Yoder Lab members at the peak of Ryan Mountain in Joshua Tree National Park (Photo by Daisy Lopez)

Jeremy Yoder, the PI (or principal investigator) for the lab, grew up in Pennsylvania, went to school in Virginia and Idaho, and worked in Minnesota and British Columbia before joining the faculty at CSUN in 2017. He got into biology because he loves exploring the natural world, and because he belives understanding how living things work, and how they work together, can help people take better care of each other and the world around us. He’s way into science fiction — especially Star Trek — and he drinks too much coffee.

Graduate students

Albert Dang was born in San Jose, CA and grew up in the Bay Area ever since. He completed a B.S. in Zoology at San Francisco State University. During his studies he worked at the San Francisco Zoo and learned about animal husbandry. After graduating I worked as an assistant museum scientist at the Essig Museum of Entomology at UC Berkeley. What excites him about science is understanding of how the natural world around us works and how we can use that knowledge to better the world. In his free time he enjoys reading, video games, cooking, hiking, catching bugs, and board games.

Caitlin MacGregor moved around a lot growing up, but California is by far her favorite place that she’s lived. Cate received her B.A. in Biology from the University of San Diego and then moved across the country (again) to work as a research technician in the Physiology and Neurobiology department at the University of Connecticut. She loves studying biology because she loves learning about all the living things we share our planet with and how we can best protect them. In her spare time, she enjoys being outside, swimming and surfing, and making Spotify playlists for every mood imaginable.

Mikhail Plaza is originally from the Chicagoland area and received his B.S. in Biological Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Since undergrad, he moved to Las Vegas and has been working for the U.S. Geological Survey as a botany technician for the past few years. As a tech, he has been conducting plant ecology field research in the Mojave Desert focusing on common garden studies and post-fire landscape restoration. His research interests include plant genomics and molecular ecology especially in the context of climate change and local adaptation. In his spare time, Mikhail likes to read, play video and card games, travel and try out new places to eat.

Undergrad researchers

Daisy Lopez, who selected the Yoder Lab for her research experience with the CSUN BUILD PODER program, grew up in one of the hardest areas of Los Angeles, Watts, and she’s lived in five different states: New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, North Carolina, and California. Her family comes from a Mexican and Native American background (Navajo) so she’s lucky to have a very rich culture. Her interest is in plants with medicinal properties as well as plant adaptation to different geological formations (phylogeography). She usually disappears to the mountains once a month if possible to unwind from technology, and one of her hobbies is collecting plants to see if there are any medical properties, speaking to local tribes to learn about their historical or cultural value.


Nick Poulos hails from Wisconsin where he learned he never wanted to experience true winter again. He decided to go back to school and had the opportunity to come to California. Nick harbors unhealthy obsessions with Robocop, Korean barbecue, and above all else: insects. After taking the lead on the lab’s contribution to the GLUE Project, and tackling data management for a Joshua tree linkage map, Nick graduated and went on to doctoral research in Entomology at U.C. Riverside.