Outreach and Media Teaching


Chiari lab - Fall 2019 - From left to right: Lauren, Emma, Michael, Nick, Ylenia, Nathan, Mary, Soukaina, Sarah

Principal Investigator

Ylenia Chiari

I am fascinated by the diversity of life and I cannot think of a better way to study this diversity than by using an evolutionary approach. I am interested in many aspects of vertebrate evolution, but my work mainly focuses on morphological evolution of reptiles, on the impact of human activities, such as pollution, deforestation, captivity, and urbanization on reptiles and fish, and on the molecular basis of variation in longevity and cancer resistance in vertebrates.

I performed my undergraduate studies and Masters graduate work at the University of Pisa in Italy. I obtained my PhD from the University of Konstanz in Germany. I have worked in many different countries and in many different labs. As a woman scientist and as an academic mom, I am committed to increase participation of women - including the ones with children - in STEM.

In my free time, I love traveling and learning languages, reading, dancing, looking for animals, hiking, and practicing almost any kind of outdoor sport (on land or in water).

E-mail (remove spaces):
ychiari @ gmu.edu 

Graduate students

Nickolas Moreno

I received my Bachelors of Science from the University of South Alabama in May of 2016 and my Masters at the same University in 2019. I am currently a PhD student at George Mason University. My PhD project focuses on adaptation to hatchery conditions in fish. My Masters project focused on environmental influences on genetic diversity in the Alabama red bellied turtle. As an undergraduate student, I have also been working on projects focusing on the evolution of color patterns in geckos. In my free time, I enjoy traveling, playing rugby, and most anything that will keep me outdoors.

Brandon Hastings

I received my Bachelors of Science from Longwood University in May of 2020, where I studied the maneuverability and territoriality of dragonflies and birds. I am currently a Master's student at George Mason University. My project focuses on how colored nectar and petals function to attract vertebrate pollinators using lizards as a model species. I am also investigating if preferences for these visual cues are maintained across different species, even if they have never encountered the specific floral characteristics tested. In my free time, I like to play the piano and hiking.

                Undergraduate students

Wania Ayub

  Anastasiya Melnyk

Jason Motley

Past Members

Graduate students:

Nickolas Moreno (2016 - 2019) Biology, University of South Alabama

Nathan Katlein (2016 - 2018) Biology, University of South Alabama

Jared Elmore (2014 - 2016) Biology, University of South Alabama
Regis Burkhardt (2014 - 2018) Biology, University of South Alabama
Amber Simpson (2016) Educational Studies, University of South Alabama
Trenton O'Neal (2016 - 2017) Biology, University of South Alabama

Honor students:

Miranda Ray (2017-2018) Biology, University of South Alabama

Undergraduate students:

Sarah Scott (2019-2020) Biology, George Mason University

Kyle Blevins (2019) Biology, George Mason University

Mary Floyd (2019) Biology, George Mason University

Emma McAllum (2019) Biology, George Mason University

Michael Chavez (2019) Biology, George Mason University

Keith Keel (2019) Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University

Haziq Aziz (2019) Biology, George Mason University

Stephen Taglieri (2019) Biology, George Mason University

Last update October 2020
Copyright Ylenia Chiari