Elsie Carrillo

Scientist, Educator, and Gamer


My name is Elsie Cecilia Prieto Carrillo and I am a first-year PhD student in Dr. Rita Mehta's lab within the Ecology Evolutionary Biology Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz.


I am studying the physiology, ontogeny, and evolution of diving behavior in semi-aquatic snakes. I earned my BA in both Marine Science and Integrative Biology from UC Berkeley in 2013. During this time, I completed several independent research projects including work on leech development in the lab of Dr. David Weisblat, and mantis shrimp burrowing behavior in Dr. Roy Caldwell’s lab. I also completed an NSF REU at the California Academy of Sciences where I studied barnacle and coral symbiosis under Drs. Robert Van Syoc and Gary Williams. After graduating, I began teaching middle school science which led me to earn my MA in Education and Secondary Science Teaching Credential at Stanford University in 2016. During my summer breaks, I participated in the Ignited program at Stanford where I studied Cope’s rule in bivalves under Dr. Jonathan Payne and most recently factors that predict snake reproductive mode under Dr. William Gearty. Using the aquatic and semi-aquatic habitat data I collected while in the Ignited program, I am now a first-year PhD student asking: 1) Do physiological limitations of diving behavior vary across semi-aquatic snake taxa? 2) How does diving physiology change over an organism’s lifetime? And, 3) Are morphological and physiological adaptations convergent in semi-aquatic snakes?

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at elpcarri (at) ucsc.edu.