Current Organismal Biology Faculty
My research focuses on the evolution of animal behavior and the interface between animal behavior and conservation biology.
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.
The Funk Lab strives to understand the evolutionary and ecological mechanisms that generate and maintain biodiversity, and how rapid global environmental change affects these processes. We address questions by integrating population genomics, quantitative field methods, controlled experiments, and computational analysis in a variety of taxonomic groups (amphibians, fish, stream insects, birds, mammals, reptiles, and terrestrial insects). Much of our research focuses on freshwater habitats, such as streams, rivers, ponds, wetlands, and lakes.
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.
Our group uses synthetic biology to study and create new biological systems both in plants and the creatures that interact with them, including viruses and fungi, to to create crops that are more productive, delicious, and resilient to the effects of climate change.
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 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.
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 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.
My research is taxonomically broad and highly interdisciplinary, spanning from molecular biology to ecology. My lab focuses primarily on systems characterized by high seasonal or inter-annual variability in resource pulses, with the goal of advancing our understanding of the mechanisms that underlie inter- and intra-specific variation in the daily and seasonal timing of vertebrates.
My research is focused on understanding how and why animals vary in their reproductive investment strategies. We study the proximate and ultimate factors that influence variation in reproductive function within mammals with an emphasis on gestational physiology. Our lab currently works primarily in deer mice to study flexibility and adaptive variation in the systems that contribute to fetal growth and litter size.