The Breitman Lab


The Breitman Lab welcomes people of any race, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, caregiver and family commitments, political affiliation, religion, and eligible age or ability.

Current Lab Members

Flor Breitman Ph.D.
Principal Investigator
mbreitma (at)
Scholar Citations

Flor Breitman is a native of Argentina, where she completed her undergraduate training (licenciatura) in Biological Sciences at the National University of Patagonia–San Juan Bosco (UNPSJB) in 2008 while working on lizard escape behavior with Dr. Luciano Avila. She stayed in Patagonia to do her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences, which she received from the National University of Córdoba in 2013 for her work on phylogeny, phylogeography, and diversification in the Liolaemus lineomaculatus section. During her Ph.D. she was advised by Drs. Mariana Morando and Luciano Avila and she was supported by a Ph.D. fellowship from CONICET, The National Scientific and Technical Research Council of Argentina.

Following her Ph.D., she continued her work on Patagonian lizard evolution from 2013 to 2014 as a CONICET Postdoctoral Fellow. Then, in 2015, she moved to Brazil to take a prestigious PNPD Postdoctoral Fellowship and work with Guarino Colli at the University of Brasília on the diversification of the herpetofauna of the Brazilian Cerrado biome. In 2017, Flor and her family returned to the United States. Since 2014, she had been taking every opportunity available to teach undergraduate courses, and in Brazil she had worked hard to develop a course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) in Integrative Taxonomy, so she was prepared to give teaching a try full time. She worked for several years honing her skills in science education, pedagogy, and active-learning techniques as a middle school Science Teacher and as an Adjunct Professor for diverse universities in different parts of the US (Virginia and Missouri).

In 2020, she and her family moved to Alabama in the southeastern US. The following year, in 2021, she was appointed to the role of Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology and Environmental Science at Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM) and founded the Breitman Lab. Since arriving at AUM, Flor has developed a research program centered around providing students faculty-led research experiences in urban ecology and evolutionary biology, and she has also collaborated with other members of the Department on science education pedagogy and peer-mentoring. She is co-PI on a $300,000 IUSE grant from the National Science Foundation to develop the ‘Flight School’ model for peer-mentoring, which offers upperclassman students opportunities to team up with professors to provide mentorship and academic support for underclassmen in a variety of courses around campus. Dr. Breitman has also received several Undergraduate Research/Creative Activity (URCA) grant awards in support of a novel Long-Term Ecological Research Experiment (LTERE) on herpetofaunal biodiversity in the AUM Forest, a secondary urban forest in east Montgomery, AL located just behind the AUM Campus. She has also obtained funding to support students in projects matching their unique backgrounds, research interests, and capabilities, including projects on topics as varied as octopus locomotion and behavior and human dental morphology.

In addition to these exciting developments, Flor has had a longstanding commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and social justice, as well as the principles of Open Science. In her personal life, she is passionate about her family, hiking, kayking, and domestic and international travel.

Justin Bagley Ph.D.
justin.bagley (at)
Scholar Citations

Justin C. Bagley is a professional biologist with 17 years of experience in academia, ecology, evolution, and environmental science. Currently, he is an Environmental Scientist with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) Field Operations Division, where he works to monitor the quality and biological integrity of Alabama’s state waters. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM), where he enjoys teaching, collaborating, and mentoring students in research, and he is an Affiliate Researcher in the Department of Biology at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Justin’s current research focuses on surface water quality monitoring and water resource management; biomonitoring aquatic habitats using fish surveys and index of biotic integrity (IBI) methods; fish community ecology and IBI method development (nonwadeable IBI); fish systematics and taxonomy (e.g., fishes of Alabama); and studying the urban ecology of reptile and amphibian communities in collaboration with Dr. Flor Breitman at AUM.

After receiving his B.S. and M.Sc. degrees in Biology from The University of Alabama in 2004 and 2008, he received his Ph.D. in Integrative Biology in 2014 from Brigham Young University for his work on comparative phylogeography and species delimitation in Central American freshwater fishes under Jerry Johnson. He was a Young Talent Fellow postdoc in Brazil’s CNPq Science Without Borders program under Francisco Langeani and Guarino Colli at the University of Brasília, 2015–2017, and during 2017 to 2018, he completed a postdoc in Andrew Eckert’s Plant Evolutionary Genetics Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University on the genomics of ecological speciation and local adaptation in southwestern white pine (Pinus strobiformis). From 2018-2020 he worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Muchhala Lab in the Department of Biology at the University of Missouri–St. Louis (UMSL). From 2020-2022, he was an Assistant Professor of Biology at Jacksonville State University, and from 2023-present he has worked as a state biologist and at AUM.

Justin is a Review Editor for Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution (since 2021) and regularly serves as a reviewer for Systematic Biology, Molecular Ecology, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, PeerJ, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, and a dozen other journals in ecology and evolutionary biology.

Ryan McMichael
Undergraduate Student

Ryan joined the Breitman Lab in 2022 to work on the Long-Term Ecological Research Experiment (LTERE) in the AUM Forest. In the Breitman Lab, he’s been given an opportunity to learn herpetology and further his research interests in the biological sciences. Flor and Ryan were recently (2023) awarded an internal EEEC grant that provided support for Ryan to follow his dream of working on octopuses! While he continues work on the LTERE, he is working to gather data on octopus locomotion and behavior from video recordings provided by collaborators at Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Ryan loves music and languages, and in his free time he enjoys speaking Mandarin Chinese and playing in university band and ensembles.

Jerome Godwin III
Undergraduate Student

Jerome is currently an undergraduate student in Biology at AUM, and after graduation he plans on attending dental school. Since 2023, Jerome has been working with Dr. Breitman to conduct research on one of his favorite topics–human dental extractions. By observing and collecting data on a large sample of teeth extracted from the Montgomery, AL population (hundreds, donated from local dentist office(s)), they hope to infer the approximate age, ethnicity, lifestyle, and diet of the corresponding patients and use this information to identify biases and causal factors for the extractions.

When not at AUM, Jerome is a professional singer and is most famous for singing on Season 23 of The Voice. Check out his music here!.

Past Lab Members

Courtney Hamrick - Undergraduate Student (intern, AUM Forest LTERE project; EEES grant), 2022-2023