Maria Strangas



  • Ph.D., Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, City University of New York, 2018 ​

    • Dissertation title: The role of environment in shaping patterns of diversity in gymnophthalminae lizards (Family: Gymnophthalmidae)

    • Advisor: Dr. Ana Carnaval, City College of New York

  • B.S. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 2010.

    • University of Rochester, Rochester, NY

    • Minor: Cultural Anthropology


Fellowships and Scholarships

  • Graduate Research Fellowship Program, National Science Foundation. 2013.​

  • Science Scholarship, City University of New York (CUNY). 2012.​


Grants and Awards

  • Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide Award, National Science Foundation. 2015.

    • Drivers of genetic diversity in a group of tropical montane lizards

    • Eight months of thesis research in the lab of Prof. Craig Moritz at Australian National University (ANU)

    • Additional collaboration: Prof. Michael Kearney, University of Melbourne

  • Conservation Research Award, The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund. 2013.

    • Conservation research on a narrowly endemic lizard in the Caparaó mountains of Brazil

  • Rosemary Grant Award, The Society for the Study of Evolution. 2013.

    • Mechanistic models of biological responses to climate change in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil

  • Young Explorers Grant, The National Geographic Society. 2013.

    • Herpetological diversity in the southern montane Atlantic Forest

Peer-reviewed Publications

  • Damasceno R*, Strangas M*, Carnaval AC, Rodrigues MT and Moritz C. 2014. Revisiting the vanishing refuge model of diversification. Frontiers in Genetics. 5:353. [*equal contribution]

  • Carnaval AC, Waltari E, Rodrigues MT, Rosauer D, VanDerWal J, Damasceno R, Prates I, Strangas M, Spanos Z,Rivera D, Pie MR, Firkowski CR, Bornschein MR, Ribeiro LF, Moritz C. 2014. Prediction of phylogeographic endemism in an environmentally complex biome. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281(1792): 20141461

  • Teixeira Jr, M, dal Vechio F; Recoder RS; Carnaval AC; Strangas M; Damasceno, RP; de Sena MA; Rodrigues MT. 2012. Two new species of marsupial tree-frogs genus Gastrotheca Fitzinger, 1843 (Anura, Hemiphractidae) from the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Zootaxa 3437:1-73

Oral Presentations at Scientific Meetings

* indicates presenter

  • Strangas, M*; Rodrigues, MT; Moritz CM; Carnaval, AC. Geographic shifts and niche dynamics in South American lizards: bringing together macroclimate, microclimate, and thermophysiology. Annual Meeting of the International Biogeography Society. Tucson, AZ. January, 2017.

  • Strangas, M*; Rodrigues, M T; Carnaval, A. Evolutionary drivers of thermophysiology in populations of Brazilian montane lizards. Evolution Conference: Joint meeting of SSE, SSB, ASN. Guarujá, Brazil. June, 2015.

  • Strangas, M*; Rodrigues, M T; Carnaval, A. Mechanisms of niche divergence in a group of Atlantic Forest lizards. Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology. Austin, TX. January, 2014.


Invited Research Talks

  • Strangas, M*. Environmental drivers of genetic diversity in Gymnophthalminae lizards: integrating macroclimate, microclimate and physiology. New York Species Distribution Modeling Discussion Group. American Museum of Natural History. October, 2016.

  • Strangas, M*. Understanding divergence in Heterodactylini lizards: integrating phylogeography, environment and phenotype. State University of Sao Paulo (UNESP) Seminar Series. Rio Claro, Brazil. April, 2014.


Poster Presentations at Scientific Meetings

  • Damasceno, RP*; Ashfaq Khan, A; Strangas, M; McDonald, K; Carnaval, A. Linking remote sensing temperature data with thermal physiology in the Atlantic Forest. NASA Biodiversity and Ecological Forecasting Team Meeting. College Park, MD. April 2016.

  • Paz, A*; Brown, J; Reginato, M; Khan, A; Strangas, M; Damasceno, R; McDonald, K; Carnaval, AC. Improving biodiversity prediction in the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest: Mapping diversity and its environmental correlates NSF Dimensions of Biodiversity PI Meeting. Arlington, VA. January 2016.

  • Strangas, M*; Rodrigues, M T; Carnaval, A. Thermophysiology in Brazilian montane lizards: evolutionary processes at population-, species-, and phylogenetic scales. International Evolution Conference: Joint meeting of SSE, SSB, ASN. Guarujá, Brazil. June 2015.

