Who we are

Jonathan P. Velotta, PhD, Assistant Professor and Principal Investigator

Jon is an evolutionary biologist whose research merges physiological ecology and genomics. He is driven by a desire to understand how animals work, and the mechanisms by which they adapt to their environment. He loves vertebrates, and studies both mammals and fish.

Jon got his PhD from the University of Connecticut with Eric Schultz. He was an NIH postdoctoral fellow with Zac Cheviron at the University of Montana, before he arrived at DU in September 2020.

Peter Nimlos, Masters Student

Peter joined as a masters student in Fall 2021, but aims to complete a PhD with the Velotta lab. He has an undergraduate background in physiology, and recently completed a canine behavior internship at Wolf Park. He currently enjoys researching the genomics and physiology of deer mice in high altitude environments. After graduating from DU, Peter plans on pursuing a research-based career in wildlife ecology. When not on campus, you can find him biking, hiking, or skiing in the Colorado mountains.

Lacey Conrad, PhD Student

I’m very excited to be joining the Velotta lab!  Animals have been my passion since a very young age, and it was a surprise to no one when I decided to go to school for Zoology.  My research interests are generally focused on the physiological differences between groups of animals and how they are shaped by their environments.  More recently, I have become interested in utilizing Big Data generated through genomic analyses of these differences including data pipelines and engineering.

I grew up in Maryland, although my family is originally from North Carolina.  I have managed to collect a few degrees over the years, with the most recent being a Master’s in Data Science.  Professionally, I have worked in many diverse fields.  I worked in biotech for a few years as a histologist and radioimmunoassay process scientist.  More recently, I spent several years working at history and children’s museums.  

In my free time, I am an avid cook (I have a fondness for plant-based meals), a long-distance runner, a computer and tabletop gamer, and from time to time, I have been known to work a sewing machine.   Reading is one of my most time-consuming hobbies, and I have been known to read history textbooks (apparently, that makes you weird…).

Riley Corcoran, Masters Student

Coming from Central New York, Riley is excited to join the Velotta Lab group starting Fall 2022. She graduated from Colgate University as an astronomy-physics undergrad with a minor in biology, and while unsure of future plans, she is excited to see where the field of evolutionary biology takes her. In the lab, Riley will be studying the adaptation genomics of alewife fish populations along the east coast. When outside of the classroom, Riley enjoys relaxing in the new Colorado environment or indulging in needlecraft, especially cross stitch.

Undergraduate researchers

Nicole Choi

I am an upcoming senior here at DU majoring in biology with minors in chemistry and medical physics! I am currently preparing to apply to medical school and hope to work in the medical field in the future! I am passionate about subjects pertaining to anything animals and the body! I began the lab in 2020 and am so excited to see what my last year brings me! 

Jill Lewis – Gene expression responses to hypoxia acclimation in deer mice