Members of the Yeh Lab

Principal Investigator

Pamela Yeh

Pamela is an evolutionary biologist and studies how human activities affect the evolution of species, focusing on the evolution of birds in urban environments and the evolution of drug-resistant bacteria in urban and agricultural areas. She is also interested in the role biology plays in public health, and how biological data and insights can both inform public health research as well as public health policy. She received her BA in Biology from Harvard-Radcliffe Colleges, her PhD in Evolutionary Biology from University of California at San Diego, and conducted post-doctoral work in the Center for Genomics Research at Harvard University and the Systems Biology Department at Harvard Medical School. She has been at UCLA since 2013. Pamela is also an External Faculty at Santa Fe Institute.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Elif Tekin

I am interested in developing deterministic models to better understand complex systems that are characterized by many components, whose interactions lead to properties that are not easily predicted based on the behavior of each component individually. These systems range from consumer-resource interactions in food webs, drug combinations used to treat bacteria and slow antibiotic resistance, as well as social interactions influencing strategies of individuals, decision-making processes, etc.

Portia Mira

My dissertation work focused on understanding the impacts of sub-lethal concentrations of β-lactam antibiotics on the evolution of β-lactamase resistance genes. I have developed mathematical models to compute transition probabilities across adaptive landscapes and have collaborated in developing methods to calculated antibiotic resistance trends in the hospital using bacterial phenotypic data. I am interested in investigating the effects of combinatorial and cyclical antibiotic treatments on carbapenem resistant enterobacteriacea (CRE) in order to better understand the evolution of CRE resistance mechanisms.

PhD Graduate Students

Tina Manzhu Kang

Tina is interested in unveiling the properties of interactions between various types of perturbation on biological systems. She's currently using bacteria as a model and studying the effectiveness of combinatorial drug therapy and its evolutionary impact on the development of drug resistance. She's also working on bacterial growth response to temperature stress at the interface of biochemical stress from antibiotics. 

Eleanor Diamant

I’m broadly interested in the intersection of anthropogenic change and avian behavioral ecology. In Pam Yeh’s lab, I’m working with dark-eyed juncos to unravel behavioral evolution in the urban environment, allowing us to not only see the affects of urbanization on avian behavior, but also to better understand behavioral evolution “in real time” as these birds are under a steep selection gradient between their urban and rural ecosystems. Previously, I completed an M.A. in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology at Columbia University and worked with hummingbirds to reconstruct the evolution of female-limited polymorphisms and begin determining the selective causes of the male-like female morph. In my spare time, I enjoy hikes with dogs, painting, exploring the LA art and film scene, and (quite unsurprisingly) staring at birds and other animals.

Natalie Lozano

Natalie is interested in how populations evolve and what factors potentially effect the rate of evolution. In the Yeh Lab her research focuses on the synergistic and antagonistic effects of drug combinations and how that can contribute to the evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. She received her BS in Biology at California State University, Long Beach and continued at CSULB to obtain her Masters degree. For her Masters thesis she used individual-based computer simulations to study the degree to which modular or non-modular genetic architectures may influence the ability of populations to respond to selection.

Sammy Cowell

I am a Ph.D. student in the Yeh lab with a Master’s in Ecology from Utah State University. I like birds. Specifically, I believe birds are good model organisms for studying how species adapt to novel environments, particularly anthropogenic ones. Studying birds within an urban community, such as Los Angeles, is also a great opportunity to engage local citizens and share my interests in birds and research with them. Besides birds, I enjoy watching a playing a wide range of sports, listening and dancing to all sorts of music, doing 3000 piece puzzles, reading the comic Calvin and Hobbes, and making my wife laugh. I also have a pet chameleon. His name is Jerry.

Dan Cooper

Dan is returning to graduate school for a PhD after working as a program director for the National Audubon Society and launching a successful environmental consulting business in the Los Angeles area. He received a Bachelor's degree from Harvard and a Master's degree in Biogeography from University of California, Riverside, analyzing patterns of bird and plant distribution in the Puente-Chino Hills. He is interested in ways natural communities in urban areas develop and persist, and what causes some species to thrive and others to fail. He will study the distribution and ecology of native species within the modified landscape of the Los Angeles Basin, focusing on nesting raptors and colonial waterbirds. He is co-advised by Dan Blumstein.

Master's Graduate Students

Maral Sakayan

Maral graduated from UCLA with a Bachelors in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology with a minor in Civic Engagement in June 2016. She now pursues a graduate degree in Biology investigating bacterial antibiotic cross resistance and how the parameter, known as the MPC (mutant prevention concentration), changes in these highly resistant bacterial strains. Following her graduate studies, Maral plans to attend medical school. In her free time, Maral enjoys spending time with family and exploring methods to decrease the influence of health disparities on medicine.

