Lauren Sallan

Prof. Lauren Sallan, Assistant Professor
Email: lauren.sallan at

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Dr. Tai Kubo, Staff Scientist
Email: tai.kubo at

I am a vertebrate paleontologist and an evolutionary biologist. I excavated fossils, described some Mesozoic reptiles, and reconstructed the ecology of extinct tetrapods, mainly their diet and locomotion. I also investigated how the evolution of diet, locomotion, and body size occurred along with phylogenetic trees of dinosaurs and mammals. Here at OIST, I will work on basal tetrapods that invaded land. I will analyze micro-scale scars on their tooth surface that were generated during feeding and infer their diet through comparisons with modern analogs.

Dr. Isaac Trindade Santos, Postdoctoral Scholar
Email: isaac.trindadesantos at

I am a fish and fisheries biologist, I completed a master`s degree in ecology and conservation (both at the Universidade Federal de Sergipe, Brazil) and a PhD in biology at the University of St Andrews, Scotland ( My main interests are: community ecology, macroecology, and measuring how multiple biodiversity facets change in space and time. My research traverses ecological, evolutionary, and conservation perspectives, for example by simulating the effect of an environmental havoc, known as the “Mariana dam disaster”, on beta-diversity (, measuring the effect of marine fisheries on global taxonomic and functional diversity (, or mapping the global functional rarity of marine fish ( Here at OIST, I aim to answer two main key ecological and evolutionary questions by using the most updated phylogenetic tree of fishes (Fish Tree of Life), along with functional traits from FishBase and species distributions from AquaMaps. First, I am going to investigate if there is a significant difference between the functional traits of the “fish living fossil” depauperate lineages and those of their diverse close relatives. Second, I would like to shed light on the global biogeography of the phylogenetically distinctive species (or phylogenetically rare species) and test the influence of environmental and ecological factors on global fish biodiversity.

Chloe Nash, Postdoctoral Scholar
Email: chloe.nash at

I am an evolutionary biologist, with a focus on coral reef fishes. My research interests are on the integration of phylogenetics, assemblage patterns, morphological and ecological trait variation, and biomechanical potential of coral reef fish feeding modes to examine the evolutionary drivers of current species’ distributions and community compositions. I completed a BA in Biology and Environmental Studies from Wesleyan University and a PhD with the Committee of Evolutionary Biology (CEB) at the University of Chicago. The overarching goal of my PhD thesis was to explore the phylogenetics, evolution, and biogeography of the goatfishes (Family Mullidae), with a focus on their unique foraging behavior associated with substrate preferences and barbel use. To accomplish this, I inferred a comprehensive phylogeny using phylogenomics, examined global assemblage patterns using occurrence data, and assessed ecomorphological relationships between body and fin morphology with habitat use across the goatfishes. In my postdoctoral position in the Marine Macroevolution Unit at OIST, I plan to expand my research into the examination of population connectivity of diverse species, i.e. representatives of clades with variable modes of dispersal and life history traits, across the Ryukyus. In particular, I aim to test hypotheses about the morphological and life history traits associated with home range size, dispersal, habitat use, and population connectivity. The goal of this work is to identify informative traits that can be used to better predict dispersal potential across extant and fossil lineages. In my free time, I enjoy fish watching, cuddling with cats, and finding new cafes to try.

Nanako Okabe, Rotation Student
Email: nanako.okabe at

At university I worked on the wounding mechanisms of giant unicellular green algae. However, the unique appearance and diversity of the jawless fish that inhabited the Silurian to Devonian periods attracted me, then I am studying as a lab rotation student in this unit. How did the jawless fish that established kingdoms at that time feed? Did they compete with jawed fish? How did feeding traits influence the evolution of fish? I am excited by the possibilities in this field, including research using big data acquired from fossils and 3D models. I used to live on another small island in Japan so I love life in Okinawa. On weekends, I enjoy skin diving, watching baseball games and exploring izakaya!

