Principle Investigator

Paul Barber
Paul H. Barber

Professor Paul H. Barber is an evolutionary and conservation geneticist. His  Ph.D. research at UC Berkeley focused on the dispersal of frogs among the  sky islands of the desert southwest, but turned his attentions to marine ecosystems of the Coral Triangle as an NSF postdoctoral fellow at Harvard. He moved to UCLA in 2008 from Boston University. Honors include the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award, UCLA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award, and the Life Science Award for Excellence in Educational Innovation.

Contact Information                Curriculum Vitae

Current Members

Austin Betancourt

Austin came from San Jose State University where she joined the lab in 2020 as a Masters student and as a PhD student in 2022. She is broadly interested in evolutionary ecology and conservation genetics in marine environments. Her current research involves using genomics to understand population structure, genetic connectivity, and signals of selection in Dungeness crab across its native range. In addition to research, she is also interested in increasing diversity in STEM and participation from community college students in research. She is a 2018 Diversity Project alumni.

Eric Caldera

Eric joined the lab in 2018 as a Smithsonian postdoctoral research fellow. He is interested in microbial evolutionary ecology and is exploring the dynamics of marine microbial diversity in the Coral Triangle biodiversity hot spot. Eric’s Ph.D. research at the University of Wisconsin – Madison focused on coevolution and population genetic structure among fungal and bacterial symbionts of fungus-farming ants in neotropical rainforests. While currently focused on microbes, he has also worked with invasive fire ants, argentine ants, and threespine stickleback. Eric’s teaching experience includes Microbial Ecology, Evolution & Diversity (UW-Madison) and Introductory Biology, Advances in Microbiology (California State University – Fullerton). Eric received his B.S. (Biology) from the University of Texas at Austin.

Elijah Catalan
Eli joined the lab as a Ph.D. student in 2020 in the Institute of Environment and Sustainability. His current research uses genomic-based biodiversity monitoring to understand the resilience of coastal and marine ecosystems to climate change on the West Coast. He is a class of 2020 alumnus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. where he earned a B.S. in biology and a B.A. in environmental studies. After finishing his graduate studies, Eli plans to enter a research-based career where he can help protect and empower those communities disproportionately impacted by environmental conditions and underrepresented in the field of environmental conservation. Eli is a 2018 alumnus of The Diversity Project.

John Amiel Flores

John Amiel joined the Barber Lab in 2021 as a PhD student. Their overarching research interest is in investigating and predicting how environmental change will affect coral reef ecosystems by understanding the interplay between the multiple scales of biology. John Amiel earned their B.S in Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity from UC Davis in 2021 where they worked with Dr. Rachael Bay and Dr. Anne Todgham. Alongside their research aspirations, John Amiel is dedicated to increasing diversity in STEM by continuing to mentor and teach students from underrepresented backgrounds and participating in outreach to make science more accessible. They are a 2022 alumnus of The Diversity Project. To learn more about John Amiel, visit their website here.

Onny Marwayana

Onny joined the lab as a master student in 2016 funded by USAID PRESTASI Scholarship. His current research focuses on using environmental DNA (eDNA) to ascertain the distribution and diversity of marine fishes across Indonesia and test the  efficiency of employing eDNA methods on time-series biodiversity monitoring. Since 2010, Onny has worked as a marine biologist in the Research Center for Oceanography, Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI). He holds a B.S. degree from Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia.

Madeline Pacheco
Madeline Pacheco

Maddie joined the lab in 2023 from UCSB where she was a McNair Scholar, graduating with a B.S. in Biological sciences & environmental studies. She is broadly interested in marine ecology, conservation and genomics, and is working on developing her thesis ideas.


Kevin Rodriguez

Kevin Rodriguez joined the lab in 2020 from University of Miami where he worked with Nikki Traylor-Knowles. He is using genomics and technical rebreather diving to explore local adaptation and gene flow in mesophotic coral reefs.



Erick Zerecero Marin

Erick Zerecero Marin joined the lab as a PhD student in 2018. His current research focuses on toxin producing dinoflagellates and their relationship with Turbinaria ornata, a dominant macroalga on human impacted reefs in Moorea, French Polynesia. Current studies examine the impacts of increased T. ornata density on toxin producing dinoflagellates. He received his B.S in Environmental Science and a minor in Conservation Biology from UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. He was awarded the 2018 NSF Graduate Fellowship and the Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellowship. He is a 2016 alumnus of The Diversity Project.