Faculty

Jeff Ross-Ibarra

  • Professor
  • Department of Evolution and Ecology
Jeff Ross-Ibarra and members of his lab study the evolutionary genetics of maize and its ancestral progenitor, teosinte. Maize spread rapidly after domestication, adapting to a wide range of environments. Today maize is grown across a broader geographic breadth than any of the world’s other staple crops, from sea level to altitudes of >4,000m and from deserts to near-flooded conditions. The wild relatives of maize have also adapted to environments varying widely in elevation, temperature, and moisture availability. Thus, maize and its wild relatives provide an ideal model system to understand the genetic basis of adaptation.

Ben Sacks

  • Adjunct Professor
  • Director, Mammalian Ecology and Conservation Unit
Ben Sacks and his students use genetic and genomic tools, along with field methodologies, to investigate basic and applied problems in ecology, evolution, and conservation of mammals. General topics include the ecology, evolution, and systematics of carnivores, ungulates, and rodent; endangered species conservation; and application of genomic tools to conservation and wildlife management.

Jennifer Funk

  • Associate Professor
  • Department of Plant Sciences
Jennifer Funk and her students explore how plant biochemical and physiological traits drive ecological processes such as invasion, community assembly, and nutrient cycling. Demonstrating links between functional traits and long-term plant performance, reproductive fitness, and population growth rates is essential if traits are to predict the response of species and communities in response to environmental change. 

Andrew Whitehead

  • Professor
  • Department of Environmental Toxicology
Activities in the Whitehead lab revolve around research in environmental, ecological, and evolutionary genomics. Whitehead and his students seek to understand how genomes integrate cues from, respond to, and are shaped by the external environment. Research includes genomic responses to natural and human-generated stress that occur over physiological timescales (acclimation responses) and over evolutionary timescales (adaptive responses), using genome expression profiling, population genetics/genomics and phylogenetics, and physiology. Whitehead has both a basic science angle to research, and also an applied angle that leverages genomic information to diagnose and solve environmental problems.

Kate L. Laskowski

  • Assistant Professor
  • Department of Evolution and Ecology
Kate Laskowski investigates the causes and consequences of behavioral diversity and plasticity. In her research, she explores how evolution has shaped the developmental processes that generate behavioral variation. She seeks to understand how individuals integrate cues from their genes, parents, and experiences to build their phenotypes from both ultimate and proximate perspectives.

Jay Stachowicz

  • Professor
  • Department of Evolution and Ecology
Marine ecologist Jay Stachowicz studies the patterns—both the causes and the consequences—of biodiversity in nature. He's interested in the causes of differences in species diversity at various sites in marine habitats and examines the consequences of that variation and diversity for ecosystems. 

Emily K. Meineke

  • Assistant Professor
  • Department of Entomology and Nematology
Emily Meineke studies insect-plant interactions under human influence. Her research focuses on species that are of cultural importance, such as street trees, crops, crop wild relatives, and plants that support rare insect species. Her work combines experiments, observations, community science, and biological collections to address key hypotheses in ecology.

Rebecca Calisi Rodríguez

  • Associate Professor
  • Department of Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior
Rebecca Calisi Rodríguez studies avian behavior and physiology to uncover how brains can work to facilitate or inhibit reproduction and parental care, particularly under stress. Her work integrates a variety of tools and fields, including neurobiology, endocrinology, animal behavior, ecology, toxicology, environmental health science, and genomics. In particular, she examines how human-induced changes in the environment affect animal behavior, neurobiology, and reproductive endocrinology. The results of this research can inform measures to assess, strategize, and potentially circumvent the negative impacts of environmental contaminants on human and wildlife communities. 

Gail L. Patricelli

  • Professor
  • Department of Evolution and Ecology
Gail Patricelli studies the sounds, smells, colors, dances, electrical fields, and seismic vibrations that animals use to communicate. She addresses the function of these signals and why they take on such diverse and complex forms, using an integrative approach that examines functional, environmental and mechanistic influences on signal content and design. One of the central goals of her research is to understand how signals are influenced by the social and environmental contexts in which they are used. She has pioneered new techniques and technologies for the detailed observation and experimental manipulation of both visual and acoustic signals in the field, including biomimetic robots and microphone arrays.

Rachel L. Vannette

  • Associate Professor
  • Department of Entomology and Nematology
Rachel Vannette is a community ecologist interested in understanding and predicting how microbial communities influence interactions between plants and insects. She studies microbial communities in flowers, on insects, or in soil by combining natural history observations with techniques from chemical ecology, microbial ecology and community ecology.  Her work includes applied problems with an immediate application, for example pathogen control or how to landscape to support pollinators. Other questions may not have an immediate application but are nonetheless grounded in theory and will contribute to basic knowledge and conservation.