Maria Lucia Reyes Suarez, Research Intern
Email: MariaLucia.ReyesSuarez at

I am a last-year biology student interested in understanding how aquatic systems behave biologically and ecologically. I have worked with zooplankton and macroinvertebrate communities in rivers and high mountain lakes in the Andes Mountain range in Colombia, emphasizing on diversity patterns and their exposure to invasive species. I am looking for an environment where I can increase my curiosity and passion for aquatic organisms and develop and improve my scientific and personal skills. In this way, at OIST I expect to participate in a community where I will freely share my ideas and knowledge, without any bias, in an inclusive environment where I can work with researchers from diverse backgrounds, in order to create more complex and comprehensive solutions and projects to any problems that arise.

Genki Togawa, Research Intern
Email: genki.togawa at

Now I’m not a researcher but I hope to be an evolutionary scientist. I’m working for the detachment system of insects so far. Specifically, with focusing on the structure of tarsus effective organs are searched. My current work is this but I desire to research evolution of microbe. That’s why I applied to OIST. In this internship period I would like to learn research methods and ‘biological evolution’ more deeply. よろしくお願いします Yoroshikuonegaisimasu

Rikako Ozaki, Research Intern
Email: rikako.ozaki at

I recently finished my master’s at the University of Auckland with a focus in species distribution modelling Oceanic manta rays and Spinetail devil rays, with a particular interest in the intersection between technology and conservation!! My fascination with these creatures started with a terrible sun burn - it was my first time on a boat and with blistered skin I hopped into the big blue and there was a huge Oceanic manta ray swimming past - and then I was hooked! Outside of manta watching I love diving, tennis, crocheting and eating good food. I am so excited to learn new skills and gain new experiences as a research intern at OIST!

Wahei Hagiwara, Research Intern
Email: wahei.hagiwara at

I was born in Okinawa and grew up here! At the University of Ryukyus, I majored in marine biology and especially studied brown macroalgae such as Cladosiphon Okamuranus(Okinawa Mozuku). In my thesis research, I was analyzing differential gene expression of Okinawa Mozuku which grow up in different nurseries by using RNA sequence method. So, I'm familiar with using command line, python to analyze gene expression. Paleobiology is a different field to it which I majored in, but I'm really interested in this field. I am especially interested in convergent evolution which we can see in the relationship between Ichthyosaurs and toothed whales. So, I want to learn new methods such as CAT scans of fossil teeth and to explore what they eat and how they move.

Yuxin Liu, Research Intern
Email: yuxin.liu at

I am interested in the adaptation and assimilation of marine organisms to global climate and environmental changes. I completed my undergraduate at Ocean University of China, where I worked on the ecophysiological response of brown algae to ocean acidification and eutrophication. After university, I used to study the photosynthetic genes of Chlamydomonas via high-throughput screening at Westlake University. During my master's at Tohoku University, I am exploring the diversity of epiphytic gastropods inhabiting seaweeds in northeastern Japan. My research experience includes morphology, physiology, genetics, and ecology investigations. The research intern at OIST will enhance my ability to integrate ecological research and molecular analysis. Also, I am looking forward to learning more about bioinformatics and genomics. I love swimming, scuba diving, and Judo. I enjoy diving during the field surveys and traveling.

Makiko Ajimura, Research Unit Administrator(RUA)
Email: makiko.ajimura at

I am originally from Osaka. My duties are to provide administrative support to enable the unit to function smoothly and effectively. I am overjoyed to have the opportunity to work closely with marine science as an RUA and contribute to developing the Okinawan economy as a part of the OIST community. I love diving, traveling, the ocean, and of course, Okinawa! I especially love to watch the school of fish, then stealthily join them. My other favorites are cats, plants, and collecting the straw baskets.


Peter Reynolds, Research Intern

I completed my Undergraduate and Masters of Biological Sciences at Cardiff University in the UK, where I completed my thesis on the conservation genetics of the illegally captured and trafficked Malagasy Ploughshare tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora), identifying population structure in the species and assigning poached and confiscated animals to a population of origin. I have also done work in Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) conservation and autopsy at the Otter Project UK and molecular genomics. I am currently working on durophagy of benthic organisms during the Mesozoic Marine Revolution. I also enjoy hiking, climbing and snorkeling around Okinawa’s amazing reefs.

