. She is also working on the characterization of a hybrid zone between A. palliata and A. pigra, sister species that diverged approximately 3 million years ago and are currently hybridizing in southeast Mexico. Additionally, she uses molecular tools to understand patterns of primate behavior and to establish a basis for primate conservation.
Current Lab Members
PhD Candidate (2017-Present)
M.S. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology - University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2017)
B.S. Biological Sciences - University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Susanna is coadvised by Ben Winger and Liliana Cortés-Ortiz at the University of Michigan. She is interested in studying the impact of gene flow on speciation and patterns of biodiversity. Susanna also completed her Master's degree at the University of Michigan, with the Cortés-Ortiz lab in 2017. She explored nucleotide and amino acid diversity in the oxytocin gene, which is uniquely diverse within New World monkeys, and especially the Atelids. Outside of the lab, Susanna enjoys playing video games and finding new hobbies to try out.
Ph.D. Candidate (2016-present)
B.S. Biological Sciences, University of Michigan- Dearborn
B.A. Anthropology and French, University of Michigan- Dearborn
A.S. Liberal Arts, Schoolcraft College
Molly is working toward understanding the genetics of reproduction in the howler monkey hybrid system. From genotype to phenotype, Molly explores the reproductive genes that differ between the two species and their patterns of introgression, as well as sperm morphology differences between the two species and their hybrid offspring. Molly is also working on co-evolutionary analyses of sperm-egg binding proteins within each species. From these approaches, Molly hopes to further our understanding of the factors that play a role in reproductive isolation during hybridization events. In her free time, Molly can be found all around the world chasing birds and other cool animals for her wildlife photography hobby, reading all sorts of books, cooking a variety of worldly dishes, and spending time with her friends, family, and her partner and their cats.
Adrian Melo Carillo
PhD Candidate (2015 - Present)
M.S. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2015)
B.S. Biology, Universidad de Las Americas Puebla, Cholula, Mexico
Adrian is originally from Mexico, where she completed my undergraduate studies at Universidad de Las Americas Puebla majoring in Biology. Adrian joined the Cortés-Ortiz Lab in 2013 for the Master’s program, where he evaluated genetic diversity and genetic structure of A. palliata populations in Mexico. As he transitioned into his PhD, he became interested in functional genes and decided to incorporate this interest into the lab’s main system, the A. palliata x A. pigra hybrid zone. He developed a project to investigate the effects of interspecific gene flow on immune related genes, specifically MHC genes. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling and football (soccer) and pretty much any excuse to spend time with his family and friends.
Past Lab Members
Dr. Marcella Biaz
PhD student (2013-2019)
Ph.D. Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2019)
M.S. Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2013)
B.S. Biology, Grand Valley State University
Marcella studied the genetics of hybridization and speciation in howler monkeys. She used genome-wide data in a natural hybrid zone (A. palliata x A. pigra) to identify loci that underlie adaptive divergence and reproductive isolation. She is also interested in the role of sex chromosome evolution in speciation and is currently using deep resequencing to try to identify the evolutionary breakpoint for the neo-sex chromosome in A. palliata. Marcella is now at Pennsylvania State University as a post doc, continuing her work on molecular genetics and evolution.
Masters student (2016-2018)
M.S. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2018)
B.S. University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
Through Xorla's work in the Cáceres lab, she began thinking about ways we can control for vector borne diseases in the tropics by properly managing ponds. Xorla realized, she was fascinated by the questions pertaining to how disease spreads, how to control for diseases to reduce outbreaks, and the environments in which parasites thrive. Xorla's Master's research investigated the evolutionary histories of howler monkeys and their pinworms to see if the diversification history of the pinworms reflects the evolutionary histories of the howler monkeys. If there is a strong correlation between pinworm evolutionary history and their howler monkey host’s evolutionary history, exhibited through mirrored phylogenies, it suggests a certain degree of host specificity and dependence. Besides research, Xorla enjoys playing rugby, dancing, and singing. One day, She also hopes to publish her own book of short stories. Xorla is continuing her passions studying disease at Emory University, North Carolina.
Patricia K.S. Billette
Research Assistant (2015 - 2017)
B.S. Fisheries & Wildlife Sciences, Oregon State University
Patricia is interested in studying patterns of genetic diversity and the biological processes that give
rise to them. She is particularly focused on the applications of genetic research to conservation and
Master's Student (2014-2016)
M.S. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Delaney completed her Master's degree with the Cortés lab. She worked on the population genetics of Alouatta pigra in Mexico. Her work found a high degree of connectivity between populations.
Master's Student (2013-2015)
Sergio completed the Frontier's Masters program with the Cortés Ortiz lab. For his thesis, I studied the diversity and evolutionary history of Peruvian red howler monkeys. Sergio is now working on his doctoral degree at Stanford University, California with the Hadly lab.
Masters Student (2013-2015)
Audra completed the Frontier's Masters program with the Cortés Ortiz lab. She is currently working on her PhD at University of California, Los Angeles, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.