Since 2010 my laboratory has been funded by two NSF grants. The first project focused on the comparative genomics of insertions/deletions in primate lineages. The second project is to involve many undergraduate students into a study of the genetic variation and admixture in Puerto Ricans. I am an active participant of the 1,000 Genome Consortium and the Genome10K and actively involved in the projects studying variation and reconstruction of the pre-Columbian genomes (the Taino) in Puerto Rico. My laboratory has always been friendly for the undergraduate research: currently I have forty two undergraduate students registered for research credits under my supervision, as well as four masters level graduate students.
I am currently directing efforts to establish the Caribbean Genome Center – the first research and educational genome facility in the greater Caribbean region supported by the collaboration with the Frederick National Laboratory, NCI. CGC is the only one in the Caribbean able to carry on the next generation sequencing with Ion Torrent PGM, and we are currently funded with several seed projects to build our expertise.
Recently, my research group published the data of the Puerto Rican Parrot genome – the first publicly sponsored genome project of an endangered species that has well accepted by the scientific community, and received much attention from the general public. This project is the basis for the development of the new evolutionary model in the Caribbean based on the comparative genome studies of the genus Amazona occupying various island of the Antillean archipelago, and I secured funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Toyota Foundation to continue this study. In this project I am actively collaborating with the Department of Natural Resources and the Puerto Rico Zoo Juan A. Rivero, where I have recently established an undergraduate research lab (with a designated room next to the aviary).