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Raul Diaz
Raul Diaz, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biology


  • Ph.D., Cell and Anatomy, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS and The Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Kansas City, MO, 2007-2012
  • M.A., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas, 2005-2007
  • B.A., Integrative Biology, concentration in Systematics and Evolutionary Biology, University of California at Berkeley, 1999-2004

Principal Research Interests

Dr. Diaz is fascinated by not only the morphological diversity (skeletal and ectodermal structures) found across vertebrates, but is interested in the genetics and ecological factors driving speciation and adaptive phenotypes (in particular, those which occur repeatedly through convergence). The genetic signaling pathways involved in driving morphological diversity are highly conserved across vertebrates and may also provide a not-yet-appreciated tool for studying the development of congenital malformations in humans.

His study system involves reptiles and amphibians in the field but also maintains a reptile breeding group in house (and soon some amphibians) for looking at the developmental genetics and cellular biology driving morphological change during development. His lab's interest spans across various taxonomic groups (though mainly chameleons and large pythons) and integrates ecology and natural history of species from in the field with taxonomy/systematics, developmental and comparative morphology, embryology, genetics/omics, as well as immunohistochemistry, histology, microscopy and gene expression studies.

Research Area: 

  • Body plan evolution (emphasis on the appendicular and cranial-skeleton)
  • Ectodermal-mesenchymal interactions
  • Cell migration and cell environment interactions/patternings (coloration and ectodermal appendage differentiation)
  • Relationship between trunk vertebral increase and limb reduction/loss
  • Trunk vs Tail somitogenesis in development
  • Craniofacial divergence and its relation to biomechanical use in ecology
  • Phylogenetics and systematics of reptiles and amphibians
  • Conservation of reptiles and amphibians
  • Body size evolution (gigantism/dwarfism) in snakes and salamanders

Phone: 951-785-2101
Building: Price Science Complex, Rm. 207

Representative Publications

  1. Young, N.M., Hu, D., Lainoff, A.J., Smith, F., Diaz, R., Tucker, A.S., Trainor, P.A., Schneider, R.A., Hallgrímsson, B., Marcucio, R.S. 2014. Embryonic bauplans and the developmental origins of facial diversity and constraint. Development 141(5).
  2. R. Browne, H. Li, Z. Wang, S. Okada, P. Hime, A. McMillan, H. Merideth, L. Gang, M. Wu, T. Johnson, R. Diaz, Z. Hongxing. 2013. The Giant Salamanders (Cryptobranchidae): Part B. Range, Ecology, Behaviour, Reproduction. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 5(4): 30-50.
  3. R. Browne, H. Li, Z. Wang, S. Okada, P. Hime, A. McMillan, H. Merideth, L. Gang, M. Wu, T. Johnson, R. Diaz, Z. Hongxing. 2012. The Giant Salamanders 
  4. Dominguez, M. and R. E. Diaz, Jr. (in review). Resurrection of the Typhlops silus Legler, 1959 from Cuba (Scolecophidia, Typhlopidae). Copeia
  5. Bhatt, S., R. Diaz, P. Trainor. 2013. Signals and switches in mammalian Neural Crest Cell development. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology 5(2)