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The Margres Lab is always looking for undergraduate and graduate students to join the lab. See more information about the graduate program in the Department of Integrative Biology here. Contact Dr. Margres directly if you are interested.

Mark J. Margres, Ph.D.

I received a B.A. in Biology from Bethany College (KS) in 2011 and a Ph.D. in Biology from Florida State University in 2016 where I studied venom evolution with Dr. Darin Rokyta. I was then a postdoctoral researcher at Washington State University where I studied Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD) with Dr. Andrew Storfer until 2018. After Washington State University, I moved to Clemson University and was a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Dr. Chris Parkinson where I focused on snake genomics and venom evolution. I then moved to Harvard University as the Sarah and Daniel Hrdy Fellow in Conservation Biology where, with Dr. Michael Desai, I studied how multiple mutations affect tumor growth and transmission in DFTD. I was at Harvard University until I joined the faculty at the University of South Florida in Fall 2020.

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Samuel R. Hirst, Ph.D student

I graduated with a B.S. in Genetics, Genomics, and Biotechnology from Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah) in 2021 where I studied the use of eDNA to assess the effects of wildfires on aquatic biodiversity. At USF, I plan to use genomics and other techniques to identify the molecular mechanisms underlying rattlesnake venom variation at multiple scales.


Ella Guedouar, Ph.D student

I graduated with my B.A. in Psychology in 2021 and my M.S. in Environmental Science in 2023 from Florida Gulf Coast University. During my M.S., I studied human impacts on mammal, fish, reptile, and amphibian communities and biodiversity in the Peruvian Amazon. I am interested in wildlife responses to anthropogenic disturbance, and have previously worked with primate behavior, rattlesnake ecology, and African megafauna. At USF, I will continue to assess how humans are affecting wildlife using venom variation across human disturbance gradients.


Preston J. McDonald, Ph.D student

My planned research at USF will focus on the coevolution of venom and venom resistance in rattlesnakes and their prey. I have also been involved in research on the community ecology and microbiomes of paleotropical bats, species distribution and delimitation in blind Texas cave spiders, and conservation assessments of a rare Texas rodent population. Before coming to USF, I earned undergraduate and Master's degrees in biology from Texas Tech University.


Dylan Gallinson, Ph.D student

I received my B.S. in Biology from St. Petersburg College in 2017 and my M.S.P.H. with a concentration in Genomics from USF in 2022 where I was co-advised by Dr. Margres and Dr. Ryan McMinds. For my Master’s degree, I used genomic data and bioinformatics to study coevolution between Tasmanian devils and devil facial tumor disease (DFTD), a species-specific transmissible cancer. For my Ph.D, I will continue to use high-throughput sequencing data and computational techniques to study the evolution and coevolution of devils and DFTD.


Cameron VanHorn, Undergraduate

I am an undergraduate student currently pursuing a B.S. in Microbiology and a minor in Infection Control. I plan to study the molecular mechanisms underlying rattlesnake venom variation at multiple scales alongside Ph.D student Samuel Hirst. 

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Shantal S. Solis, Undergraduate

I am an undergraduate student currently pursuing a B.S. in Integrative Medical Biology.  I plan to investigate rattlesnake behavior on prey type preference in collaboration with Ph.D student Preston McDonald.

Lab Alumni

Rhett M. Rautsaw, Ph.D. (Former Postdoc)

Rhett was a postdoc in the lab from 2022-2023 and is now a Field Applications Bioinformatics Support Scientist for Pacific BioSciences. Check out Rhett's Github here


Lauren Trumbull (Former Undergraduate)

Lauren was an undergraduate student in the lab from 2021-2023 and is now a UFCVM veterinary student. 

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