Department of Biological Science
Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1100

Office: 2008 King Life Sciences Building
Telephone: 850-644-4167
email: nunderwood@bio.fsu.edu

Home Research People Teaching Publications


Nora Underwood (BA Vassar College, PhD Duke University)

Research Interests:

I am interested in how the characteristics of individual organisms influence population dynamics, evolution, and species interactions. To make connections between individuals and populations I think about things like genetic variation, phenotypic plasticity, movement behavior, spatial scale and environmental variation, as well as how population dynamics and evolution interact. I work on interactions between plants and insect herbivores because they play important roles in natural and agricultural communities so I can focus on basic research questions while also generating information that can be applied to the practical problems of developing more sustainable agriculture. Because the questions that I ask span levels of organization from characteristics of individuals to populations, and encompass both long and short time-frames, I use a combination of greenhouse and field experiments with mathematical modeling.



Jane Ogilvie (BS Griffith University Australia, PhD University of Toronto Canada)

Research interests: I am a field biologist interested in the interactions between flowering plants and flower-visiting animals. I do my field work at the wonderful Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Colorado. I think a lot about plant and bee phenology, and pollinator foraging in space and time and the implications for plant pollination. My current projects include work on plant and bee phenology under climate change and linking pollinator foraging behavior to pollination.

Jane's website


David McNutt (BS Indiana University, PhD Florida State)

Research interests: I am interested in the evolution of induced defenses in plants, which are physical or chemical defenses produced in response to herbivore damage.  My research investigates how the combination of multi-species interactions, internal constraints, and costs of plasticity may constrain the evolution of these defenses.  I have used greenhouse and field experiments to examine genetic variation and constraints in the interaction of the clonal plant Solanum carolinense (Carolina horsenettle) with its insect herbivores Leptinotarsa juncta (false potato beetle) and Manduca sexta (tobacco hornworm).  I am currently testing whether costs of plasticity constrain the expression of proteinase inhibitors, which S. carolinense produces in its defensive response to these herbivores.

Contact: dmcnutt@bio.fsu.edu
David's web site

Graduate Students:

Andrew Merwin (MS UC Davis)

Research interests:  I am interested in the ecology and evolution of range expansion.  The borders of species ranges are dynamic, especially in the case of rapidly expanding invasive species.  In particular, I'm investigating how spatial heterogeneity in resources determines rates of spread, as well as the potential role of evolution through spatial sorting of dispersive phenotypes.  To address these questions I'm using mathematical model fitting in the lab with the model organism, Callosobruchus maculatus (heterogeneity), as well as field and labwork with the invasive kudzu bug and its obligate symbiont (spatial sorting). 

Contact: acmerwin@bio.fsu.edu


Molly Wiebush (BS Colorado State University, BA College of Idaho)

Research interests: I'm interested in how heterogeneity within large scale disturbances (such as uneven burning within forest fires) affects community structure and species interactions, and in how to apply this knowledge to problems of conservation and ecosystem restoration. I am also excited about encouraging understanding of and enthusiasm for science and the natural world in the general public.


Jessie Mutz (BA University of Florida)

Research interests:I am broadly interested in the feedbacks between individual traits, emergent spatial patterns, and population-level processes. My current research addresses how density-dependent interactions occurring at small spatial scales change through ontongeny in an herbivorous beetle, Leptinotarsa juncta, and ultimately scale up to affect population growth and the evolution of traits such as clutch size and movement (e.g., foraging behavior, conspecific aggregation).

Contact: jmutz@bio.fsu.edu


Kyle Spells (BS Florida State University)

Research interests: TBA



Undergraduate Students:

Jacob Hart

Research Interests: Effects of habitat size and shape on movement of ground beetles.


Michelle Smith

Research interests: Does plant density affect attack by insect herbivores? Effects of plant density on herbivores of collards and kale.


Prathyusha Pamidi

Research interests: Honors thesis: plant neighborhood effects on herbivores and pollinators on Erigeron sp. at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Colorado

Former lab members:  


Alyssa Hakes (PhD University of Louisianna). Assistant Professor, Lawrence University.
Jessica Hines (PhD University of Maryland). Postdoctoral Researcher, EAWAG Aquatic Research Institute, Switzerland
Tom E.X. Miller (PhD University of Nebraska). Assistant Professor, Rice University. Research interests: demographic consequences of biotic interactions.
Kurt Anderson (PhD UC Santa Barbara). Assistant Professor, UC Riverside. Research interests: quantitative and theoretical ecology

Stacey Halpern (PhD University of Minnesota). Associate professor, Pacific University, OR. Research interests: Plant-insect interactions; evolution in response to environmental stress; influence of herbivores on invasive plants

Graduate Students:

Josh Grinath (PhD FSU). Postdoc, University of Colorado, Boulder
David McNutt (PhD FSU). Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow, FSU.
Tania Kim (PhD FSU). Postdoc, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Amanda Buchanan (PhD FSU). Postdoc, Michigan State University


Allyssa Kilanowski (BS St. Lawrence Univerisity). PhD student University of Kentucky, Lexington. Irina Shapiro (BS University of Maryland). Graduate student, UC Davis. Emily Sipe (BA Pacific University). Teaching English in Korea. John Fort (BA Swarthmore College). MS student, Interdisciplinary Ecology program, University of Florida.Alex Forde (BA Carleton College). PhD Student, University of Maryland, College Park.David Honig (BA Grinnell College). PhD student, Duke University. Joe Simonis (BA University of Illinois, PhD Cornell University). Postdoc, Center for Applied Population Biology, Lincoln Park Zoo. Katherine McAlister (BA Swarthmore College). Naturalist, Kern Environmental Education Program, CA. Robin Hopkins (BA Brown University, PhD Duke University). Assistant Professor, Harvard University.  

Some of our Undergraduate Researchers and where they are now:

Jacob Hart, PhD student in Conservation Biology, University of Central Florida
Rachel Atchison, Masters student, University of Florida Department of Entomology
Nick Porter, MPH, Environmental Health Science and Policy, George Washington University.
Kerri Brinegar
, MS in GIS student, FSU Geography Department
Rachel Atchison. Research technician, Michigan State University.
Troy Simon, PhD student, University of Georgia
Ryan Eckert, Research assistant, Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.
Michael Martinez, Vet school bound
Katty Paulino, Administrative Staff, St. Joseph of St. Augustine School
Meredith Robbins, Vet school bound
Anna Gutterman, FSU school of Nursing.
Maria Sardi
Nana Cudjoe, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University.
Amber Lefstead. MS in Conservation Biology, University of Maryland. Now with EPA WaterSense program, Washington DC.

Brian Bielfelt. Biologist, Southern California Edison.
Corinne Klein. Research technician, US Department of Agriculture
Emily Fairbanks.
Amanda White. FSU Med School
Melanie Baker. PhD, North Carolina State University, Department of Entomology. UN FAO, Rome Italy
Natalie Hummel. PhD, University of California Davis, Department of Entomology. Rice Extension Entomologist, LA State University
Molly Puente. PhD, North Carolina State University, Department of Entomology. NIH Administrative Fellow
Toshihiko Yoshida. Graduate student, Michigan State University???

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