Jeanne Small
NSF Program Director

I am happy to serve as the NSF EPSCoR Program Director for this project. Questions? Feel free to contact me at

Humberto Ortiz Zuazaga
I am interested in the bioinformatics of next generation sequencing, especially gene expression analysis, and high-performance computing. My research moves between discrete algorithms, statistics, and computational systems. I like to juggle, and sometimes drop the ball, both in real life and in research topics. I like to think I'm getting better.
Research Gate
Riccardo Papa
Principal Investigator (PI)

With my research I seeks to explain the origin and maintenance of biological diversity at the level of individual, populations, and species. I utilize methods of behavior, population genomics, phylogenetics, developmental biology, biochemistry, and functional genomics. Overall, my interests focus on understanding how new phenotypes arise and evolve. I am particularly interested in linking genomic polymorphisms with all the intermediate steps in the chain of causation, from genetic perturbation to phenotypic variation. I am actively exploring the molecular mechanisms that contribute to variation in butterfly wing color pattern, visual and chemosensory properties. Ultimately we want to understand the interactions between genotype and phenotype, and the mechanisms that generate novel variation.

Jose Rodriguez-Martinez
Senior Personnel
Rodriguez-Martinez LabLinkedInTwitter
Michelle Borrero
My research interest focus on undergraduate biology and K-12 math and science education. I use my training in Immunology to develop various initiatives to strengthen the Biology curriculum at UPR- Rio Piedras and to develop professional development opportunities for K-12 teachers. Currently I am developing a Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) on the context of our research to understand the genome to phenome relationship. Specifically, my interest is to identify the CURE’s impact on students’ development of research skills. Some of my other responsibilities include being the Director of the Center for Science and Math Education Research (CSMER), through which we provide support to other discipline-based education researchers and to other scientists that are interested in outreach opportunities to K-12 schools. In addition, I am Co-PI of another NSF-funded project to develop and strengthen computer science education in Puerto Rico.
Alfredo Ghezzi
I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras. My research interests revolve around the molecular basis of adaptation. Through the integration of molecular genetics, behavioral analyses, and neurophysiology, I strive to resolve how cells utilize a finite number of genes to carefully modulate its activity and adapt to an ever-changing environment, with the main focus on the epigenetic mechanism that controls gene expression.
Research Gate


Steven Van Belleghem
Research affiliate - Evolution - Bioinformatics - Working harder

I am broadly interested in the genetic principles that explain biological diversity. Fundamental questions that regularly make me go ‘bonkers’ are: “What is the connection between genotype and phenotype?”, “How does genotypic and phenotypic variation arise and how does it spread through a population?” and  “What mechanisms control the transitions that make us call something a different species?”

Personal websiteTwitterResearch Gate
Jesyka Melendez Rosa
I am broadly interested in animal behaviour, particularly in the fields of mate choice and mating systems. My previous work focused on the immunogenetics of mating behaviour in the monogamous California mouse: the 'monogamouse'. My work with the butterfly team will be focused on chemosensory recognition and mate choice in Heliconius butterflies.
LinkedIn Page


Briknie Báez

Undergraduate Student
Computer Science

Monica Narváez
Undergraduate Student
Valeria Santa
Undergraduate Student

My major interests are in genetics, genomics, and genome engineering as well as pursuing a research career in a biomedical environment. I'm also very drawn to the unknown.

Personal e-mailProfessional e-mail
Sofía V. Benítez
Undergraduate Studen
Jonathan Lozada
Undergraduate Student
LinkedIn Page
Eduardo Pérez
I am broadly interested in science education and how a research experience within the classroom impacts the development of a student. Some of my major inquiries are: "Which teaching techniques are appealing for a student to enjoy doing research? "and "How can the designing of an experiment be facilitated?" As a premedical student, I aspire one day to become a physician that not only teaches but also collaborates with his medical students on research studies.
Teomie Rivera Miranda
Graduate Student
I am interested in the genes involved in butterfly wing patterning of both Nymphalid and Hesperiidae families. In my project, I will focus on Epargyreus clarus, a member of Hesperiidae, commonly known as Skippers. The aim is to determine what gene(s) are involved in setting the boundaries of wing spots (yellow spots on forewings and silver spots on hindwings). Doing some RNAseq analysis along with in situ hybridization and CRISPR knockouts, I will be able to determine if the genes involved in these pattern boundaries are the same or similar between Skippers (Hesperiidae) and Nymphalids.
Coral Salort
Undergraduate Student
I'm an undergraduate student from the UPR-Río Piedras. I want to work on something I like.
María del Pilar Ortiz
Undergraduate Student
I am Michelle Borrero’s undergraduate student, we work in collaboration with Dr. Rodriguez-Martinez’s laboratory. I am a senior, will graduate in May 2019 and want to pursue a career in Veterinary Medicine.
Mayrangeli Torres
I am an Environmental Science undergraduate at the University of Puerto Rico. Always looking for new ways to improve myself and help others.