Lab members

Principal Investigator
Graduate Students
Undergraduate Students & Interns


Surangi W. Punyasena
Associate Professor, Associate Head, and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Plant Biology (2008 – present)
Affiliate, Program in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology
Affiliate, Department of Geography
Affiliate, Department of Geology
Affiliate, Illinois Informatics Institute

Postdoctoral Fellow (2007-2008), Center for Tropical Paleoecology and Archaeology, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
US Fulbright Fellow (1998-1999), Peradeniya University, Sri Lanka

PhD, SM, Evolutionary Biology, University of Chicago (2007)
BA, Yale University (1998)

Surangi is broadly interested in all applications of fossil pollen and spore research, from paleoecology to paleoclimate reconstructions to forensics and biostratigraphy. Since arriving at Illinois, she has developed an active research programming applying computer vision and machine learning to pollen and spore analysis, thanks in part to productive collaborations with colleagues at the Institute for Genomic Biology Core Facilities, the Illinois Informatics Institute, and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.


Michael A. Urban
PhD, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (2015)
MS, University of Wyoming  (2008)


Derek Haselhorst
PhD student; Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology (Spring 2012-present)
MS (2011), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Ingrid Romero
PhD student; Plant Biology (Fall 2015-present)
MS (2014),  Seton Hall University


Rose Aubrey, (11/2015 – present)


Richard S. Barclay, PhD, Department of Paleobiology, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Claire Belcher, PhD, Senior Lecturer, Geography, University of Exeter, UK

Timme Donders, PhD, Assistant Professor, Geosciences, University of Utrecht, Netherlands

Charless C. Fowlkes, PhD, Associate Professor, Computer Science, University of California, Irvine

Glenn Fried, PhD, Core Facilities, Institute of Genomic Biology, University of Illinois

Cindy Grimm, PhD, Research Associate Professor, Engineering, Oregon State University

Stephen T. Jackson, PhD, Director, U.S. Department of the Interior Southwest Climate Science Center, University of Arizona, Tucson

Carlos Jaramillo, PhD, Staff Scientist, Center for Tropical Paleoecology and Archeology, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Washington Mio, PhD, Professor, Mathematics, Florida State University

J. Enrique Moreno, Technician, Center for Tropical Paleoecology and Archeology, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Chi-Ren Shyu, PhD, Professor, Computer Science, Informatics Institute, University of Missouri

Mayandi “Shiv” Sivaguru, PhD, PhD, Core Facilities, Institute of Genomic Biology, University of Illinois

David K. Tcheng, Senior Audio Signal Analysis at GoPro


Post doctoral

Luke Mander
Post-doctoral researcher (3/2011-9/2012)
PhD, University College Dublin, Ireland
Currently, Lecturer, Open University, UK

Lenny Kouwenberg
Visiting scientist (1/2009-3/2009)
PhD, Utrecht University, Netherlands
Position at departure: Post Doctoral Researcher, University of California, Berkley



Alejandra Restrepo (MS, Plant Biology 2017)
Jacklyn Rodriguez (MS, Plant Biology 2016)
Cassandra Wesseln (MS, Program in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology, 2015)
Stefan Johnsrud (MS, Plant Biology 2012)


Undergraduates, interns, and research assistants

Sruti Devendran, US-India Khorana fellow, 6/2015-8/2015
Maksim Sergeyev, undergraduate, IB 10/2014 – 4/2015
Akshaya Ramanan, undergraduate, IB Honors, 9/2014 – 8/2015
Priyanka Srinivasan, undergraduate, ACES, 1/2013-5/2013
Yocelin Bello, undergraduate, IB 199, 1/2013 – 5/2013
Makayla Wycoff, undergraduate, IB 199, 1/2013 – 5/2013
Marissa Vinson, undergraduate, IB 199, 1/2013 – 5/2013
Jacklyn Rodriguez, undergraduate, Anthropology/Geology, 10/2012 – 8/2014
Shivangi Tiwari, international undergraduate, 5/2012 – 7/2012; 5/2013 – 7/2013
Anthony Barkan, SROP intern, 5/2012 – 7/2012
Ambika Kesar, continuing education, 8/2011 – 8/2013
Laura Gallagher, undergraduate, ESE, 8/2011 – 5/2012
Vishnu Nair, graduate, CS, 8/2011 – 5/2012
Rahul Panchal, undergraduate, IB 199, 8/2011 – 12/2011
Jessica Matthiesen, undergraduate, IB 199, 8/2011 – 12/2011
Diane Takouam, undergraduate, Chemistry, 8/2010 – 5/2012
Ashwin Nayak, undergraduate, IB Honors, 8/2010 – 5/2014
Erik Noorts, undergraduate, IB Honors, 8/2010 – 12/2012
Ava Holz, undergraduate, IB Honors, 8/2010 – 9/2012
John Walsh, undergraduate, IB 199, 8/2010 – 12/2010
Huigang Yang, graduate, ECE, 8/2010 – 8/2011
Christopher Holmes-Singh, undergraduate, IB, 8/2010 – 5/2011
Michael Donovan, undergraduate, IB, 6/2010 – 6/2011
Stephanie Chang, undergraduate, IB, 6/2010 – 5/2012
Caroline Martorano, IB, 1/2010 – 5/2011
Yuelin Du, graduate, ECE, 1/2010 – 5/2010
Colleen Lindsey, graduate, Anthropology, 10/2009 – 5/2013
Hongqiang Sun, graduate, Statistics, 1/2009 – 5/2009
Cassandra Wesseln, IB Honors, 8/2009 – 5/2012
Christopher Leisering, undergraduate, IB Honors, 8/2009 – 5/2010
Eileen Hou, undergraduate, MCB, 1/2009 – 5/2009


CS = Computer Science; ECE = Electrical and Computer Engineering; ESE = Earth, Society, and the Environment; IB = Integrative Biology; MCB = Molecular and Cellular Biology