Randy Klabacka

Evolutionary Biologist


About Me

I'm a PhD candidate at Auburn University broadly interested in understanding the agents responsible for earth's biodiversity and the path to a phenotype (evolutionary history, genomic, transcriptomic, physiological, and organismal). I use techniques in genomics, phylogenetics, and physiology to answer questions within this realm of biology. I mostly work in squamate reptile systems (because I have an unexplainable love for them!), but I am also interested in evolutionary questions better addressed using other systems (e.g., amphibians, crustaceans, birds, insects, and "fish"). In addition to my life as a graduate student, I also enjoy sports and spending time in the outdoors with my family. Feel free to contact me with any questions!

Graduate Research

Grad Research

In 2016 I began a PhD with Dr. Tonia Schwartz and Dr. Jamie Oaks at Auburn University. I am captivated by the coevolutionary relationship between mitochondrial and nuclear genomes. I am interested in the role sexual reproduction plays in maintaining a healthy mitonuclear marriage, and for my dissertation am examining the effects of parthenogenesis (true asexuality) on mitochondrial dysfunction using physiological methods within a phylogenetic context. This central aim has led me to the Southwestern United States, where I catch lizards (sexual and asexual) which are used as a model for understanding consequences of asexual reproduction in the mitochondria (see The powerhouse of asexual collapse?)

Undergraduate Research

Undergrad Research

As an undergraduate I joined the labs of Dr. Jack Sites and Dr. Chad Hancock. During this time, I discovered a love for hypothesis-driven science. I worked on projects centering on mitochondrial bioenergetics and phylogeography of Central America and Southeast Asia. Within these opportunities I developed questions, collected and analyzed data, and made inferences regarding our findings. I am very grateful to Jack and Chad, and mentors Dr. Perry Lee "JR" Wood, Dr. John "Keoni" Kauwe, and Dr. Byron Adams for helping me cultivate a passion for evolutionary biology.

Early Life

Early Life

Growing up in the unforgiving Mojave Desert, one quickly learns of life’s struggle for existence. The persistence of animals in such an environment fascinated me, particularly the reptile biodiversity in the backyard of my childhood home. Because my family did not have cable TV or videogame consoles, my brothers and I spent our time outside exploring, catching lizards, and digging up fossils.