Melissa Sanchez Herrera
PhD in Ecology and Evolution
Lecturer Universidad del Rosario
Research Associate 2022-2024
AMNH Division of Invertebrate Zoology
Member of @ENTOPOC
President Dragonfly Society of the Americas (2021-2023)
I was born and grew in Bogota, Colombia. While doing my bachelor degree in Biology at La Universidad de los Andes, I was amazed by evolution, taxonomy, molecular data and phylogenetic methods. I started working as a peer tutor of vertebrate systematics and comparative vertebrate anatomy lab, however after a long week field trip to the Santuario of Fauna y Flora Tatama, I found my true passion for dragonflies and damselflies. I started volunteering at the aquatic entomology lab, where I did my bachelor thesis looking at population size, territoriality and other natural history traits of the damselfly Polythore procera under the advice of Dr. Emilio Realpe. Later on, I discovered that this species shows polymorphic phenotypes (e.g. wing coloration) across several geographic populations in Colombia. This pattern intrigued me and decided to pursue a Master's degree where I can combine morphological and molecular data to answer my questions. Working with Dr. Camilo Salazar I established the presence of two cryptic species using molecular phylogenetics and population genetic statistics; one of these species show high polymorphism in the wing color pattern. Now I am finishing my PhD looking at the species delimitation and evolutionary relationships of this intriguing group and other Neotropical damselflies with Dr. Jessica L. Ware at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. Now I aback in Colombia doing exciting new research ideas!