LAB MEMBERS

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Rocio (upper left), Alejandra (upper right) Amado (left), Hugo (center) and Rodrigo (right)

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Hugo Benítez

Lab Director

In his role as Laboratory Director, Dr. Benítez has worked mainly on studying the morphological variation of organisms and how this integrated into diverse biological questions, using morphometric tools in Ecology, Evolution and Systematics.

Postdoctoral positions

Ingrid Alvial

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Biologist graduated from Universidad de Concepción, MSc and Dr in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (Universidad de Chile). During his master’s degree, Ingrid studied the top-down and bottom-up controls on the community structure of phytoplankton in the Chungará lake. In her doctorate thesis she studied the genetic and population structure in the cosmopolitan dragonfly, Pantala flavescens through mitochondrial and nuclear markers in continental and insular localities, in order to determine if a genetic differentiation patterns is reflected according increase in geographic distances, and specially in remote Pacific islands.

Currently, Ingrid is a postdoctoral research associate at the EME LAB, Universidad Católica del Maule headed by Dr. Hugo Benítez (supervise) in collaboration with the Ecology and Genetics Laboratory of Universidad de Chile, lead by Dr. David Véliz and the Entomology Institute of the UMCE, lead by Christian González.

Her research is focused on the morphological differentiation, genetic structure and presence of hybridization in the two biotypes of Culex pipiens (Cx pipiens pipiens and Cx pipiens molestus), along continental and insular localities in the national territory.

Margarita Correa

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Agronomist from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, MSc in Plant Protection and Doctor in Agricultural sciences (P. Universidad Católica de Chile). European Projects Engineer from the Université Côte d’Azur, Nice, France.

She studied Entomology at the Entomology laboratory of the National Agricultural Service (SAG), Chile. During her master thesis, Margarita studied the genetic and morphological characterization of cryptic mealybugs species (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae), key pest species on Chilean vineyards. She performed her doctorate thesis in the “Biology of Introduced Populations” laboratory at the Institut de la Recherche Agronomique et Environnement (INRAE) at Sophia Antipolis, France. She specialized in molecular ecology and population genetics to study the diversity and invasion routes of pest species.

She had a post-doc at INRAE on the biological control of an insect pest in the insular context of Corsica, France. Finally, in 2019 she had a position at the ASTREDHOR institute, Paris, France, where she studied the biological control of insect pests on ornamental plants.

In 2017 she started collaborating with the Molecular Ecology laboratory of Universidad de Talca to study the impact of endosymbionts carried by aphids (Hemiptera: Aphididae) on their invasiveness and in 2021to study the impact of climate change on the bottom-up and top-down relationships on the plant-aphid-endosymbiont system.

Currently she is performing a Post-Doc with Dr. Benitez at EME lab, in collaboration with the Universidad de Tarapacá, to study the effect of climate change factors in the field and endosymbionts of aphids in morphometric characters associated with invasiveness. Also, she collaborates in current research projects and topics from the EME’s Lab.

Doctorate Students

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Amado Villalobos

Biologists graduated from Universidad de Concepción.  His main area of work is devoted to evolutionary biology.  In his undergraduate thesis he performed an analysis integrating morphometric, ecologic and phylogenetic variables in the species sensulata of the native lizard Liolaemus pictus, in order to delimit species and propose conservation strategies.  For his master degree, at Universidad de Chile, he researched the association between digging character and performance phenotypes in a population of the native rodent Octodon degus, within a context of evolutionary ecology of behaviour.  Nowadays, in the Systematics and Biodiversity Doctorate Program, under the tutorship of Dr. Hugo Benítez, he intends to test phylogeographic and adaptive radiation hypotheses based on the wing variability of butterfly species from the genus Vanessa, using geometric morphometric tools.

Carolina Vilaseca

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Pharmaceutical Biochemistry graduated from the San Francisco Xavier University of Chuquisaca. In their master's thesis in Parasitology Carolina has investigated the sensitivity-resistance of the Anopheles pseudopunctipennis fly to pyrethroid insecticides in Bolivia. Among their research interests are the study of triatomines insects vectors of Chagas’s disease. I am currently studying the Doctorate Program in Biomedical Sciences at the Universidad San Francisco Xavier de Chuquisaca under the guidance of Dr. Hugo Benítez, investigating the morphological variability of populations of Triatoma infestans present in inter-Andean valleys and the Chaco of Chuquisaca, applying geometric morphometrics tools. During her PhD thesis currently three articles are published studying the morphological plasticity of T. infestans as mechanisms of biological adaptation, sexual dimorphism and Fluctuating Asymmetry.

