PI: Amanda Larracuente
Graduate Students: Danielle Khost, Ching-Ho Chang, Xiaolu Wei
Postdocs: Beatriz Navarro-Domínguez, Lucas Hemmer, John Sproul
Research associates and technicians: Danna Eickbush, Shaun Jones,
Undergraduates: Isaac Wong, Taylar Mouton, Iain Speece, Sherif Negm, Eddyson Altidor, Anya Greenberg
Former lab members

Larracuente lab- 2019

Lab members:

Amanda Larracuente, Ph.D. (Principal Investigator)

Amanda earned her Ph.D. studying Drosophila genomics and sex chromosome evolution in Dr. Andrew Clark’s lab at Cornell University. During her postdoctoral training, she focused on the evolution of selfish DNA including the Segregation Distorter system of Drosophila melanogaster. Amanda is the Stephen Biggar and Elisabeth Asaro Fellow in Data Science.

Selected recent publications. Click here for a full list of Amanda’s publications or see her NCBI bibliography.

Graduate students

Danielle (Dani) Khost (Ph.D. candidate)

Dani is an E2G2 student working on the evolution and functional genomics of satellite DNA in Drosophila species. She is using deep real time single molecule sequencing from Pacific Biosciences to study the structural organization of satellite DNA loci in Drosophila genomes.


Ching-Ho Chang (Ph.D. candidate)Ching-HoChang

Ching-Ho is an E2G2 student working on Segregation Distorter in Drosophila melanogaster and Y chromosome evolution in  Drosophila. Before coming to Rochester, Ching-Ho worked with Dr. Chau-Ti Ting  at National Taiwan University on neo-sex chromosome evolution in Drosophila albomicans. Ching-Ho is a recipient of the Ernst Caspari Fellowship and the Messersmith Fellowship.

Selected publications:

Xiaolu Wei (graduate student)

Xiaolu is a Biomedical Genetics student studying how satellite DNA is regulated in the germline using functional genomics and cytogenetics.


Beatriz Navarro-Domínguez, Ph.D. (Postdoc)

Beatriz earned her PhD  studying B chromosomes in grasshoppers, in the Evolutionary Genetics Group at the University of Granada (Spain). As a postdoc, she has worked in a variety of organisms, from ferns to turtles, trying to understand how genomes evolve. Beatriz is now studying the population genomics of Segregation Distorter and the role of satellite DNA in genetic incompatibilities. She is jointly advised by Daven Presgraves and Amanda Larracuente.

Selected recent publications. See full list of publications on Beatriz’s google scholar page.

Beatriz Navarro-Domínguez, Francisco J Ruiz-Ruano, Josefa Cabrero, José María Corral, María Dolores López-León, Timothy F Sharbel, Juan Pedro M Camacho. 2017. Protein-coding genes in B chromosomes of the grasshopper Eyprepocnemis plorans. Scientific reports 7, 45200.

Beatriz Navarro-Domínguez, Josefa Cabrero, Juan Pedro M Camacho, María Dolores López-León. 2016. B-chromosome effects on Hsp70 gene expression does not occur at transcriptional level in the grasshopper Eyprepocnemis plorans. Molecular Genetics and Genomics 291 (5), 1909-1917.

Josefa Cabrero, Mohammed Bakkali, Beatriz Navarro-Domínguez, Francisco J Ruíz-Ruano, Rubén Martín-Blázquez, María Dolores López-León, Juan Pedro M Camacho.  2013. The Ku70 DNA-repair protein is involved in centromere function in a grasshopper species. Chromosome research 21 (4), 393-406.


Lucas Hemmer, Ph.D. (Postdoc)

Lucas earned his Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Kansas in Justin Blumenstiel’s lab. Lucas studied the evolution of meiotic recombination landscapes in different species of Drosophila in light of selfish genetic elements including transposable elements and centromeres. Lucas joined Amanda’s lab as a postdoc to study centromere evolution in Drosophila.

Recent publications:

Hemmer L.W. and Blumenstiel J.P.. 2016. Holding it together: rapid evolution and positive selection in the synaptonemal complex of Drosophila. BMC Evolutionary Biology. 16:91.

