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A Mentor and More: Rosemary Gillespie

In addition to directing the Exploring California Biodiversity program, Professor Rosemary Gillespie holds the Schlinger Chair of Systematics and is director of UC Berkeley’s Essig Museum of Entomology.

Her research focuses on the ecology, evolution, and conservation of arthropods, especially the spiders of remote islands. “I’m interested in how species diversity arises,” she says. “Islands can serve as microcosms of processes that are often much more difficult to understand on continents.”

Gillespie’s recent research has underscored the crucial role of habitat in allowing species to evolve and diversify. She’s found that similar kinds of species evolve repeatedly and independently, resulting in similar communities on different islands.

Gillespie also is playing a key role in the effort to genetically sequence the entire ecosystem of the Pacific island Moorea.

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