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, Phd Student

Peter joined as a masters student in Fall 2021, but has recently become a PhD student in the 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

From Central New York, Riley graduated from Colgate University as an astronomy-physics undergrad with a minor in biology in 2022. 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 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.

Emma Glenn, Laboratory Technician

Born and raised in Colorado, Emma is glad to be back after completing her undergraduate education at Duke University in 2021. Her background includes work on recessive lethal mutations in fruit flies and population demographics in cichlids, as well as a brief stint as a veterinary assistant. Passionate about all things related to evolutionary biology, she is particularly interested in ecological genomics, speciation, and how organisms adapt to inhospitable environments. Emma plans on attending graduate school in the next few years, but wants to refine her field of interest first. Outside of the lab, she enjoys hiking, herping, and writing short stories.

Undergraduate researchers

Braeden Strong, DU class of 2024

Maverick Bartholomew, DU class of 2024

Gone but not Forgotten!

Nicole Choi, DU Class of 2023

Jill Lewis, DU Class of 2022

Dutch, Lab Ambassador of Artificial Selection

Dutch has varied interests including mud, sticks, fetching tennis balls, and sleeping. He is a mix of at least 8 breeds of dog and is himself an experiment in canine genetics and artificial selection. He is currently most devoted to his work on chasing small urban animals without actually catching up to them.