By: Jessica Cote
Adrian Melo Carrillo is a PhD candidate in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan. He studies the evolution of two endangered monkey species that live in Mexico, so Adrian travels there to collect samples. To prepare for his field research, he pulls on rubber boots, grabs a pair of binoculars, and heads outside to scan the trees for monkeys—and then runs to collect their poop when it falls to the ground! Back in Michigan, he extracts DNA from these fecal samples and performs population genetic analyses focusing on hybridization processes and immune-related genes. He performs his research with Dr. Liliana Cortes Ortiz.
Adrian was already quite familiar with Mexico before the research trips—he was born there and lived there until 2013, when he moved to Ann Arbor to start his Master’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan. During his childhood, Adrian spent a lot of time reading books about nature, especially endangered and extinct species like dinosaurs. His insatiable curiosity around living things motivated him to study biology for his undergraduate and master’s degrees, and to continue on to get his PhD. He encourages curious students to consider careers in biology and other sciences because these fields offer unique opportunities to ask, and attempt to answer, an infinite number of questions about nature.
In addition to doing research, Adrian greatly values and enjoys teaching students about science. He loves to hear what they think about unresolved questions in the field of genetics and suspects that he “can learn more from them than they can from me.” Adrian has been a Graduate Student Instructor for eight semesters at Michigan and hopes to teach and mentor students throughout his career. He’s looking forward to teaching high school students about genetics during MI DNA Day 2018!