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Theresa Grieco
Hlusko Lab

Theresa Grieco


Phone: (510) 643-8851

Her research: Theresa studies tooth development in embryos, using frogs as a model system. "My research looks at how different developmental programs in the embryo contribute to making physical parts of the dentition." To see whether the developmental histories of different parts of the jaw result in different patterns of tooth growth, Theresa measures tooth placodes, areas in the embryo where teeth are formed.

What she likes about her research: "I like my project because it looks at the process of how our inherited genetic programming is capable of building us and how it 'makes room' for variation. If we can understand the ways in which we and other organisms create the structures we use on a daily basis, we can begin to appreciate how they have been altered in different times and environments to produce the amazing diversity of life we can see around us today. From a paleontological perspective, teeth are a great system to study, because they preserve so well in the fossil record and can give us a window into the diversity of forms and functions that have worked for vertebrates in the past. It's amazing to think that the building blocks that we share with other organisms, even extinct ones, are the same things that allow us to be unique and diverse."

Outside the lab: "When I'm not doing research in the lab, I love being outside, whether in the field helping people with their research, hiking in the city or in the wild, or listening to a concert in the park on a beautiful day."


Grieco, T.M., O.T. Rizk, and L.J. Hlusko. 2013. A modular framework characterizes micro- and macroevolution of Old World monkey dentitions. Evolution 67(1):241-59.