Sara’s interest in herpetology goes as far back as she can remember, and was greatly encouraged by her paternal Grandmother; she can remember telling her 5th grade teacher that she was going to be a herpetologist when she grew up. Although Sara has broad interests in herpetology, she focuses primarily on evolution and systematics, especially on snakes. Sara did her undergraduate degree at UMass Amherst, a master’s at the University of Central Arkansas, and received her PhD in 2013 working with Frank Burbrink at CUNY, where she examined the systematics of milksnakes, which resulted in re-elevation of several species in the genus. Sara’s postdoctoral researach at AMNH focuses on the phylogenetics of Malagasy snakes, the Pseudoxyrhophiines. This project uses both traditional Sanger sequencing as well as an anchored phylogenomics approach to help determine cryptic taxa, species trees, distributions, and ecological correlations with respect to phylogeny. The best part, being of course, that she gets to go to Madagascar to catch snakes (see an AMNH Science Bulletin video about Sara Ruane and Chris Raxworthy’s recent expedition here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04yVyEhLBeY)! Besides snakes, Sara loves poodles, the color pink, and chicken wings. You can learn more about Sara’s work at her website: www.sararuane.wordpress.com.
Systematics and evolution of snakes