Juan C. Santos -- PI

I am a molecular ecologist and evolutionary biologist with interest in ectotherms (frogs and lizards). My research is centered on: (1) Neotropical biogeography and physiological consequences of climate change on ectotherms; (2) Phenotypic adaptations and genomic-trasncriptomic bases of anti-predator defense mechanisms and sexual dimorphism; and (3) Systematics, taxonomy, and natural history of New World reptiles and amphibians. I used bioinformatic tools to address these research interests and I help collaborators to develop and implement such approaches for other biological questions (e.g., comparative analyses in ants and ecophysiology in plants). In 2017, I joined the SJU at Department of Biological Sciences (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences) as an Assistant Professor


PhD Students


Randy Ortiz

Randy is a Ph.D. student in biology. He completed his M.S. degree at St. John's University. He is currently utilizing python to develop a modular pipeline for transcriptomic, exome capture and gene identification research. He is very enthusiastic about teaching and fine dining.




Juan David Carvajal

Juan D. is a Colombian Ph.D. Student. After complete his bachelor's degree at the Universidad del Quindío, he worked in biological conservation on many Colombian ecosystems. He wants to study evolution of parental care, climate change, and evolution of coloration and autoresistence in poison frogs and lizards using a bioinformatics and phylogenetic approaches. Also, he likes study the impact of urbanization on genetic variability on Colombia herpetofauna. He likes communicating science, reading books, listening music, and watching diverse films.



Md Abu Bakar Siddique

Abu is a Biology Ph.D. student at St. John’s University that is rotating in our lab. He finished his BS from SUST, Bangladesh. Before starting his Ph.D. journey, he was working in the genomic lab of Mount Sinai Hospital. He wants to study the genetic mechanisms of disparity in disease outcomes among amphibian species using bioinformatics tools. He likes reading books, adventurous traveling, solving puzzles, and playing brainstorming board games like chess.




Master Students


Joseph De Leon

Joe is a BS/MS student in the Biology department at St. John’s University. He will complete his undergraduate degree in spring/summer 2021. He is interested in transcriptomics and protein evolution and immunity in amphibians. His interests are sports, reading, and teaching.




Undergraduate Students


Priyanka Gera

Priyanka is a sophomore double majoring in environmental science and Spanish with a minor in chemistry. She is interested in learning more about the applications of bioinformatics and is currently working on assembling transcriptomes of Neotropical frogs. On campus, she is the Culture Editor of the newspaper, The Torch, and the Secretary of Sigma Delta Pi. Her hobbies include spending time outdoors, reading and listening to music.



Victoria Akilov


Friends of the lab


William Capitano

Bill Capitano earned his MS from Hofstra University studying turtle ecology. For the past 15 years, Bill has taught science in high school and college. In his spare time, he enjoys the Yankees and spending time with family. During 2019, he will transition to research associate in our lab.




Past Members: Graduate Students


Christopher Rivera

Christopher finished his Master in Spring 2019. He developed many of the bioinformatics pipelines for transcriptome and exome capture reconstructions.





Benjamin de Leon III

Benjamin finished his BS/MS in Spring 2019. He worked on the coevolution of Amphibia mitogenomes and life history traits. He is currently doing his MD at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University.




Priyangi Jayasuriya

Priyangi finished her Master in Spring 2019. She worked on the coevolution of Amphibia mitogenomes and their environmental context. She is currently at Weill Cornell Medicine.




Maryna Vicinanza

Maryna finished her Master in Spring 2019. She worked on models of amphibian distribution with poison frog data. She is currently at Pfizer.





Past Members: Rotating Graduate Students


Leeann Christina Dabydeen (Spring, 2021) -- Biological Sciences MS student


Bijaya Gaire (Summer, 2018) -- Rotating Biological Sciences PhD student


Past Members: Undergraduate Students


Aashish V. Patel (Spring, 2021) -- Biology Undergraduate student


Carolyn Kosinski (Fall, 2020) -- Biology Undergraduate student


Qasim S. Hussain (Fall, 2019) -- Biology Undergraduate student


Gabriella Tjitropranoto (Summer-Fall, 2019) -- Biology Undergraduate student


Gabriella Sosa Medina (Summer, 2019) -- Biology Undergraduate student


Isabella Vargas (Summer, 2019) -- Biology Undergraduate student


Giang (Jacelyn) Vo (Spring-Summer, 2019) -- Biology Undergraduate student


Valeria Miranda (Spring, 2018) -- Biology Undergraduate student



Past Members: High School Students


Rochelle Avezki (Spring, 2021) -- Townsend Harris High School


James Tu (Spring, 2021) -- The Kew-Forest School


Rauja Khan (Fall, 2018) -- Queens High School for the Sciences