Patina K. Mendez



I study the life history and ecology of aquatic insects. Through research and teaching, I have a strong commitment to providing undergraduate research experiences. Many of my projects include my interests in integrating technology and visual arts into research communication.

Current Position

As a Continuing Lecturer for UC Berkeley’s Environmental Sciences Program, I teach the capstone Environmental Sciences course -- ESPM175A (Fall) & ESPM175B (Spring): Senior Seminar in Environmental Sciences. Through this course series, I teach scientific writing and statistics and mentor senior undergraduate students during their senior thesis research projects. These courses employ a highly structured curriculum designed to meet the individualized research and support needs of students.

I have also taught ESPM100ES: Introduction to the Methods in Environmental Science, ESPM115B: Biology of Aquatic Insects, and BIO1B: General Biology Lab.

Research Interests

As a freshwater ecologist, I study the life history of benthic macroinvertebrates. The life history characteristics (e.g., life cycle timing, feeding, reproductive strategies, etc.) of freshwater invertebrates are closely linked with habitat. Using natural history museum collections and field-studies of caddisflies, I work to characterize life history variation on very small spatial scales, but also across large latitudinal gradients. I’m especially interested in how the timing of life cycle stages can vary across these scales. I also test models of benthic macroinvertebrate community structure using life history traits in spatially large datasets.

Most of my work is on caddisflies (Trichoptera), a group of insects closely-related to moths and butterflies, that spend most of their life cycle in an aquatic larval stage that builds a case or retreat. I study life history, taxonomy, systematics, and species distributions of western caddisflies. My projects also include a database document the biodiversity of caddisflies in California streams to help broaden our understanding of species diversity and changes in distributions over the past 100 years. I'm am a curator of the Trichoptera Literature Database, a bibliography of 14,000 references on Trichoptera and the Trichoptera Library.