The Sobel Lab

Binghamton University (SUNY) - Dept of Biological Sciences

Biodiversity | Evolutionary ecology & genetics | Genomics

The lab group eager to "get to work" in October of 2019.

The lab group eager to "get to work" in October of 2019.


Jay Sobel, PhD - principal investigator

I am broadly interested in the ecological and genetic basis of adaptation and speciation, and I primarily use the emerging model plant genus Mimulus to answer questions about these fundamental processes. I received my dual-major PhD at Michigan State University from the Department of Plant Biology (MSU-PlantBio) and the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, & Behavior Program (MSU-EEBB). I was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Oregon in the Institute for Ecology and Evolution (UO-IE^2).


Haley Arnold, PhD student


I received my BS in biological sciences from the University at Buffalo, where I worked with Dr. Charlotte Lindqvist examining the distributions of brown bears in Alaska as influenced by climate change. I joined the Sobel lab in the fall of 2015. My current interest is in characterizing the genetic basis of habitat choice traits in plants such as seed dormancy and dispersal that contribute to reproductive isolation, along with their association with fitness traits. Outside of the lab, I enjoy hiking, video games, podcasts, and expanding my houseplant jungle.


Kelly Bakker, PhD student


I'm interested in understanding evolutionary processes through the study of domesticated species. Currently, I am co-advised by Dr. Andy Merriweather (Anthropology) and Dr. Sobel, and my work focuses on coat color genetics of South American camelid species. I graduated from Binghamton University with my bachelor's degree in biological sciences in 2018. In my spare time, I enjoy working with and riding my horse, Alvin. 


Caroline Gilmore, PhD student


I am a first year PhD student in the Sobel lab. I received my bachelors from Stony Brook University with a specialization in developmental genetics. During my undergraduate studies, I was a volunteer at the Stony Brook Teaching Greenhouse as well as an intern for a private plant genetic engineering start up. From there, I entered Binghamton University as an MA student and transferred into the PhD program in the Fall of 2019. I am currently researching life history evolution and reproductive isolation in Mimulus. Outside of the lab, I enjoy knitting, hiking, and taking care of my tropical fish.


Irene Martinez, PhD Student


I received my BS in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University at Galveston, where I worked with Dr. Jessica M. Labonté assembling and characterizing the transcriptome for the fireworm Paramphinome jeffreysii. I am a first year PhD student interested in the genetic basis of postzygotic barriers in Mimulus. Outside of the lab, I enjoy listening to music, reading good books, and watching my Houston Astros win.


Brian Kissmer, MA Student


I use ArcGIS mapping software and MaxEnt species modeling software to assess the extreme diversification of the Astragalus genus. I’m an MA in Biology graduate student at Binghamton and am currently applying to PhD programs in Applied Ecology and Conservation Biology. In my free time I like to spend time in the outdoors and grow plants!


Molly Moran, Undergraduate


I’m an undergraduate studying Cell and Molecular Biology from Trumbull, Connecticut. I am working on the study system Mimulus ringens, and I am interested in the genetic basis of a life history transition in this species. I plan to complete an honor’s thesis before graduating this spring. I joined the lab in the winter of 2017 and outside of the lab, I enjoy playing the saxophone, hiking in ridiculous places, and falling into creeks.


Matthew Schwartz, Undergraduate


I’m a senior majoring in Biology, and I’m interested in crossing barriers in the Mimulus genus. I plan to complete an honors thesis focused on reproductive isolation between 3 species of Mimulus in the Sobel Lab before graduating this spring. For fun, I enjoy playing with my kitten, Egg, reading and camping.


Audrey Branzinski, Undergraduate


I am an undergraduate preparing for early graduation with a B.S. in Biological Sciences. I love genetics, running gels, sorting seeds, and growing plants in the lab. I also love volunteering with my professional fraternity (APO) and swimming.


Lab alumni

Kelly Vest, MS 2019

Alexandra Leslie, MS 2019

Alex Turo, MS 2016: currently PhD candidate in the Translational Plant Sciences Graduate Program at Ohio State University