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Adolfo Lara

Adolfo Lara

PhD Student, Richard Gilder Graduate School
PhD Student, Richard Gilder Graduate School



  • 2013–present PhD Candidate in Comparative Biology, Richard Gilder Graduate School and Division of Invertebrate Zoology, American Museum of Natural History; Expected graduation September 2017
  • 2008–2013 Undergraduate studies in Biology, University of Houston-Downtown; B.S. in Biology - Cum Laude, Graduated May 2013

Research Interests

From the Deep Ocean to Deep Conscience: Evolutionary Origins of Neural Networks – Sea anemones, jellyfish, and their relatives (cnidarians), as one of the earliest diverging metazoan (multicellular animals) groups possessing an organized neural network, can provide a unique window illuminating the origin of neural systems in all animals. Substantial nervous network studies exist for later diverging, more anatomically complex model organisms such as roundworms, fruit flies, and mice. Earlier diverging metazoans like anemones, however, require similarly comprehensive studies, as their less complex neural networks provide an opportunity to determine similarities and differences in structures, properties, and capabilities when compared to later evolving metazoan neural networks.  As part of my PhD dissertation, I seek to explore the diversity of neural networks in cnidarians.  Specifically, I will determine similarities and differences in structures, properties, and capabilities of neural networks of early diverging metazoans focusing on cnidarians and within them in sea anemones; this diversity will be compared to later evolving metazoan neural systems and networks.



  • Schreiber, H.L. IV, Koirala, M., Lara, A., Ojeda, M., Dowd, S.E., Bextine, B. and Morano L. (2010) “Unraveling the First Xylella fastidiosa Subsp. Fastidiosa Genome from Texas” Southwestern Entomologist 35(3): 479-483.

In Prep.

  • Brugler M.R., Lara A. & Rodríguez E. Development of novel molecular markers for species-level identification of sea anemones (Cnidaria, Actiniaria). In prep.
  • Rodríguez E., Erby M., & Lara A. Sea anemone fauna from Antarctic chemosynthetic environments. In prep.


Teaching Experience


  • Research Experiences for Undergraduate Near Peer, American Museum of Natural History, 06/04/2014 - 08/06/2014. Served as an informal mentor to an undergraduate student.
  • Peer mentor for Scholars Academy, University of Houston – Downtown, 08/2010 - 05/2012. Provided support, advice, and guidance for undergraduate students; organized volunteering events for undergraduate students.
  • Peer Lead Team Learning Math tutor, University of Houston – Downtown, 08/2009 - 05/2013. Provided tutoring services for students in college algebra, trigonometry and precalculus.