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.



Rebecca Dalton, starting May 2019 (PhD Candidate, Duke University)

Research interests:

I use a combination of field experiments, observations,
and demographic models to examine ​the relationship between climate change, phenology, and species interactions.

Rebecca's website

Jacob Heiling, starting May 2019 (PhD Candidate, North Carolina State University)

Research interests:

I study species interactions, and have a particular interest in the role that plant-animal interactions play in the evolution of plant traits and reproductive strategies.

Jacob's website


Graduate Students:

Molly Wiebush, MS student (BS Colorado State fUniversity, BA College of Idaho)

Research interests: I am 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.

Contact: mwiebush@fsu.edu

Jessie Mutz, PhD candidate (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

Elizabeth Faircloth, non-thesis MS student (BS FSU)

Research interests: My interests include plant-pollinator interactions for rare plants and land management strategies which implement thoughtful practices for preservation of in-peril species. I want to know more about why rare plants are rare and how habitat disturbance effects the plant-pollinator mutualistic relationship.  


Penelope Ales (BS Florida State University)

Research interests: I am broadly interested in the links between animal/environmental interactions with plants and their effects on plant physiology, function, and population dynamics. I am particularly interested in these effects in the context of climate change.


Undergraduate Students:


Demi White

Research Interests: Effects of neighborhing plants on plant fitness

Matthew Willson

Research interests: My general research interests include species interactions in tropical mammal communities. I am also interested in coevolution from pairwise interactions between plants and insects.

Current and recent collaborators:  

Dr. Stacey Halpern, Pacific University

Dr. Peter Hamback, Stockholm University

Dr. Johan Ehrlen, Stockholm University

Dr. Jennifer Thaler, Cornell University

Dr. Kevin Robertson, Tall Timbers Research Station

Dr. David McNutt, Tallahassee Community College

Dr. Rebecca Irwin, North Carolina State University

Dr. Aimee Classen, University of Vermont

Dr. David Inouye, Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory

Former lab members:  


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

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

Graduate Students:

Andrew Merwin (PhD FSU). Program of Excellence Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Nebraska, starting as Assistant Professor at Baldwin Wallace University, OH fall 2019.

Josh Grinath (PhD FSU). Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Idaho, fall 2019

David McNutt (PhD FSU). Assistant Professor, Tallahassee Community College

Tania Kim
(PhD FSU, Postdoc UW Madison). Assistant Professor, Kansas State University

Amanda Buchanan
(PhD FSU, Postdoc MSU). Developmental Scientist/Entomologist, ALK Source Materials.


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, MA TESOL). Managing study abroad for Concordia University.
John Fort (BA Swarthmore College). STEM teacher Chaffey High School.
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
Alexandra Niedzwiecki, M.S. student in School of Environmental Science and Forestry, and School of Public Policy, University of Washington
Nick Porter, MPH, Environmental Health Science and Policy, George Washington University.
Kerri Brinegar
, MS in GIS student, FSU Geography Department
Ordom Huot, PhD in Entomology Texas A&M, now postdoc NC State University
Troy Simon, PhD in Ecology UGA, now Research Professional, 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, MD Creighton University, now resident in Psychiatry SIU School of Medicine
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, when last seen.

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