Biology Directory: Ecology + Evolutionary Biology

Lisa Angeloni

Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of California, San Diego

My research focuses on the evolution of animal behavior and the interface between animal behavior and conservation biology.

Michael Antolin

Chair and Professor
BA: University of Pennsylvania; MSc: University of Alberta, Canada; PhD: Florida State University

My laboratory group works on the effects of fragmented and patchy populations in evolution, genetics, and ecology. Currently, we study the epidemiology of plague in natural populations of black-tailed prairie dogs and other small rodents on the short grass prairies of north-central Colorado, and are part of the Laramie Foothills Chronic Wasting Disease Project, where we study the genetics of CWD in mule deer in relation to spatial epidemiology and genetics http://www.nrel.colostate.edu/projects/modelingCWD/.

Meena Balgopal

Associate Professor
Ph.D., North Dakota State University

My research group studies how people make meaning of natural science concepts through reading, writing, and speaking. We use discourse and communication theories to understand how undergraduate students identify and resolve misconceptions. Most of my research centers on writing-to-learn and writing-to-communicate during problem-based cooperative group activities.

Patricia Bedinger

Professor
Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco

The work in my laboratory centers on reproductive barriers between higher plant species, in particular between species wild tomatoes. We are examining the molecular and cellular nature of interspecific reproductive barriers (IRB).

W. Chris Funk

Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of Montana

My research focuses on conservation genomics and evolutionary ecology of vertebrates and stream insects. Current projects include: (1) conservation genomics of endangered species; (2) the effects of gene flow on adaptation, fitness, and population dynamics; and (3) the vulnerability of stream organisms to climate change.

Cameron Ghalambor

Professor
Ph.D., University of Montana

My research is focused on the empirical study of adaptation in natural populations. I am particularly interested in how trade-offs are resolved during the process of adaptive evolution in life history, behavioral, and physiological traits. We use a variety of field and lab techniques to test and develop theory while also striving to understand the natural history of the organisms we study.

Kim Hoke

Associate Professor

The primary goal of the Hoke lab is to understand the processes that shape evolutionary trajectories. We focus on the mechanisms of convergent evolution of behavioral and morphological traits. We link molecular, neural, and developmental mechanisms to their consequences for organismal phenotypes, and we investigate the neural and hormonal mechanisms of context- or experience-dependent changes in behavior.

Alan Knapp

Professor
Ph.D., University of Wyoming

My research focuses on plants with a goal of understanding ecological patterns and processes from the leaf to the ecosystem level. Research is conducted primarily in the field utilizing the comparative approach and experimental manipulations of key ecological drivers. Areas of interest include: plant physiological ecology, ecosystems ecology, climate change, long-term ecological research, invasive plant species, restoration ecology, fire and herbivory effects on communities and ecossytems.

Janice Moore

Professor
Ph.D., University of New Mexico

I am interested in the evolutionary ecology of parasite-host interactions. I study the effects of parasites on animal behavior, as well as the effects of parasites on other parasites in communities.

Rachel Mueller

Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley

I am interested in three basic questions in evolutionary biology: (1) How do genomes evolve, particularly those at the extremes of genome size? (2) How do transposable elements shape genome biology and evolution? (3) How does genome size impact phenotype and the evolutionary trajectories of lineages?

Dhruba Naug

Professor

I combine my interests in behavioral and cognitive ecology to understand the functioning of individuals and social groups. My research involves experimental work in behavior and physiology complemented by approaches based on individual based modeling.

Jennifer Neuwald

Special Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Washington University in St. Louis

I am an evolutionary ecologist interested in using a multidisciplinary approach to investigate how environmental variation and evolutionary processes converge to influence the patterns of demographic, genetic, and genomic variation in natural populations, especially those of conservation concern.