Samuel Fisher, Research Intern

I am originally a conservation biologist from California, where I recently completed my undergraduate schooling in both biology and archeology, at La Sierra University. While I do have a background in archeology my research experience has been mainly restricted to biology. I have mainly worked on understanding life history traits of native and invasive reptile species and their parasites, in the USA and other countries. While I have enjoyed this work, I have decided to switch research paths and focus on working on fossil chondrichthyans. My research interests entail looking at fossil sharks responses to climate change, extinction, and speciation. 


Diala Edde, Research Intern
Email: d.edde at

I have completed my master's degree in Biology at the American University of Beirut. My main focuses are on ichthyology and molecular phylogenetics. For my thesis, I sequenced and analyzed the barcoding gene (Cytochrome c oxidase subunit I) of the species complex Sargocentron rubrum, commonly known as the Redcoat. I am also interested in several other fields, such as evolution and fish ecology, and I am excited to learn new research techniques in this internship.

Johannes Nicolaus Wibisana, Rotation Student
Email: johannes.nicolaus at

Website / Google scholar

I am both an experimental and computational biologist, where I used to work on transcriptional regulation and signal transduction in immune cells. However, my childhood dream was too become a paleontologist, which is how I found my way to this unit. Here, I am writing on dental microwear analysis on fish to shed a light on changes in diet during the fish-tetrapod transition. In my free time, I dive, fish, keep carnivorous plants, make web applications, make 3D models and print them, among other stuff.

Jam Zimmermann, Research Intern
Email:  jan.zimmermann at

I completed a master's degree in International Business in Copenhagen and used to work in the automotive industry in Germany. Now I am an undergraduate student in the 'Marine Ecosystem and Fisheries Science' program of the university of Hamburg with a focus on fish biology. I am very interested in the way fish adapt to their environment especially while experiencing drastic impacts such as climate change. I love diving, animal photography and traveling.

Leonardo Tozetto, Rotation Student
Email: l.tozetto at

Animals are incredibly diverse in terms of species, forms, and ways of life. For my PhD at OIST I am interested to explore and answer questions on how life has reached this impressive diversity and what events helped to shape it. I have completed my master’s in Entomology at Universidade Federal do Parana, Brazil. My thesis was on army ants flight phenology and its environmental drivers. I have also worked on side projects on ant taxonomy and comparative morphology. Which led me to continue my research on ant biodiversity during my internship in the Economo Unit where I could explore modern techniques to study ant morphology and evolution. In my free time, I enjoy swimming, hiking and trying ramen.

Carolin Madeleine Grether, Research Intern
Email: carolinmadeleine.grether at

I have completed my undergraduate studies in geosciences and am currently enrolled in the master’s program for palaeobiology in Erlangen University, Germany. During my undergraduate studies, I worked on the evolution of echolocation in cetaceans and have made my first steps into the world of phylogeny. In the master’s program, I am working on pterosaur flight evolution, but I am interested into any kind of vertebrate research, fish and reptiles as well as dinosaurs and mammals. I have also worked on a project about conservation palaeobiology and have recently developed an interest into dietary and dental record research. In my free time, I enjoy swimming, climbing, hiking and studying languages. I am looking forward to learning new skills during my research internship!

Adam Mohammed Hamzah Asmat, Research Intern
Email: adam.asmat at

I got my undergraduate degree in Zoology from The University of Manchester. My thesis was on the influence of trophic factors on bird skull evolution, looking at the effects of factors such as phylogeny, foraging strategy and diet composition on 150 different species from 13 orders. I found skull shape to be less determined by diet than commonly thought, with more explanatory effect being shown by, for example, evolutionary allometry. My main research interests include ecology, evolution and conservation. Some of my favourite hobbies are travelling, language learning, ice skating and snorkelling.