BOT 2011C Plant Diversity

demonscoverThe earth today contains a tremendous diversity of photosynthetic organisms – what processes explain how they evolved and why they persist? In this class we survey the biological diversity of modern algae and land plants, with an eye toward understanding why studying plant diversity is important in our modern society. We consider first the traditional classification of plants, and how this system has been revolutionized by phylogenetic analyses of genetic and now genomic data. We then turn to study the evolutionary processes that generate biodiversity and the ecological processes that shape this diversity. Finally, we turn to critically evaluating perceived threats to biodiversity, including invasive species, nitrogen deposition, climate change, and transgenic crops. Throughout the semester we read a mix of journal articles from the primary literature, popular science pieces, and Jonathan Silvertown’s excellent book, Demons in Eden: The Paradox of Plant Diversity. In the laboratory students see examples of the species we discuss in class and learn to identify key traits and species. After completing the course students will develop a timeline of the main events in the history of photosynthetic organisms, an overview of their diversity, and a conceptual understanding of the processes that generate and maintain this diversity.

Offered every Spring semester

ZOO 6927 PopBio Seminar Series

This is a forum for grad students, postdocs, and visiting scientists to present works in progress in a casual, discussion-oriented format. The presentations generally address questions in population genetics and evolutionary ecology that relate to molecular evolution, mating behavior, biogeography, character evolution, quantitative genetics, and genome evolution to name a few recent topics. Each year we have a grad-student invited speaker; in 2012 we had Matt Hahn from Indiana U. 2013 Luke Harmon from U. Idaho, and 2014 Matt Rockman from NYU.

The seminar meets Fridays at 4:05p in Carr 222 (beverages are generally served at 4p). All are welcome for any talk, but you can sign up for credit in the Biology office at the beginning of each semester.

Offered every semester


PCB 6685 – Population Genetics (formerly Evolutionary Processes)

This is a graduate course that explores how the major forces of evolution (natural selection, genetic drift, mutation, and migration) influence patterns of genetic variation within populations, inferences about population structure, and the speciation process. The course is intended for MS or PhD students (in the FLMNH, Biology, Genetics, PMCB, SNRE or other graduate programs) interested in an introduction to the principals of quantitative and population genetics. The course covers topics including F-statistics, detecting selection and local adaptation, linkage disequilibrium, the site frequency spectrum, and speciation genetics (Population Genetics Syllabus Fall2015). Students will lean to generate simulations using population genetics software or the statistical software R to facilitate understanding the relationships among key population genetic parameters. Students will also prepare an NSF-style pre-proposal that other students in the class will review following NSF merit review criteria. By the end of the course, the student will be expected to: Understand the fundamental principles of population and quantitative genetics, molecular evolution, evolutionary ecology, and phylogeography; Know the assumptions that underlie major approaches to analysis of population genetic data and how they affect the inferences that can be made from those data; Be able to describe how natural selection, genetic drift, mutation, migration, and linkage influence the patterns of genetic variation within and among populations; and Identify major unanswered questions in evolutionary genetics.

Offered in odd Fall semesters

I also contribute to teaching Introductory Biology (BSC2010 / 2011)

I taught an experimental Plant Anatomy class (BOT 4935/5225) each Fall from 2010-2012