What types of research questions will your lab explore?
We will focus on the evolution and diversification of plants and the use of a phylogenetic framework (that is, an understanding of the relationships between different species) to analyze how plants evolve in ways most suited to their environment. Iím particularly interested in changes that happen in response to pollinators.
Pollinators play a special role in generating biodiversity. For example, when a group of plants acquires the ability to attract hummingbirds, the plants that arise with those characteristics (nectar production and red tubular flowers) may speciate more rapidly. But the association with specific pollinators also makes them more vulnerable to habitat loss. If the hummingbird population declines, the plant population will, too.
What attracted you to Berkeley?
My research is multidisciplinary, and there is a great benefit to being surrounded by researchers with similar interests who have different expertise. There is a very open feeling to the Berkeley campus, and faculty seem eager to forge research collaborations. Also, in both teaching and research, the students play a huge role in determining how much you as their teacher or mentor can learn in the process.