Press "Enter" to skip to content


Amazon Warriors of the Laskowski Lab

Dr. Kate Laskowski

Kate is interested in all things behavior, fish and variance partitioning. Kate did her B.S. (2006) at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) and her Ph.D (2013) at the University of Illinois. After graduation, she moved to Berlin Germany where she worked at the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology & Inland Fisheries until starting at UC Davis in 2019.

email: klaskowski .at. ucdavis dot edu            Laskowski CV_2023_public_short


Abby Trocinski (Lab manager)

Abby is broadly interested in the neural mechanisms that underly behavior, particularly in social situations.  She is passionate about creating an inclusive, diverse and safe space to conduct science.  In her free time, she loves to spend time with animals, be in nature, swim, and listen to music.

email: atrocinski .at. ucdavis dot edu

Postdoctoral researchers

Dr. Ammon Perkes

Ammon is most interested in how individual behavioral decisions govern the formation of social groups, and vice versa. He completed his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania studying songbird courtship, and his current work focuses on the winner effect and social dominance in the Amazon mollies. Ammon loves rock climbing, dungeons and dragons, and automated tracking of animal behavior.

Email: aperkes .at. ucdavis dot edu

Ammon's website

Dr. Jay Gallagher

Jay is broadly interested in the fuel of evolution: phenotypic variation. He studies the origins of variation, investigating how and why it's generated, maintained, and eroded, and the role that it plays in diversification. Jay currently uses the Amazon molly system to answer questions about the emergence of behavioral variation among individuals. He received his PhD in 2023 from the University of Denver in Robin Tinghitella's lab, where he studied the rapid diversification of novel mating songs in an island cricket. In his free time, Jay enjoys composing music, playing tennis, designing games, and eating delicious food.

email: jhgallagher at ucdavis dot edu

Jay's website

Ph.D. Students

Jon Aguinaga

Jon Aguiñaga (Population Biology)

In general, Jon is interested in exploring how information acquired from the social environment is combined with personal information in order to influence behavioral decisions. He believes Bayesian modeling approaches may be useful in this endeavor and will inform well designed experiments. Previously, he modeled the effects of social information on the accuracy of individual assessments using stochastic simulations in R at Washington State University with Dr. Gomulkiewicz and Dr. Watts. He loves long drives with good music!

email: jaguinaga .at. ucdavis dot edu

Kirsten Sheehy

Kirsten Sheehy (Animal Behavior)

Broadly, Kirsten is interested in the variability and persistence of plastic behavior in both time and space. She is interested in understanding the mechanisms that drive variation in behavior and this variation may, in turn, impact the surrounding environment. Kirsten believes that without diversity, equity, and inclusion it is impossible to conduct good science. She is committed to utilizing activism and outreach to make academia accessible and welcoming to all people.

email: kasheehy .at. ucdavis dot edu

Sanaa Khan (Population Biology)

Sanaa is interested in how environment and genetics influence decision making relating to social interactions. She hopes to explore female competition and aggression, as well as potential cooperative behavior in amazon mollies. She did her masters at NISER, India focusing on interspecific interactions between Streptomyces bacteria and termites. She has also worked on modelling cooperation in the context of biparental care. She enjoys reading science fiction and spending time with cats (dogs will also do in the absence of cats)!

email: sqkhan .at. ucdavis dot edu

Siobhan Calhoun (Animal Behavior)

Siobhan is interested in how animals respond to social and environmental stimuli, starting on the molecular level and ultimately exploring physiological and behavioral outcomes. She is hoping to explore decision making processes, communication and signal formation, and social behaviors like cooperation and competition in the Amazon mollies. She is also hoping to learn more about science communication and how to make STEM fields more accessible for everyone. In her free time, she's usually baking, reading, or taking in the outdoors!

email: skcalhoun .at. ucdavis dot edu

Max Chin (Population Biology)

Max is excited to apply modern bioinformatics to the Amazon molly system in investigating genomic differentiation between clonal lines and patterns of historic introgression. He earned his undergraduate degree in Biology at Texas A&M University and has background in studying hybridization in Xiphophorus swordtails with the Rosenthal Lab and the application of phylogenetic comparative methods to study sex chromosome evolution with the Blackmon Lab. He has a deep love for computational evolutionary biology, travel, and inclusive science!

email: mzchin .at. ucdavis dot edu

Max's personal website

Undergrad Researchers

Amelia Engelsgjerd

Amelia is interested in exploring new topics and learning as much as her mind can absorb. She loves spending time in nature and playing her violin or singing whatever is stuck in her brain at the moment. She is excited to expand more in the research field and be more involved in the scientific world!

email: alengelsgjerd .at. ucdavis dot edu

Mia Thuilot

Mia is a third year studying Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation biology. She is interested in animal behavior and how animals make decisions. She is thrilled to work on two different experiments in the Laskowski Lab, one being animal behavior and another on brain stimulation. In her free time she likes to lay in the quad and read or listen to music!

email: methuilot .at. ucdavis dot edu

Nishika Raghavan

Nishika is a second year majoring in genetics and genomics. She is excited to work on research at the Laskowski Lab as she is interested in learning more on why animals behave the way they do. During her free time, she loves to dance, read, and spend time with her friends and family.

email: niraghavan .at. ucdavis dot edu

Emma Chirila

Emma is a junior studying Biological Sciences on the pre-vet track. She’s thrilled to be engaged in research projects investigating fish predation’s ecological impact. Outside her studies and lab work, she enjoys working out, playing tennis and reading—as well as joining Mochi (pictured), her roommate’s dog, on fun walks!

email: eschirila .at. ucdavis dot edu

Aarav Sharma

Aarav is a first year majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular biology. He is very excited to be working on using machine learning to track fish behavior. During his free time, he likes to watch sports, go to the gym, play video games, and watch movies with his friends.

email: arvsharma .at. ucdavis do edu

Lab Alumni

Monse Garcia (Undergrad Researcher)

Candice Mitchell (Undergrad researcher)

John Liu (Undergrad fish whisperer)

Dr. Chia-chen Chang (Postdoc; next: Principal Analyst at the Singapore National Environmental Agency)

Liam Bassler (Undergrad researcher)

Karen Kacevas (Lab Manager)