Former members


I developped my Ph.D. thesis on a process of incipient ecological speciation in the Caribbean octocoral Antillogorgia bipinnata. Understanding this process and to recognize the mechanisms promoting adaptive divergence are addressed in different ways. Classical ecological experiments with reciprocal transplants allowed us to understand the role of phenotypic plasticity as a promoter of genetic divergence. In turn, we implemented techniques of reduced representation sequencing looking for neutral-type SNP markers and the signs left by selection by outliers. In addition to deepening the process of incipient sympatric speciation, I am interested in addressing other questions in comparative genomics, gene evolution, regulation of expression and epigenetics.

You can find me as: if.calixto28 at ifboti at


As a marine biologist I am deeply fascinated by the creatures that inhabit the oceans, primarily by the organisms that construct coral reefs. Therefore, understanding and unraveling the mechanisms that support such a highly diverse ecosystem, are what drive my scientific quest. Up to now, I have studied the community of benthic foraminifera in coral reefs of the Caribbean region of Colombia, as a means to assess whether water quality is suitable for mixotrophic and calcifying organisms. Currently, I am eager to study symbiosis in reef environments, as it determines the very existence of this outstanding ecosystem.

You can find me as:m.gomezc1 at



I am a Biomedical Engineer and science enthusiast.

During my bachelor I worked in different fields of biomedical sciences taking classes in a broad range of engineering courses and basic sciences. Previous projects have led me to master different tools and approaches like computer science, biomaterials, tissue engineering, biomechanics and bionanotechnology. Some of the projects I’ve worked on in the past years are: patient record management for the transplant unit at Fundación Santa Fe de Bogotá (FSFB); design and production of a driving assistant prototype for patients with hearing loss; creation of membranes for dental alveoli after teeth extraction, and scaffolds for bone regeneration using 3D printing. The latter two projects focused on the use of materials like PVA, chitosan, coral and alginate.

My main interest lays in Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering. Thus I have begun a Master’s Degree in Biological Sciences, in order to study possible applications of natural materials in the biomedical field. Now my research is focused in the characterization of the biomineralization process in gorgonian octocorals.

You can find me as: sa.colmenares87 at / sthephaniecolmenares at



You can find me as: tm.velasquez10 at

Imagen 2

Currently, my research includes to evaluate larvae development and response to ocean acidification conditions in octocorals and to develop and implement new experimental methodologies for measuring octocoral calcification rates in mesocosm controlled environments, using colony fragments adapted and maintained in vitro under treatment conditions. We are interested in evaluating their resilience to elevated pCO2 treatments and exploring how the mechanisms of survival and calcification rates may be compromised. Also, I am trained in microscopy at the Paul Sabatier University at ITAV (Institut des Technologies Avancées en Sciences du Vivant), in Tolousse France through the Ecos Nord program, and at the Biophysics laboratories to which I also belong, for operating and improve custom Selective Plane Illumination Microscope (SPIM).


My research interests:

I’m interested on the biology of cephalopods. I had the opportunity to learn about the systematics of this group during my undergraduate studies, using approaches from the molecular biology and phylogenetic field. I’m looking forward to learn about the sensory biology of cephalopods on my future studies. I’m very interested on the evolution of the neural and sensory systems in these animals.

My projects:

I’ve been working on octopods systematics during my bachelor’s thesis, assessing the biodiversity of this group of cephalopods in the Colombian Caribbean Sea. I’m also preparing a manuscript abut geographic drivers of diversification in lolignid squids with other undergraduate colleagues, using phylogenetic tools and ecological niche modelling approaches. Lastly, I’ve been working on a project about the sensory insights we can get studying the molecular evolution of a superfamily of proteins, the GPCRs, on the Octopus bimaculoides genome. This last project has been developed under the guidance of Sönke Johnsen at Duke University.

You can find me as ea.ritschard10 at /

Elena You can find me as: e.quintanilla10 at


You can find me as: fl.gonzalez10 at