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We're a motley crew that share a love for science, nature and having fun! 

Jason L. Brown
Primary Investigator

As a youth, he explored the outdoors of rural South Dakota developing his love for amphibians and nature. He fostered these interests by majoring in biology at Moorhead State University Minnesota and then took the academic road, getting his Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies in Biology from East Carolina University in 2009.

Since 2003, Jason spent over 33 months in the tropics studying and observing amphibians, traveling much of Central and South America and Madagascar.  One of Jason's oldest research interests is on the behavioral ecology, phylogeography, and taxonomy of Neotropical poison frogs. His interests in poison frogs existed before his academic career, and continue to deepen with his growing knowledge of their seemingly endless phenotypic variation and complex mating, parental care and social behaviors.  Today Jason studies a broad array of things, most of his research focuses on temporal and spatial variation in habitats and how they influence the generation and maintenance of biodiversity.

Likes: ​Traveling, hiking, canoeing, backpacking, camping, racquetball, folk and bluegrass music, genealogies, smoked and cured meats, cheese, beer, scotch, fossil hunting, woodworking, strategy board games, pinball, retro video games, football, terrariums, aquariums, container gardens

Sofía Granados-Martínez, Masters Student

SIU Master's Fellow


Sofy is a masters student studying the biodiversity patterns of amphibians in Costa Rica (where she is from) and in Peru. Sofy completed her Licenciatura degree in Zoology at the University of Costa Rica where she worked with Dr. Fernando Soley-Guarda and Dr. Jennifer Stynoski studying the space use patterns and visual acuity of the strawberry poison frog (Oophaga pumilio).  In her spare time, Sofy loves to explore, whether it be the cloud forests of Costa Rica or walking around her neighborhood in Carbondale.  She also loves good coffee, watching movies, and reading books.

Sara Depa
Undergraduate Researcher
Animal Guru and Lab Swiss Army Knife


Sarah is an undergraduate student studying zoology with a specialization in animal biology and a minor in environmental studies. She is from Arlington Heights, IL which is a suburb of Chicago. Sarah has previously done some work with genotyping sturgeon, but more recently has worked with the Cooperative Wildlife Research Lab to capture white-tailed deer fawns for the SIU Deer Project. In the Brown Lab, Sarah aids in maintenance and feeding some of the in-house frog residents and loves getting greeted by their little chirps. She enjoys learning about human-related disturbances and how we, as an individual and as a community, can reduce our impact on other species. She hopes that in the future she can be an advocate for conservation and spark big change. Outside of animals, Sarah enjoys hiking, painting, and doodling.

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​BreAnn Geralds, MSc
Doctoral Student


BreAnn is broadly interested in research regarding dendrobatid life histories, including how behavior, genetic, and environmental factors lead to speciation events. She is an alumnus of SIU after attaining her undergraduate degree in zoology with a focus on herpetology and conservation. She then obtained her master’s degree from East Carolina University working with Dr. Kyle Summers identifying differentially expressed genes in the brains of begging Ranitomeya imitator and Ranitomeya variabilis tadpoles to pinpoint the mechanisms underlying the evolution of begging behavior and parent-offspring interactions. Her love of dendrobatids and her master’s lab brought her back to SIU to work with Dr. Jason Brown investigating speciation mechanisms in Ameerega poison frogs.

When not obsessing over frogs, BreAnn loves hiking or anything outdoors, crafting just about everything, playing DnD, reading, writing, pinning insects, watching football, and caring for her mini zoo of herps.

Jasmine Weber-Pierson, MSc
Doctoral Student

Jasmine is a doctoral student at SIU that is currently starting a project studying the driving factors of the changing distributions of three different species of geese in west-central and southern Illinois with Dr. Jason Brown and Dr. Michael Eichholz. She completed her master's degree in Sweden at Linnaeus University with advisors Dr. Mariëlle van Toor and Dr. Jonas Waldenström where she created a project in which she investigated how the use of the agricultural landscape and potential exposure to agricultural pollutants at a stopover location in Sweden affected the immune system health in mallards (Anas platyrhynchos). In her spare time, she spends most of her time hanging out with her two bunnies, Kiwi and Belle, or going for walks or hikes in nature. She also loves cooking and trying out new recipes. 

Nathan Burke
Undergraduate Researcher
Tadpole Sherpa

Nathan is a junior zoology major specializing in animal biology. His research interests include animal behavior/genetics and conservation. He loves working with animals and caring for them giving me a bond with the animals is the real reward. Nathan hopes to expand my lab and animal prowess in the future with projects and working with fellow zoologists.

Robert Wray
Undergraduate Researcher
Tadpole Ninja
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Robert is an undergrad zoology student who hopes to get his PhD in animal behavior and behavioral ecology. Robert is interested in mating behaviors, mutualistic relationships (and why some animals are more willing to work with members of another species than others) animal intelligence, and changes that may lead to speciation (such as the sea wolves of British Columbia)

Likes/hobbies include: reading (especially fantasy novels), writing, playing D&D and board/card games, mythology, rum, learning interesting/little-known facts about any subject, and animals of all kinds. 

Aleida Iriarte
Undergraduate Researcher

Future director of all things science

Aleida comes from Chicago, though she was born in Cochabamba, Bolivia. She is an undergraduate at SIUC studying zoology and biochemistry. Her academic interests include biodiversity, conservation, evolution, sustainability, mammalogy, herpetology, chemistry, and nearly anything that helps discover the secrets of the natural world. She works in Dr. Brown’s lab as an undergraduate assistant. Outside of school, her interests include hiking, hammocking, traveling, herping, and most outdoor activities.

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