Current Organismal Biology Faculty
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/.
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.
My research focuses on sugar and amino acid allocation from sites of primary assimilation to import-dependent sinks in plants. This is a fundamental process that allows plants to function as multi-cellular organisms. We use molecular, genetic and biochemical tools to define the mechanisms and regulation of this essential process. Recently, as part of this work, we discovered a unique transcription factor that when expressed out of context, increases yields by 3-fold. We're currently focused on understanding how this happens.
My research interests are centered on the mechanisms that animals use to adapt to different situations. Recent investigations have focused on animals that hibernate and the mechanisms they use to regulate energy stores.
The Funk Lab strives to understand the evolutionary and ecological mechanisms that generate and maintain biological diversity using population genomics, experimental manipulations, field studies, and computational analysis. Our goal is to not only test basic evolutionary and ecological theory, but also directly inform policy and management decisions that will ultimately determine the fate of biodiversity.
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.
My research combines my expertise in exercise and skeletal muscle physiology with molecular techniques to focus on oxygen metabolism; especially on the control and regulation of skeletal and cardiac muscle adaptations to extreme environmental conditions such as hypoxia. The ultimate goal is to enhance our understanding of molecular changes associated with hypoxia and translate these results for therapeutic applications in the treatment of myopathies.
We work on Plant Synthetic Biology. Synthetic Biology is forward engineering of biological organisms for specific purposes both basic and applied. On the basic side, we are using synthetic biology to understand complex natural processes such as signal transduction and pattern formation. We are using synthetic biology to produce new types of plants and plant traits such as highly specific plant detectors, plants producing biofuels and plant that do useful things for humans and the environment
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. Currently, I'm especially intrigued by behavioral fever, and the fitness costs and benefits associated with shifting body temperature.
I am interested in three fundamental 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?
I study the regulation of molting and limb regeneration in decapod crustaceans using molecular biological, transcriptomic, and proteomic methods. I am also Director of the University Honors Program (http://www.honors.colostate.edu).
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.
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.
My research group studies the molecular mechanisms determining the outcome of plant-microbe interactions. We're especially interested in understanding immune receptor function and pathogen virulence strategies.
My primary interests lie in the fields of photosynthesis and algal eco-physiology. In particular, I’m interested in the diversity of mechanisms that algae use to protect themselves from too much light and other abiotic stresses.
My lab investigates how the photosynthetic machinery in plants acquires the essential metal cofactors copper and iron. These metal ions are required for photosynthesis and thus plant productivity, yet they are toxic at too high concentrations. We use genetics together with whole plant physiology, cell and molecular biology and biochemistry in the model plant Arabidopsis to unravel the regulation of copper delivery and the assembly of iron-sulfur clusters in proteins.
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.
One of the fundamental questions in plant biology is how plants sense and respond to environmental (abiotic and biotic) and hormonal signals that regulate diverse cellular processes and various aspects of plant growth and development. Our group has been studying i) calcium-mediated signal transduction mechanisms with emphasis on calcium sensors and their target proteins, ii) mechanisms that regulate alternative splicing of pre-messenger RNAs in response to stresses, iii) disease resistance, iv) cell wall degrading enzymes for biofuel production and iv) synthetic signal transduction circuits in plants. We use molecular, cell biological, genetic, biochemical, bioinformatics and computational tools to accomplish our research goals. Arabidopsis, maize, potato and Miscanthus are used in our research. Studies on computational aspects of alternative splicing and protein-protein interactions are being done in collaboration with Asa Ben-Hur in the Department of Computer Science at CSU (http://www.cs.colostate.edu/~asa/projects.html).
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?
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.
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.
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.