Welcome to the Cave Bio Lab at UAH!

The Niemiller Lab at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (aka the Cave Bio Lab) employs field, laboratory, and computational approaches to study the ecology, evolution, and conservation of life in caves and other subterranean habitats. Our lab studies the ecological and evolutionary patterns and processes that underlie the origin and maintenance of multiple levels of biological organization—from genes to ecosystems—and how these processes ultimately influence conservation and inform management decisions. Our research program combines concepts and approaches from multiple disciplines, including population and community ecology, evolutionary biology, conservation biology, biogeography, systematics, population genetics, phylogenetics, and genomics. The core research in the lab focuses primarily on subterranean ecosystems and organisms—from bats, salamanders, and fishes to crustaceans, beetles, millipedes, and other invertebrates; however, current and past projects have included a variety of surface systems and fauna. Most organisms studied in the lab are of conservation concern, and, in many cases, federally or state listed. Our research program is highly collaborative, often involving researchers and participants from academia, state and federal agencies, and other private and non-profit organizations and partners in the United States and abroad.

Interesting in joining or volunteering in the Cave Bio Lab?

We are interested in hearing from you! We are currently seeking graduate and undergraduate students and volunteers for several research projects in 2022-2023.

Prospective Graduate Students: Graduate students interested in research experience at the M.S. and Ph.D. level are welcome. We encourage our graduate students to develop their own research projects that are not just simple extensions of Dr. Niemiller’s research. Our mentoring strategy is one of fostering independence, confidence, and passion for science with the ultimate goal of instilling the knowledge and developing the skills necessary to be successful in a career in the biological sciences. The Department of Biological Sciences at The University of Alabama in Huntsville offers a Master of Science in Biological Sciences for students interested in ecology, evolutionary biology, genetics, genomics, molecular and cell biology, microbiology, and physiology. The university offers a Ph.D. in Biotechnology Science and Engineering, an interdisciplinary program involving faculty from the Departments of Chemistry, Biological Sciences, and Chemical Engineering. Adjunct faculty from the Marshall Space Flight Center and Hudson Alpha Institute of Biotechnology and companies are also involved in the program. The program’s mission is to provide Ph.D. level graduates who are broadly trained in the areas of science and engineering pertinent to biotechnology and who will benefit the economic, educational, and cultural development of Alabama. Graduates of the program are expected to be able to make significant contributions to biotechnology in academic, governmental, and business settings. Research assistantships are not available currently; however, teaching assistantships are available in the department. If you are interested in joining the lab for a M.S. or Ph.D., please browse the Cave Bio Lab publications and read through current and past research projects and interests of lab personnel.

Prospective Undergraduate Students: Undergraduate students interested in research experiences or undergraduate thesis research are welcome.  Undergraduate students are a vital part of a productive and successful research program. In addition to assisting in experimental design, data collection and analysis, we take great pride in involving undergraduates in manuscript preparation and presentations at professional meetings. Our goal is to serve as mentors to help our undergraduates acquire the knowledge, experience, passion, and skills to be successful in whatever career path they choose in the future. The Department of Biological Sciences offers a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts for students interested in a variety of disciplines and careers in biology, with emphases in biochemistry, environmental science, exercise physiology, graduate preparatory, microbiology, molecular biology, premedical technology, pre-health professional, or secondary education programs. All curricula may be modified to fit individual aims with the approval of the biology faculty.

Prospective Volunteers: Our research and outreach programs would not be possible without the generous assistance and participation of many cavers, landowners, amateur naturalists, students, and biologists, and many state and federal agencies, and private and non-profit organizations, including many state cave surveys and local grottoes. We always welcome help in the field from individuals interested in learning more about caves, subterranean life and biology, and science, in general. Perhaps you have a cave on your property that you’d like to know more about the life that can be found inside or you are a teacher looking to learn more about caves or interesting in someone speaking to your class. We would love to hear from you!

Please contact Dr. Niemiller with any questions about the lab, graduate and undergraduate program, and research opportunities.