  • Recoder, R*; Strangas, M; Carnaval A; Rodrigues MT. Phylogenetic patterns of diversification and morphological disparity in a group of microteiid lizards. International Evolution Conference: Joint meeting of SSE, SSB, ASN. Guarujá, Brazil. June 2015.

  • Strangas, M*; McDonald, K; Silva T; Carnaval AC. Using Remote Sensing data to understand drivers of genetic and functional diversity in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. NASA Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems Joint Science Workshop. College Park, MD. April 2015.

  • Strangas, M*; Almeida LS; Silva T; Rodrigues MT; Carnaval AC. Drivers of genetic and functional diversity in a montane, tropical lizard. Gordon Research Conference: Unifying Ecology across Scales. July 2014.

  • Strangas, M*; Rodrigues, M T; Carnaval, A. An integrative study of niche evolution in Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest lizards. International Evolution Conference: Joint meeting of SSE, SSB, ASN, CSEE, ESEB. Ottawa, Canada. June 2013.

University Teaching Experience

  • Graduate Teaching Assistant. August 2014 – May 2015.

    • Taught Ecology and Evolution Lab: BIO228: 2 sections of 25 students per semester. Conducted lessons on concepts in ecology and evolution and on scientific writing.

    • Guided lab activities, designed exams, graded essays and exams.

    • Provided one-on-one support for interested students.

  • Teaching Assistant. Fall 2009.

    • Upper Level Ecology: BIO 263. University of Rochester


Leadership Activities

  • Founding Member, City College of New York Women in Science. 2014.

  • Leadership Committee, City College of New York Women in Science. 2014 – 2017.

  • President, City College of New York Women in Science. 2017 – present.

    • Developed organization to increase awareness about the status of women in science, and to advocate and provide avenues for equality in the scientific community and professional advancement for women. As of October 2017, CCNY WINS has 350 members.

    • Organized college-wide events, introduce institutional changes to improve access to resources for women. Events included: How to Introduce Yourself in 90 seconds; Celebrating Women of Color in Science; Action Fair: Contact your Members of Congress; Discussions with Visiting Speakers.

  • Founder and Director, CCNY Women in Science Mentoring Program. 2014 – present.

    • Developed program and coordinate mentorships across levels of experience to provide guidance, support and encouragement for women interested in a career in science (approx. 100 participants/year).

  • Coordinator, 500 Women Scientists NYC Pod, 2017 - present.

    • Lead the NYC branch of 500 Women Scientists, a grassroots organization committed to making science open, inclusive and accessible.

    • Organize networking and outreach events, and workshops for career development and science communication.

  • Participant, Science Alliance Leadership Training (SALT). The New York Academy of Sciences, New York, NY. 2017.

    • One week of interactive training in the following areas: interpersonal and communication skills, team dynamics, learning styles, and community building.

  • Afterschool Science Teacher, New York Academies of Science Afterschool Mentoring Program. 2016-2017.

    • Lead weekly science lessons and hands-on activities for 20-25 7th grade students at Highbridge Green School in Bronx, NY.

Mentoring Experience

  • Lab Mentor, City College of New York. 2010 – present.

    • Conduct wet-lab trainings, teach DNA analyses, oversee research projects, edit manuscripts.

    • Nine undergraduates

  • Mentor, Women in Science, City College of New York.  2014 – present.

    • Monthly meetings providing support and guidance to female undergraduates in Biology

  • Mentor, 1000 Girls 1000 Futures. New York Academy of Science. 2015 – 2016.

    • Monthly video conferences to build critical thinking skills and college readiness with a student at University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

  • Science Fair Judge, New York City Science and Engineering Fair. 2013, 2015, 2017.


Other Teaching Experience

  • After School Teacher 82nd St. Academics. Queens, New York. 2010 – 2012.

    • Manage homework help for a classroom 5th and 6th grade students daily, develop and implement weekly Science Club activities

  • Educator Heifer Ranch. Heifer International. Perryville, Arkansas. 2006.

    • Facilitate workshops and activities on sustainability and international development for groups in kindergarten through college. Americorps volunteer


Other Research Experience

  • Lab Technician and Manager, City College of New York.  2010 – 2012.

    • Manage molecular lab activities: lab trainings, supply management,

    • Conduct research in molecular ecology, including DNA extraction, amplification, sequence editing, phylogenetic and phylogeographic analysea

  • Field Assistant, University of Rochester. 2009 – 2010.

    • Conducte ecological field work in urban forests and meadows, and in the Sonoran desert

  • Research Intern, Archelon: Sea Turtle Conservation Society of Greece. 2009

    • Population monitoring and conservation of loggerhead sea turtles

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