Ian Boucher

I am grad student in the Yeh Lab whose research focuses on the evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, and strategies to restrict selection of resistant mutants. Broadly, I am interested in applying evolutionary and ecological principles to medicine. Eventually I aspire to a career in clinical research and practice.

Crystal Gianvecchio

Crystal is currently working towards her Masters in Evolutionary Medicine and has been a member of the Yeh lab since the summer of 2015, where she studies antibiotic cross resistance in various bacterial strains. She graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and a minor in Gerontology. She plans to go to medical school in the future. Outside of research, she heads a UCLA volunteering organization focused on empowering the underserved LA community and likes reading, practicing instruments, and playing with her dog.

Felisha Wong

I graduated from UCLA June 2016 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and a minor in Theater. I am particularly interested in studying the evolution of animal species in response to the ever-growing human population and the way we have significantly impacted the environment we share with these animals. I especially love observing the behaviors of birds around me and trying to identify their relationships to one another (and seeing how close I can get to them before they hop along!) In my free time, I dance, sing, play the piano, or just sit around looking at what birds are doing.

Kailie Briza

Kailie is a master’s student at the Fielding School of Public Health in the Environmental Health Sciences department. She received her bachelor’s in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Environmental Studies at North Central College in Illinois. She is interested in the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the environmental public health implications this may have. She aspires to work as a consultant after completion of her program. In her free time, she enjoys riding horses, traveling, playing with her turtle, Swimmi, and going for runs along the beach.

Sam Bressler

I am interested in all things birds, particularly avian distribution and ecology. When not studying or doing research, I enjoy birding the local parks and ecological reserves.

Hayley Stansell

Co-advised by Peter Nonacs. I am broadly interested in behavioral ecology with an emphasis on animal behavior and ecology in human-dominated landscapes. I want to understand how and why certain species are able cope or thrive in these spaces, and consider what qualities of these spaces promote use by wildlife. While at UCLA, I am studying an urban population of dark-eyed junco (Junco hyemalis) which appears to be thriving in some areas of Los Angeles. I am interested in their habitat selection within LA, as well as shifts in behavior in response to urban life.

Research Technician

Cynthia White

Cynthia just recently graduated from UCLA with a major in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology. She has worked with Dr. Yeh for 4 years and plans to continue her research working as a laboratory technician for the next year. Cynthia is currently applying and plans to attend medical school next year.


Claire Henderson

I am a fourth year undergraduate biology major at UCLA. I am fascinated by the intersection of evolution and medicine, and I am excited be participating in such valuable research. Next year I plan to apply to medical school and one day become a pediatrician. In my free time, I love traveling, going to the beach, and exploring cute brunch places with my friends.

Gina Jin

My name is Gina Jin and I am a fourth year undergraduate majoring in Biology. I am interested in studying the effects of different antibiotic combinations on various types of bacteria, and I plan on furthering my education by attending graduate school.

Alondra Valencia

I am a third year undergraduate student majoring in Biology. I am interested in the effects of antibiotics on bacterial evolution, in order to effectively combat the rising incidence of antibiotic resistance. Outside of lab, I am a peer learning facilitator for Physics 6C, helping other undergraduate students excel in the course. My hobbies include going on hikes with my dog and going to the beach.

Rina Watanabe

My name is Rina Watanabe and I am majoring in MIMG. I am interested in antibiotic resistance and the interaction between temperature and drugs on bacterial growth. I plan on becoming an ER physician or a researcher at WHO or CDC. 

Nick Cully

Nick is a fourth year student studying Biochemistry. In lab, he works on the Mutant Prevention Concentration (MPC) team to study the effects of antibiotics on Staph Epidermidis. Outside the lab, he is a member of Navy ROTC, and works as a Resident Assistant for UCLA. His hobbies include working out, country music, and playing pickup sports.

Sharon Tang

I am a third year undergraduate majoring in Physiological Science and I hope to work in the health field in the future. I am glad be a part of the Yeh lab’s research into antibiotic resistance in bacteria. My other hobbies include music, reading, and drinking boba.

Kelley Brennan

I am a Human Biology and Society major with a concentration in Medicine and Public Health. I hope to attend medical school after I graduate from UCLA and become an orthopedic surgeon. My research interests include studying the dynamics between evolutionary biology and medicine. I love playing basketball, soccer, and beach volleyball. 

Nick Hu

I am a third year Biology undergraduate currently going to UCLA. I am interested in studying the differentiation of bacteria based on the presence of drugs added to their environments. More specifically, I want to utilize these studies of changes in bacterial growth going forward to aid in the development of medications or clinical design in the future. I enjoy spending my free time following or playing sports such as football and basketball. 

Nina Singh

I'm a sophomore studying Biomedical Engineering at USC, and I've been in the Yeh Lab since the summer before my junior year of high school. Recently, I've also started collaborating with the Savage Lab to do some biomath! When I'm not doing research, I enjoy painting, solving escape rooms, and exploring the LA food scene.