Our lab includes biologists engaged in fieldwork, genomics, neuroscience, computational and behavioral studies. These varied approaches provide unique perspectives on social behavior, its diversity and its mechanisms.

Click on photos to learn more about individual lab members.


Steve Phelps, @evolbrain

Steve Phelps  Dr. Phelps got his PhD in Integrative Biology from the University of Texas in 1999. As a graduate student he received pre-doctoral fellowships from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and the National Institutes of Health. As a post-doc, he was a fellow at STRI and at the NSF Center for Behavioral Neuroscience in Atlanta. He was a faculty member at the University of Florida from 2002-2010, and joined the University of Texas in 2010. He is currently an Associate Professor of Integrative Biology, and the Director and co-founder of UT-Austin's  Center for Brain, Behavior and Evolution . He is a member of graduate programs in  Ecology, Evolution and Behavior ,  Cell and Molecular Biology ,  Neuroscience  and  Psychology . His lab has been funded by NSF, NIH and National Geographic. A full CV is available here.

Dr. Phelps got his PhD in Integrative Biology from the University of Texas in 1999. As a student he received fellowships from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and the National Institutes of Health. He was a post-doctoral fellow at STRI and at the NSF Center for Behavioral Neuroscience in Atlanta. In 2002 he became a faculty member at the University of Florida, and joined the University of Texas in 2010. He is currently a Professor of Integrative Biology, the Director of UT-Austin's Center for Brain, Behavior and Evolution, and President-elect of the Society for Social Neuroscience. At the University of Texas at Austin, he is a member of graduate programs in Ecology, Evolution and BehaviorCell and Molecular BiologyNeuroscience and Psychology. His lab has been funded by NSF, NIH and National Geographic. (A CV is available here.)

His research explores why individuals and species vary in their social behavior. The lab works at the intersection of social neuroscience, gene regulation, and evolutionary genetics.  His teaching includes courses in Human Biology, Behavioral Epigenetics, and Epigenetics and Society. Dr. Phelps uses his expertise in genetics, neurobiology and behavior to write and speak about the intersection of science and society. His writing for the public has appeared in Nature, The Atlantic, and Aeon. His essay in Aeon was listed as a notable literary essay in Best American Essays 2018. A video of a public talk on the biology of bonding is here.


Graduate students

Gerard Wallace. Behavioral neuroscience, animal movement models, mathematical statistics, memory and cognition. EEB.

Gerard Wallace. Behavioral neuroscience, animal movement models, mathematical statistics, memory and cognition. EEB.

Da-Jiang (David) Zheng. Behavioral neuroscience, epigenetics, animal communication. EEB.

Da-Jiang (David) Zheng. Behavioral neuroscience, epigenetics, animal communication. EEB.

Erin Giglio. Population genetics, genomics, sexual selection, energy balance. EEB.

Erin Giglio. Population genetics, genomics, sexual selection, energy balance. EEB.

Jason Ikpatt. Epigenetics, evolution and development. CMB.

Jason Ikpatt. Epigenetics, evolution and development. CMB.

Tracy Burkhard. Animal communication, sexual selection, population genetics. EEB.

Tracy Burkhard. Animal communication, sexual selection, population genetics. EEB.

Samantha Smith. Larynx structure, comparative genomics, animal communication. EEB

Samantha Smith. Larynx structure, comparative genomics, animal communication. EEB

Current collaborators

Hao Ling, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UT-Austin

Hao Ling, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UT-Austin

Michael Long, Department of Neuroscience, NYU School of Medicine

Michael Long, Department of Neuroscience, NYU School of Medicine

Jian Ma, Department of Bioengineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Jian Ma, Department of Bioengineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Larry Young, Department of Psychiatry, Emory University

Larry Young, Department of Psychiatry, Emory University

Past trainees

Polly Campbell, post-doc 2004-07, Asst. Prof., Dept. Biology, Oklahoma State Univ.

Polly Campbell, post-doc 2004-07, Asst. Prof., Dept. Biology, Oklahoma State Univ.

Alex Ophir. post-doc 2003-2007, Assistant Professor, Dept. Psychology, Cornell Univ.

Alex Ophir. post-doc 2003-2007, Assistant Professor, Dept. Psychology, Cornell Univ.

Lauren O'Connell, post-doc 2011-2012, Bauer Fellow, Center for Systems Biology, Harvard Univ.

Lauren O'Connell, post-doc 2011-2012, Bauer Fellow, Center for Systems Biology, Harvard Univ.

Sarah Jane Alger, post-doc 2010-2011, Asst. Prof., Dept. Biology, Univ. Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Sarah Jane Alger, post-doc 2010-2011, Asst. Prof., Dept. Biology, Univ. Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Mariam Okhovat. PhD in EEB, 2016. Chromatin remodeling, methylation, epigenetics. Now a postdoc at OHSU in Portland.

Mariam Okhovat. PhD in EEB, 2016. Chromatin remodeling, methylation, epigenetics. Now a postdoc at OHSU in Portland.

Dimitri Blondel, PhD in Biology, 2013. Now a post-doc at Duke University.

Dimitri Blondel, PhD in Biology, 2013. Now a post-doc at Duke University.

Ondi Crino, MS in Biology, 2008. Currently a post-doc at Macquarie University in Australia.

Ondi Crino, MS in Biology, 2008. Currently a post-doc at Macquarie University in Australia.

Stavana Strutz. PhD in EEB, 2017. Disease ecology, climate change, niche modeling.  Co-advised by Camille Parmesan.

Stavana Strutz. PhD in EEB, 2017. Disease ecology, climate change, niche modeling. Co-advised by Camille Parmesan.

Bret Pasch, PhD in Biology, 2010. Asst. Prof., Northern Arizona University.

Bret Pasch, PhD in Biology, 2010. Asst. Prof., Northern Arizona University.

Marcela Fernandez-Vargas, MS from University of Missouri in St Louis, 2008. (Performed MS work at UF). Now a postdoc at Washington State University.

Marcela Fernandez-Vargas, MS from University of Missouri in St Louis, 2008. (Performed MS work at UF). Now a postdoc at Washington State University.

Alejandro Berrio. PhD in EEB, 2016. Gene expression evolution, chromatin regulation. Now a post-doc at Duke University.

Alejandro Berrio. PhD in EEB, 2016. Gene expression evolution, chromatin regulation. Now a post-doc at Duke University.

Zahra Dehghani, MS in Cell and Molecular Biology, 2014.

Zahra Dehghani, MS in Cell and Molecular Biology, 2014.

Jorge Pino, PhD in Biology, 2014. Now a professor at the Universidad de David, Panama.  Co-advised by David Reed.

Jorge Pino, PhD in Biology, 2014. Now a professor at the Universidad de David, Panama. Co-advised by David Reed.

Andreas George, MS in Psychology, 2014.

Andreas George, MS in Psychology, 2014.