Regina Baucom – Principal Investigator
Gina earned her BS from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and her PhD from the Genetics Department at the University of Georgia. She was a post-doctoral research associate in Jeff Bennetzen’s lab, also at UGA, before joining the faculty at University of Cincinnati in 2010. She moved to the University of Michigan in 2013. Gina is broadly interested in plant adaptation, genome structure and function, and plant-microbial interactions.
Previous to coming to Ann Arbor I worked a year and a half at the Tropical Agriculture Research Station at Mayaguez in a research project related to understanding how genetic diversity is correlated to virulence and pathogenicity of ashy stem blight, Macrophomina phaseolina against common bean plants. This past experience has driven me to pursue research in the area of conservation agriculture and further my understanding behind the ecology and evolution of microbe-plant systems. My current goals lay in improving what is known about plant fitness in function of microbial biodiversity. I aim to gather from statistical, phylogenetic and population genetics to explore how the evolution of microbe communities may be associated to loss, gain or maintenance of fitness traits in plant species of interest.
Sonal received a BE (Bachelors in Engineering) with an emphasis in biotechnology and moved on to completing a Masters degree in Computational and Systems Biology at Jawaharlal Nehru University. She is broadly interested in studying crop evolution and its phenotypic consequences related to adaptation, and is currently studying the potential role of leaf shape variation in crop improvement sweetpotato. Leaf shapes are highly variable in sweetpotato and have been hypothesized in some other species (tomato, cotton, apple) to play a role in yield quality. She will use quantitative and population genetics approaches to understand the underlying genetic basis of leaf shape to help propose a mechanism for potential crop improvement.
Nia Johnson – PhD Student
Prior to moving to Ann Arbor, Nia was a 5th grade science teacher as a Teach for America corps member in Camden, New Jersey. She earned her BS (Bachelors in Science) in 2015 at Howard University with a concentration in biology and chemistry. While at Howard, Nia completed her senior honors thesis under the direction of Dr. Mary McKenna, investigating the elemental defense hypothesis on mustard, Alyssum murale, with both generalist and specialist insect species. She is broadly interested in plant adaptions as they relate to plant-herbivore as well as plant-microbial interactions.
Yoav Jacobs – Brassica pollinator
Yoav is starting a new line of research in the lab using Brassica rapa fast plants!
Amirah Bin-Mahfouz – UROP student
Benjamin Lilleskov – UROP student
Thomas Repasky – Honors student, Maize community genetics
Malia Santos – Research Technician
Malia received her Bachelors degree from Willamette University under the guidance of Dr. Christopher Smith. Her senior thesis investigated the genetic differentiation between populations of Great Bustards (Otis tarda) that reside across Europe and Asia using DNA sequence analyses run in UNIX. The primary focus of this research was to increase conservation efforts of the Central Asian Great Bustard (Otis tarda dybowskii). After graduation she worked to prepare her thesis for publication and presented her findings at Evolution 2016 meetings. Her broad interests lie in using genetic data to answer empirical applied questions in conservation biology.
Megan received her PhD from the University of Georgia in 2009. Her dissertation research investigated the maintenance of both female and hermaphroditic individuals within populations of a native geranium species. She found that the initial invasion of females may be difficult due to the genetic control of sex and pollinator discrimination against females. However, once established gynodioecy appears to be stable in this species due to increased seed production and flowering frequency in females and selection on hermaphrodites to maintain both male and female function. Since her dissertation she has worked on variety of projects centered around forces affecting gene movement on a variety of levels. These projects have included how population level characteristics influence pollen movement in Alfalfa, how environmental changes affect plant floral traits in a columbine species, and how bird abundance affects selfing rates in two New Zealand tree species.
Diego Alvarado Serrano – Post-Doctoral Research Associate
After earning his PhD from University of Michigan under the supervision of Dr. Lacey Knowles, Diego spent 2 years as a Postdoctoral Researcher in Michael Hickerson’s lab at the City University of New York. Diego’s interests broadly lie around evolutionary responses to environmental heterogeneity and change, and how these responses influence the accumulation of phenotypic and genotypic diversity. In particular, his research focuses on the interaction between landscape spatio-temporal variation and population genetics with the aim of improving our understanding of (i) diversification processes and evolutionary mechanisms underlying the differential accumulation of diversity across the globe, (ii) genetic consequences of climate-induced distributional shifts, and (iii) the role that taxon-specific ecologies and the spatio-temporal configuration of habitats play in determining species’ genetic and demographic responses to environmental change. His dissertation integrated theoretical expectations with comprehensive analyses of species genetic and phenotypic variation to uncover evolutionary responses to environmental heterogeneity in small terrestrial mammals in the hyper-diverse northern Andes. Building on this work, his research expanded to advance analytical approaches that explicitly incorporate geography into genetic studies by integrating spatial and ecological niche modeling into rigorous statistical hypothesis frameworks that bridge the methodological gap between landscape genetics and phylogeography.
Adam Kuester Post-Doctoral Research Associate
Ciera Crawford Undergraduate Researcher
Eva Fall Undergraduate Researcher
Lindsay Chaney PhD, May 2014, Assistant Professor, Snow College, Utah
Lindsay’s dissertation investigated the evolutionary potential of weediness traits (sensu Baker 1974) in the common morning glory. She has also looked at evolutionary response of tolerance and putative defense traits in the presence of interspecific competition. Lindsay’s future research focuses on the cost of defense traits and how the evolution may be constrained by fitness and/or ecological costs. Follow this link to her webpage for more information.
Anneka Jankowiak, MS Student
Alexandra Teodorescu, UROP student
Steven Smitka, UROP student
Trent Leslie, MS 2013
Sara Matthews, Research Technician
Alexander Wang, Undergraduate Researcher
Katie Pieper, Undergraduate Researcher
Travis Theders, Undergraduate Researcher
Tasiah Thomas, Undergraduate Researcher
Ali Zuchowski, Undergraduate Researcher
Nathan Schoonmaker, Undergraduate Researcher
Scott Curran, Undergraduate Researcher
Eric Cicconetti, Undergraduate Researcher
Deborah LeGendre, Undergraduate Researcher
Laurie Elliot, Undergraduate Researcher
Matt Merriweather, Undergraduate Researcher
Zara Ahmed, Undergraduate Researcher
Alan Cone, Undergraduate Technician
Sarah Hill, Undergraduate Technician