Blumenstiel J.P., A.A. Erwin, L.W. Hemmer 2016. What Drives Positive Selection in the Drosophila piRNA machinery? The Genomic Autoimmunity Hypothesis. Yale J Biol Med. 2016 Dec; 89(4): 499–512.

Hemmer L.W. and J.P. Blumenstiel 2018. BioRxiv Preprint 6/8/18. The Recombination Landscape of Drosophila virilis is Robust to Transposon Activation in Hybrid Dysgenesis.

John Sproul, Ph.D. (NSF postdoctoral fellow) 
John earned his PhD in Integrative Biology at Oregon State University in David Maddison’s lab. John studied species delimitation, phylogenomics, and repetitive DNA dynamics in ground beetles, and developed methods to improve sequencing results from historical specimens. John joined Amanda’s lab thorough a NSF-funded fellowship that aims to improve benchmarking and generate pipelines for transposable element annotation software, as well as to increase participation of underrepresented groups in science.

Selected recent publications. See full list of publications on John’s google scholar page.
Sproul, J.S.; Maddison, D.R. (2017) Sequencing historical specimens: successful preparation of small specimens with low amounts of degraded DNA. Molecular Ecology Resources, 17 (6): 1183-1201.
Sproul, J.S.; Maddison, D.R. (2017) Cryptic species in the mountaintops: species delimitation and taxonomy of the breve species group (Carabidae: Bembidion) aided by genomic architecture of a century-old type specimen. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 183 (3): 556-583.
Kanda, K.; Pflug, J.M.; Sproul, J.S.; Dasenko, M.; Maddison, D.R. (2015) Successful Recovery of Nuclear Protein-Coding Genes from Small Insects in Museums Using Illumina Sequencing. PLoS ONE, 10, e0143929.

Research associates and technicians

Danna Eickbush, Ph.D. (Research associate)

e-mail: danna.eickbush@rochester.eduflowers
Danna Eickbush attended the University of Arizona where she was introduced to the wonders of molecular biology and immediately transferred to the newly formed Department of Cellular and Development Biology. She then joined the Ph.D. program in Cellular and Development Biology at Harvard University, characterizing the molecular structure and transcriptional patterns of the 71C-E region of Drosophila melanogaster while in the lab of Dr. Peter Cherbas. After moving to upstate New York, she did a postdoc with Dr. Jack Werren studying the selfish B-chromosome Paternal Sex Ratio (PSR) in the wasp Nasonia vitripennis. For the last 25 years, she has worked as a research associate with Dr. Tom Eickbush at the University of Rochester. The long tenure with her husband allowed Danna to study many aspects of the life cycle of the retrotransposable element R2, including its regulation and transcription. Danna works on the regulation of satellite DNA expression in Drosophila species.

Selected recent publications. Click here to see Danna’s PubMed list.



Shaun Jones (Technician)ShaunJones2

Shaun is a skilled fly wrangler who  maintains the lab’s fly lines and helps the lab with various projects.





Sherif Negm (undergraduate; Comp Bio/Data Science)

Sherif is using computational methods to study Segregation Distorter and repeat evolution in Drosophila.





Eddyson Altidor (undergraduate; Biology)

Eddyson is using molecular methods to study variation in centromeric retroelements in Drosophila.




Anya Greenberg (undergraduate; Data Science)

Anya is a data science student working on developing a bioinformatic pipeline to study repeats.





Isaac Wong (undergraduate)

Isaac is using computational and cytogenetic methods to study repeat evolution in fireflies and Drosophila species.





Taylar Mouton (undergraduate)

Taylar is studying the function of multi-copy Y-linked gene families in D. melanogaster and the simulans clade species.



Iain Speece (undergraduate)

Iain is a computational biology major studying the functional genomics of satellite DNAs in D. melanogaster.

Former lab members

Undergraduates: Christian Silva (grad student UC Davis), Thanatcha (Kwan) Khunkhet, Linhe (Alex) Xu (grad student at Vanderbilt ), Danielle Pascua, Arif Kodza (MD student at SUNY Downstate), Taylar Mouton (grad student at Johns Hopkins); Isaac Wong (bioinformatician, Harvard MGH)

Rotating graduate students: Steven Messer, John Bettinger, Omid Saleh Ziabari, Nilima Walunjkar, Yingying Liang, Lauren Gregory