Lab members and alumni

Principal investigator

Jeremy B. 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 coming to CSUN in 2017. He got into biology because he loves exploring the natural world, and because he believes understanding how living things live and evolve together can help us take better care of our world, and of each other. He’s way into science fiction — especially Star Trek — and he drinks too much coffee.

Postdoctoral researcher

Lea K. Richardson is a postdoctoral scholar working with population genomic data to understand Joshua trees’ evolutionary history and local adaptation to desert climates. She earned her Ph.D. in the Plant Biology and Conservation Program at Northwestern University and the Chicago Botanic Garden; before beginning her doctoral research, Lea was a teacher at North Hollywood High School Highly Gifted Magnet, a public high school in Los Angeles. Lea is also an artist.

Current students

Pryce Millikin is a master’s student working to understand the climate requirements of pollinating yucca moths, and the impacts climate change may have on their mutualism with Joshua trees. He earned his BS in Botany from the University of Wyoming in 2020, and has previously studied the pollination ecology of endangered native plants of Hawai’i. Pryce’s upbringing on a cattle ranch nurtured a profound love for nature, fueled by a passion for science fiction and gardening, which ultimately drove him to delve into a future in biology.

Daniel Dakduk is an ecology and evolutionary biology major, working with the lab as his first research experience. He’s preparing data and planning to develop a species distribution model of toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia, an iconic shrub in California chaparral and oak woodlands. Daniel loves the outdoors, and in his free time he hikes and plays tennis.

Lab Alumni

Ana Karina Andrade is an undergraduate researcher working with models of population health in Joshua tree, and her scientific interests include environmental toxicology and the effects that chemicals can have upon local ecosystems and human health. She graduated in Spring 2023, and is now working with the vegetation restoration team at the USGS Western Ecological Research Center.

Sebastien Postajian is a cell/molecular biology, getting some experience in research methods and data analysis in preparation for medical school. He was born in and raised in the San Fernando Valley, and though he doesn’t identify as “the most outdoorsy type of individual”, he’s already working on the lab’s next contribution to the GLUE Project.

Ivett Perez is a biology major, born and raised in Southern California. She has always spent a lot of time outdoors, exploring nature. One of her passions in science is plants, and she’ll be working to model the habitat needs of a native California plant species.

Caitlin MacGregor moved around a lot growing up, but California is by far her favorite place that she’s lived. For her Master’s thesis, Cate used RADseq data to characterize population genomic evidence of local adaptation to climate in Joshua tree’s yucca moth pollinators; she also contributed extensive lab work and sample collection to the Joshua Tree Genome Project. Cate graduated in 2022, and went on to earn an accelerated teaching certificate in preparation for a career in K-12 science education.

Albert Dang completed a B.S. in Zoology at San Francisco State University, and worked as an assistant museum scientist at the Essig Museum of Entomology at UC Berkeley before becoming the first Yoder Lab graduate student in 2018. His Master’s project examined the role of pollen quality in determining the dynamics of Joshua tree’s mutualism with its specialized pollinators, and he graduated in 2021.

Mikhail Plaza worked for the U.S. Geological Survey as a botany technician for several years before joining the Yoder Lab in 2019. For his Master’s research, Mikhail’s completed a linkage map for Joshua tree and used it to better understand how the trees have adapted both to varying climate and to their specialized pollinators. Mikhail graduated in 2021, and went on to pursue a PhD from Northwestern University, in Chicago.

Maria Adjamoglian joined the lab while midway through here B.A. in Biology, and initially assisted with Alby Dang’s project. She transitioned into working on her own project alongside Michael Kolden to survey the diversity of weeds in the lawns of LA county parks. Maria graduated in 2021.

Michael Kolden worked with the Yoder Lab while pursuing a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. They conducted fieldwork in Los Angeles city parks to understand the distribution and diversity of weedy species in the lawns, and helped with Joshua tree sampling. Michael graduated in 2021.

Nick Poulos took the lead on the lab’s contribution to the GLUE Project, and tackled data management for the early stages of developing a Joshua tree linkage map. Nick graduated in 2019 and went on to doctoral research in Entomology at U.C. Riverside.

Daisy Lopez, worked in the Yoder Lab for her undergraduate research experience with the CSUN BUILD PODER program. Her interest is in plants with medicinal properties as well as plant adaptation to different geological formations (phylogeography).