Master Students

Pablo Lamilla

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Environmental Biologist and student of the Master Program on Biological Sciences at Universidad de Chile. His main research area has been focused on understanding aspects related with zoology, ecology and evolutionary biology. During his undergraduate studies, Pablo worked in areas related with animal behaviour, by studying the exploratory conduct of an endemic rodent of Chile in new environments and his degree thesis dealt with a long-term research about asymmetry patterns in a context of sexual selection of the endemic bird to temperate forests in Chile and Argentina, Aphrastura spinicauda (thorn-tailed rayadito). Currently, he intends to contribute to the knowledge of the proximate and ultimate causes explaining the diverse morphological and adaptability patterns of organisms, trying to understand and prove the importance of studying intra-individual morphological variability and developmental stability as a valuable early indicator of health and quality of life of natural habitats and wild animals, as well as the contemporary factors of environmental stress to which they may be subject. For this purpose, his master work intends to study the effect of pollutants in fluvial systems on fluctuating asymmetry of catfish populations (Trichomicterus aerolatus), using morphometric tools of the biological shape. Pablo works on his graduate thesis in the Ecology and Genetics Laboratory of the Ecology and Biodiversity Institute (IEB) at Universidad de Chile, headed by Dr. David Véliz, the Laboratory of Ecology and Evolutionary Morphometrics at Universidad de Tarapacá, led by Dr. Hugo A. Benítez and the Limnoecology Laboratory at Universidad de Playa Ancha, headed by Dr. Claudio Quezada-Romegialli. 

Scott Escobar Suárez

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Agronomic Engineer from Universidad de Tarapacá. He has worked mostly with insects. In his undergraduate thesis he performed molecular and phylogenetic analysis on Eugnosta azapaensis (Lepidoptera; Tortricidae). Currently is studying the MSc in Zoology at the Universidad de Concepción under the tutorship of Dr. Hugo Benítez and Co-tutorship of Dr. Mauricio Urbina. Their thesis species is part of the Dr. Benitez Fondecyt Grant: ¿Una mariposa sin mal de altura?: Estudio de la varianza metabólica y morfología alar de Vanessa carye (Hüber 1812) (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) a distintos gradientes altitudinales en el altiplano chileno (0-5200 msnm).

His Thesis principally will use animal physiology and geometric morphometric of wing in butterflies.

Laboratory Technician

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Rodrigo Órdenes-Claveria

Agronomic Engineer graduated from Universidad de Tarapacá.  During his undergraduate program, he studied the morphological adaptation of the non-indigenous species Bagrada hilaris in its invasive process over Chilean land.  Currently, he works in the laboratory of Dr. Benítez studying the morphometric variation processes in insects and currently is located in the city of Cochabamba in Bolivia doing studies in Graphic Design

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​​​​​​​Alejandra Fabres Contreras

Biologist specialized in Natural Resources and Environment. Their main interests of research are taxonomy and systematics, especially of invertebrates also with special interestest in evolutionary biology  to understand the evolutionary history of the studied taxa, and their effectiveness as a bioindicators.

Alejandra is the molecular technician of EME LAB and is based in the GEVOL Lab of the Dr. Marco Mendez at Universidad de Chile.

Past Students

Rocío Álvarez-Varas

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Veterinary, MSc Natural Resources and Dr. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (Universidad de Chile).  During his Master Degree, Rocío studied the morphological variation and phylogeographic patterns of six bird species from the genus Phrygilus. Her doctorate thesis was devoted to studying the morphological and genomic differentiation of Chelonia mydas (green turtle) in the Western Atlantic and Eastern Pacific, using geometric morphometric techniques and Next Generation Sequencing (NGS).

 

Currently, Rocío is performing a posdoctoral position at the Universidad Catolica del Norte, still working in collaboration in most of the project with the EME LAB and the Dr. Hugo Benítez.

External Posdoct

External Students

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Mónica Angulo-Bedoya

Process Engineer from UniversidadEAFIT, Colombia and PhD student in Engineering at the same institution. My research straddles the fieldof Geometric Morphometrics in Caiman crocodilus, specifically the populations studied by Medem(1981) distributed in Colombia. I have worked in biotechnology and taught ecology for 10 years to undergraduate students. My recent work involves the species complex Caiman crocodilus.

 

The work involves employing cutting-edge methods in morphometrics in order to conduct detailed comparative analyses of the morphological variation, ontogenetic development, and developmental biology of this species. I am trying to explain some of the relevant questions in morphology between the four subspecies recognized only in the Colombian territory. I have been part of EME lab since 2018 when I was lectured by Dr. Hugo Benitez and we published together the first Geometric Morphometrics study on Caiman crocodilus including the four subspecies. Presently,I am a Fulbright Visiting Researcher at The Field Museum of Natural History and the University of Chicago, instructed by Dr. Mark Webster.

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Left to Right: Franco, Rodrigo, Hugo, Scott, Amado

 

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