Not Set Ecology & Evolution- Theoretical, Computational, and Mathematical Biology

Ecology & Evolution

Computational and mathematical theory is an essential part of modern biology. Theory offers insight into complex systems from developmental networks to food webs, revealing phenomena not easily diagnosed from observation alone and guiding the design of new studies and new experiments. Mathematical theory applied to the ecology of infectious disease helps identify the threshold levels of vaccination necessary to contain a pathogen and theory applied to the dynamics of fishery stocks helps delimit the rates of harvesting that allow the stock to be sustainable. Theoretical work also provides the foundation for new methods of analyzing data in a wide variety of ecological and evolutionary contexts, methods that usually bring new insights into longstanding questions or that enable empirical scientists to develop entirely new questions about biological processes.

Faculty 1

Scott Burgess

My research combines ecological and evolutionary principles to study the population biology of coastal marine species (mainly invertebrates such as bryozoans and corals). Topics studied include larval dispersal, population connectivity, population dynamics, life history evolution, adaptive phenotypic plasticity, maternal effects, and local adaptation. I typically use some combination of field and laboratory experiments, field surveys, and mathematical modeling.

David Houle

I am an evolutionary geneticist, currently studying the evolution of development and how it affects morphology. The biggest unknowns in biology are the paths through which genetic variation affects the phenotype, and in turn how the phenotype affects organismal fitness. I believe that we need to greatly increase our ability to measure phenotypic characteristics, the phenome, before we can understand this genotype-phenotype-fitness map.

Brian D. Inouye

At each level of organization, from genes to species to communities, one of the most exciting aspects of biology is diversity. Why do some communities consist of so many species, when others are dominated by just a few? The central goal of my research program is to join theoretical and empirical approaches to understanding how species coexist.

Don R. Levitan

I am interested in the ecology and evolution of marine invertebrates. My work examines the interactions between ecological processes, natural and sexual selection, and molecular evolution. I am particularly interested in how sperm availability and population density influence the evolution of gamete traits and reproductive behavior and the cascading effects of this selection on reproductive isolation and speciation.  I enjoy integrating field experiments and molecular studies with theory.

Leithen M'Gonigle

In my research, I aim to understand how interactions between species 1) enable those species to persist and 2) direct their future evolution. I use a combination of theoretical, empirical, and statistical approaches. Topics I am most interested in include sexual selection, host-parasite interactions, and Allee effects. In my theoretical work, I also aim to generate empirically testable hypotheses and the corresponding tools needed to test them. Lastly, because insights about the origins and maintenance of biodiversity can inform conservation, I try to make connections with the appropriate conservation programs.

Austin R. Mast

My research program involves topics within the broadly defined area of biodiversity study. I am particularly interested in (1) the interplay of ecology and evolution that determines the form and function of plant life on Earth and (2) the use of biodiversity research specimens and digital information about them to bring that interplay into sharper focus.

Darin R. Rokyta

My research investigates the molecular and statistical properties of adaptive evolution. The overarching goal of my work is to develop a robust, quantitative model of adaptive evolution at the molecular level and the statistical methology to test the model predictions and assumptions.

Department of Scientific Computing Faculty 2

Peter Beerli

I study population genetic and phylogenetic inferences.

Alan Lemmon

I study phylogenetic inference and genomics.

Dennis Slice

I study all aspects of morphometric research, including theoretical morphometrics, the development of morphometric software, and the application of morphometric analysis to a number of problems.

Jim Wilgenbusch

I study a mix of theoretical and empirical problems, including assessment of MCMC convergence and lizard phylogeny.

  1 Can mentor graduate students in the Department of Biological Science.
  2 Cannot mentor graduate students in the Department of Biological Science.