Systematics and Evolution
Faculty in this section study the diversity of plants, algae, fungi, and lichens. Systematics is a synthetic science that employs multiple lines of evidence to develop systems of nomenclature, classification, monographs, floristic inventories, and hypotheses of phylogenetic relationships. The process of evolution and mechanisms of speciation are the ultimate driving forces leading to the diversity of life, and so it has been famously stated that “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” Faculty in Systematics and Evolution specialize in the taxonomy and evolution of various plant lineages, statewide floristics, tropical fieldwork, herbarium curation, methods and theory of phylogenetic reconstruction, and the interplay among evolution, ecology, biogeography, and development.
Members specializing in ecology analyze the basis for ecological and evolutionary patterns in plant life history, adaptive morphology, and community structure, with particular emphasis on the selective forces that may underlie them, and on the empirical trends they generate at various scales of resolution. Specific interests include biomechanics, physiological ecology, plant hydraulics, economic analyses of plant form, pollination biology, evolution and genetics of mating systems, plant-animal and plant-fungal interactions, ecological genetics, ordination and classification of communities, hierarchy theory, restoration ecology, and conservation biology.
Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Faculty members in this section study the mechanisms that produce and control plant growth and development. Ongoing research projects employ model research species Arabidopsis, maize, and rice to investigate several processes from ranging across the plant life cycle from seed germination to flowering with all manner of modern molecular, genetic, biochemical, physiological, and microscopy techniques. See the following faculty member web pages for more specific information about current research.