Elizabeth Pilon-Smits

Professor
Ph.D., Utrecht University, The Netherlands

In the Pilon-Smits lab we are interested in processes by which plants accumulate and detoxify environmental pollutants, as well as in ecological and evolutionary aspects of selenium hyperaccumulation. We study these processes from the molecular level to the field. Our approaches include genomics, genetics, biotechnology, biochemistry, whole-plant physiology, and ecological studies. These studies are aimed to gain knowledge about basic biological processes, but have applications for the use of plants for environmental cleanup or as fortified foods.

N. LeRoy Poff

Professor
Ph.D., Colorado State University

My research interests are guided by the broad consideration of how ecological processes and patterns are constrained by habitat structure and environmental variability at multiple scales in aquatic ecosystems. Our results provide a basis for predicting aquatic community attributes at geographic scales and for ecological responses to land-use alterations and regional climate changes.

Kristen Ruegg

Assistant Professor
PhD, University of California, Berkeley

My research is focused on ecological and evolutionary genomics in a changing world.  I am co-director of the Bird Genoscape Project, a large, multi-institutional effort to use genomic methods to facilitate migratory bird conservation. As part of this effort we are addressing questions such as: 1) How are genetically distinct populations connected across breeding, migratory and wintering areas, 2) What is the role of migration in generating avian diversity? and 3) Which populations will have to adapt most to keep pace with climate change

Mark Simmons

Professor and Curator of the Charles Maurer Herbarium
Ph.D., Cornell University

My research program consists of two interrelated components: phylogeny and taxonomy of the flowering-plant family Celastraceae (spindle-tree family), and conceptual aspects of molecular phylogenetics. Molecular phylogenetics uses genomic data (typically DNA sequences) to reconstruct evolutionary relationships among species. This field is playing an increasingly central role in biology, from inferring the diversification of multigene families, to tracking invasive species, conservation of protected species, as evidence in criminal investigations, and fighting bioterrorism.

Dan Sloan

Assistant Professor
Ph.D. University of Virginia

My research investigates the evolutionary forces that create diversity in genome size, structure, and function. I am particularly interested in the evolution of so-called “resident genomes” that exist inside the cells of another organism, including those of mitochondria and plastids in eukaryotes and endosymbiotic bacteria in many insects. Much of my current work focuses on how these resident genomes co-evolve with the host genome.

Melinda Smith

Professor, Director Semi-arid Grassland Research Center
Ph.D., Kansas State University

My research focuses on understanding the consequences of human-caused global changes, especially the impacts of climatic changes, biological invasions, eutrophication (e.g., increased N deposition), and altered disturbance regimes for biodiversity and ecosystem structure and function. Within this context, my research addresses questions about the functional roles of species in ecosystems, the causes and impacts of loss and gain of genetic and species diversity, the factors that influence species coexistence and patterns of species abundance, and the relative strength of bottom-up (resources) vs. top-down (consumers) controls in structuring communities. My research employs a mixture of empirical approaches (observational, experimental, comparative and synthetic) and utilizes C4-dominated grasslands as experimentally tractable and dynamic model systems.

David Steingraeber

Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin

My interest’s center on the ecological significance of plant form and structure. Topics of study in my laboratory include the following: patterns of shoot development, branching, and leaf placement in different environments; modular and clonal growth; and the conservation and population biology of rare plants.

Joe von Fischer

Professor
Ph.D., Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University

I study how the atmosphere develops its greenhouse gas composition. In natural ecosystem, this work investigates how the function of ecosystems is structured by the interactions among humans, plants, the soil and soil microbes. In urban ecosystems, I study the human activities that lead to methane emissions.

Diana H. Wall

Professor
Ph.D., University of Kentucky

My research focuses on soil ecology and how soil invertebrate biodiversity influences ecosystem processes. Experimental research in field and lab measures factors affecting distribution patterns of soil animals at small to global scales and their influence on above-belowground linkages. A key aspect is understanding how soil biodiversity contributes to long term sustainability of soil ecosystems.

Colleen Webb

Professor
Ph.D., Cornell University

My research focuses on how the interplay between ecological and evolutionary mechanisms affects the dynamics and persistence of ecological systems. We particularly focus on disease ecology and trait-based approaches in ecology and use quantitative techniques to address questions in these areas.