Julia Saltz

Assistant Professor of BioSciences

I am interested in the genetics and evolution of behavior, especially within-population variation in behavior. Social behavior, in particular, represents an exciting opportunity to study developmental and evolutionary feedbacks because the social environment itself can change and evolve. Learning, our other main focus, represents a powerful and common mechanism by which animals change their behavior, but the evolution of learning is still poorly understood. These areas of focus illustrate how population-genetic variation is orchestrated by a complex interplay between genetic variation and experience in the environment. To answer these questions, I draw inspiration from, and work to integrate, animal behavior, psychology, evolutionary ecology, and genetics.

I completed my A.B. at Princeton University, my PhD with Andy Sih in the Population Biology Graduate Group at the University of California, Davis, and my postdoc with Sergey Nuzhdin at the University of Southern California.  My full CV is here.

I teach Animal Behavior (EBIO 321) in the spring semester, and I participate in teaching in the Graduate Student Core Course (EBIO 585/586).  I run the Women in BioSciences group.

Charlotte Hovland

Lab Manager

University of Chicago, B.S Biology, B.A. Geophysical Sciences, 2018
Joined the Saltz Lab in August of 2018
I look after the fruit flies and attend to general lab tasks. If you can’t find me in the lab, I’m probably in the autoclave/steam kettle room, cackling over my bubbling cauldron.

Eric Wesley Wice

PhD Student

My research addresses how interactions between natural selection and social selection shape the structure and evolution of social groups. Integrating quantitative genetics, social network theory, nutritional geometry, and the genetic tools available with the Drosophila melanogaster study system, I seek to understand how ecological forces interact with social behaviors, to shape the social environment individuals experience. I received my B.S. from the University of Virginia in 2013, joined the Saltz Lab at Rice in 2015, and advanced to PhD candidacy in 2017.

Madeline Burns

PhD Student

My research focuses on how and why variation in learning exists between and within species - particularly how differences in individual environmental experience combine with differences in the neural mechanisms of memory and recall to produce variation in learning ability. Through comparison of the model organisms D. sechellia and D. simulans, I am seeking to increase understanding of the genetic basis of variation in learning - coupling learning assays with quantitative genetics approaches. I received my B.S. in Biology from Texas A&M in 2012 and worked in industry before joining the Saltz lab in 2016.

Allison Jaffe

Undergraduate Researcher

Anu Dwarumpudi

Undergraduate Researcher

Ceyda Kural

Undergraduate Researcher

Claudia Xian

Undergraduate Researcher

Ellie Dullea

Undergraduate Researcher

Emma Every

Undergraduate Researcher

Frederick Cavallaro

Undergraduate Researcher

Sanjana Krishnan

Undergraduate Researcher

Simone Maddox

Undergraduate Researcher

Indigo (Indy) Saltz


Research interests include sniffing, shedding an unbelievable amount, telling everyone her feelings, and being a Good Girl.

Adam Geiger

Former Lab Manager
Now works at Facebook.

Ben Johnson

Former Undergraduate Researcher
Now a PhD student at Iowa State University.

C. Nick Keiser

Former Postdoc
Now a tenure-track assistant professor at the University of Florida

Celina Tran

Former Undergraduate Researcher

Evan Shegog

Former Undergraduate Researcher

Francie Hessell

Former Undergraduate Researcher
Now an MD student at Baylor College of Medicine

Haley Uustal

Former Undergraduate Researcher

Madeleine O'Brian

Former Undergraduate Researcher

Madeline Adams

Former Undergraduate Researcher
Now a masters of public health student at Harvard

Ogechukwu Anwaegbu

Former Undergraduate Researcher
Now at Texas A&M University

Rachel Marren

Former Undergraduate Researcher
Now serving in AmeriCorps

Raleigh Anderson

Former Undergrad and Lab Manager
Now getting his MD at McGovern Medical School at UT Health

Samuel Gao

Former Undergraduate Researcher

Tracy Douglas

Former Postdoc
Genetic variation in mating systems

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