University of Connecticut University of UC Title Fallback Connecticut

Andrew Frank

About Me

I’m a PhD candidate and NSF graduate research fellow at the University of Connecticut. I study speciation and phenotypic evolution in Californian blue-tailed skinks. I work somewhere at the intersection of field work, pipetting at the bench, and programming. Prior to graduate school, I spent two years as a corps member in Teach for America, where I taught introductory science and engineering to high school freshman. I believe teaching is fundamental obligation of modern scientists. I’ve continued my teaching carrier in graduate school through my yearly field herpetology course, my development of a high school biodiversity and inquiry curriculum with UConn sophomore Madison Caballero, and guest lecturing.


Education

PhD CandidateUniversity of Connecticut, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 2013-present
Major Advisor: Elizabeth Jockusch, Ph.D.

Bachelor of ScienceAmerican UniversityDepartment of Biology 2007-2011
Thesis Advisor: David Carlini, Ph.D.
Senior Thesis: “Isolating Microsatellite Sequences for Development of Microsatellite Primers for Cave and Surface Amphipod Gammarus minus.”


Current Projects

Speciation in the Plestiodon skiltonianus species complex of Californian blue-tailed skinks

  • Testing a variety of methods to detect parallel speciation in western North American Plestiodon skiltonianus complex skinks
  • Examining contemporary reproductive barriers acting in the Plestiodon skiltonianus complex, as related to body size and juvenile tail color
  • Determining the adaptive role of pink juvenile tails in select clades of Plestiodon gilberti and Plestiodon lagunensis skinks

Reconstructing the evolutionary history of squamates

  • Testing support for root placements in the squamate molecular data set of Wiens et al. 2012 to resolve differences between morphological and molecular phylogenies of Squamata

Research Awards


Presentations

Frank, A., Jonathan Richmond, Alan Lemmon, Emily Lemmon, and Elizabeth Jockusch. Testing the parallel speciation hypothesis using phylogenomic data in Californian skinks (Plestiodon). Evolution 2016. Austin, TX. June 2016. PDF

Frank, A. Detecting Parallel Speciation of Western North American Skinks (Plestiodon): A Coalescent Approach. Oral presentation. University of Connecticut Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Tuesday Evening Seminar Series. Storrs, CT. October, 2014.

Frank, A. Parallel Speciation of Two Western North American Skinks (Plestiodon). Oral Presentation. University of Connecticut Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Graduate Student Symposium. Storrs, CT. March, 2014.

Frank, A., and Carlini, D. Isolating Microsatellite Sequences for Development of Microsatellite Primers for Cave and Surface Amphipod Gammarus minus. Oral presentation. American University Mathias Student Research Conference. Washington, DC. May, 2011 PDF

Frank, A., and Norenburg, J. Species delimitation of two nemertean worms: effective application of DNA barcoding. Poster presentation. American University Mathias Student Research Conference. Washington, DC. May, 2010 PDF


Teaching

Summer 2015 & 2016: Instructor, Field Herpetology – University of Connecticut

  • Implemented a new inquiry-based course component where students ask practical scientific questions about local herpetofauna, conduct hypothesis driven field research, and present results in a intensive three-week summer course

Fall 2014: Guest Lecture in Bioinformatics and Genomic Applications: “R applications for phylogenetics”

Fall 2013 – Spring 2014: Teaching Assistant, Foundations of Biology – University of Connecticut

Fall 2011 – Spring 2013: Secondary Science Teacher – Hartford Public High School, Hartford, CT

  • Taught for two years, as a Teach for America corps member, of a pilot freshman level science and technology course in the economically deprived Hartford Public Schools.
  • Helped institute a summer bridge program for middle school students transitioning into high school, resulting in improvement in participating student scores in freshman level science and technology.

Software

  • Decatenater – An R pipeline that accepts a nexus format concatenated nucleotide alignment as input, and outputs a number of useful files for each gene alignment that makes up the input concatenated alignment. These files include nexus and phylip alignments for the individual genes, a nexus file containing a PAUP block that executes PAUP’s basefreqs function per gene per codon position, and PartitionFinder configuration files for each gene. Decatenater also allows the user to exclude multiple sets of taxa from the input concatenated nexus file and outputs files that lack indicated taxa. Additional pipeline steps for Decatenater are currently in development, including automation of PartitionFinder, garli, RAxML, and BEAST analyses.

Press


Contact Information

Email: andrew.frank@uconn.edu

Phone: (845) 728-6551

Office: BPB 322

Mailing Address: Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Connecticut
75 N. Eagleville Road Unit 3043
Storrs, CT 06269

Andrew captures a skittish Coluber constrictor during Field Herpetology 2015

Andrew captures a skittish Coluber constrictor during Field Herpetology 2015

Head scales of Plestiodon skiltonianus, illustration by Andrew Frank

Head scales of Plestiodon skiltonianus, illustration by Andrew Frank

Andrew caving in the karst of West Virginia

Andrew caving in the karst of West Virginia