CNS EEB Ecology Evolution and Behavior Graduate Program

Faculty

Jeffrey Barrick
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry


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My laboratory uses experiments with populations of microorganisms, nucleic acids, and digital organisms to study evolution in action with the ultimate goal of harnessing evolution as a creative force for synthetic biology. To ask how different types of mutations impact evolutionary potential, we are using deep sequencing to monitor the competitive dynamics of spontaneous beneficial mutations in these popula more
Faculty member

Daniel Bolnick
Associate Professor


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Work on my lab is focused on the following themes: 1. What is the genetic, immunological, and ecological basis of host adaptation to spatially heterogeneous parasite communities? This work includes field experiments testing local adaptation by hosts and parasites, analyses of selection and population genetics of candidate genes and the genome, and immunological measures of host responses to pathogens.  more
Faculty member

Deborah Bolnick
Assistant Professor, PH.D.


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Faculty member

Franklin H. Bronson
Professor
Director, Institute for Reproductive Biology

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Dr. Bronson's research focuses on the environmental regulation of mammalian reproduction. He is interested in the kinds of envionmental factors that can regulate reproduction and the neuroendocrine pathways that allow them to do so. He is particularly interested in seasonal breeding, the energetic regulation of reproduction, and the use of photoperiod as a predictive cue. He also has strong interests in mam more
Faculty member

James J. Bull
Johann Friedrich Miescher Regents Professor in Molecular Biology


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Evolutionary genetics from the molecular to the phenotypic levels comprises the bulk of my research. Specific topics include the evolution of engineered genomes, microbial drug resistance, and adaptation addressed empirically and theoretically. Experimental systems are developed in which evolution occurs over short time periods in the laboratory; the evolved lines are then analyzed at the molecular genetic more
Faculty member

David C. Cannatella
Professor
Curator of Herpetology, Texas Natural History Collections

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Dr. Cannatella and students in his lab study the evolution of amphibians. Some areas of interest are the higher-level phylogeny of amphibians, biodiversity of Neotropical frogs, signal evolution in frog mating calls, behavioral ecology of poison frogs, and relationship of bioinformatics and systematics. For more information, see the Cannatella Lab sitemore
Faculty member

Z. Jeffrey Chen
D. J. Sibley Centennial Professor in Plant Molecular Genetics


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We study genetic and epigenetic mechanisms for gene expression changes in polyploids. Polyploidy, or whole-genome duplication (WGD), is an evolutionary innovation for all eukaryotes including some animals and many plants. The common occurrence of polyploidy suggests an evolutionary advantage of having multiple sets of genetic material for adaptive evolution. However, increased gene and genome dosages in aut more
Faculty member

David Crews
Ashbel Smith Professor of Integrative Biology, and Psychology


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One of my research programs focuses on sex determination as a case study in how evolution has produced very different mechanisms for achieving the same end. Here I take advantage of the fact that in many reptiles the sex of the offspring depends on the incubation temperature of the egg, a process known as temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD). One question concerns how the physical stimulus of tem more
Faculty member

Molly Cummings
Associate Professor


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My research focuses on the external and internal mechanisms that drive biodiversity in animal communication traits. I combine environmental measures, behavioral experiments in the lab, and molecular approaches to achieve an integrative understanding of the sources and targets of selection for communication trait evolution. I conduct research in 3 major areas: neural mechanisms of mate choice, polarizatio more
Faculty member

Andy Ellington
Professor in Chemistry & Biochemistry
Wilson M. and Kathryn Fraser Research Professor In Biochemistry

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The Ellington Lab is a biotechnology lab that engineers nucleic acids and proteins for biomedical and other applications. Nucleic acid biosensors (aptamers, ribozymes) and nucleic acid circuits (DNA computers) are being harnessed to diagnostic applications, especially for point-of-care diagnostics in resource-poor settings and for facile tumor detection. With our collaborators, we are developing analytica more
Faculty member

Norma Fowler
Professor


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My students and I are currently pursuing a variety of questions in several areas of plant population biology and plant ecology. These areas include (1) the dynamics and regulation of plant populations; (2) competitive and facilitative interactions between plants and their consequences for community structure and for species distributions across their landscape; (3) the effects of herbivory and of fire on pl more
Faculty member

Lee A. Fuiman
Professor
Integrative Biology and Dept of Marine Science

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The past few decades have seen the biology of fish larvae blossom into an exciting field of research. These tiny, usually transparent early life stages had been neglected because of the difficulties in collecting, identifying, and maintaining them. With many of these problems solved, research is directed toward understanding how processes affecting larval fishes have serious consequences for populations of  more
Faculty member

Larry Gilbert
Professor
Director, Brackenridge Field Laboratory

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Dr. Gilbert's current research ranges from the analysis of coevolved traits of insects and plants to experimental population dynamics and developmental genetics of mimetic color patterns in Heliconius butterflies. By working across different levels of biology in the same tropical food web, he hopes to understand both the context and the mechanisms of evolution and coevolution. By carefully studying populati more
Faculty member

Robin Gutell
Professor in Integrative Biology


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The remarkable advances in Nucleic Acid sequencing and Computer technology is transforming Biology to a new level of understanding. We are now attempting to understand many biological and biochemical processes, and complex structures from a molecular sequence and molecular evolution perspective, utilizing computational biology and bioinformatics. Within this new frontier my lab is primarily interested i more

Faculty member

Christine Hawkes
Associate Professor


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Research in the Hawkes Lab is focused on a mechanistic understanding of how plant-microbe interactions affect community and ecosystem processes. We explore how these relationships are influenced by alterations in climate, species invasions, and land use. This research is highly integrative and relies on a wide range of techniques, including DNA-based microbial community analyses, stable isotope biogeochemis more
Faculty member

Dean Hendrickson
Lecturer, Ph.D.
Curator, Tx Mem Museum, Tx Nat Hist Collections

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Faculty member

David Hillis
Alfred W. Roark Centennial Professor In Natural Sciences
Director, Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics

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Evolutionary biology provides a conceptual framework for understanding patterns of molecular diversity. For instance, phylogenetic analyses have permeated most fields of molecular biology in recent years, from studies of the epidemiology of human immunodeficiency viruses to studies of the origin of life. Work in my lab is divided into two main areas: empirical studies of molecular evolution and the developm more
Faculty member

Hans A. Hofmann
Associate Professor
ICMB Fellow

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The research in Dr. Hofmann's laboratory seeks to understand the molecular and hormonal mechanisms that underlie social behavior and its evolution. African cichlid fishes are an ideal model system to address these questions because of their recent, repeated and rapid radiations that have resulted in hundreds of phenotypically diverse species. Our work uses a broad spectrum of approaches, ranging from ecolog more
Faculty member

Robert Jansen
Sidney F. and Doris Blake Centennial Professor In Systematic Botany and the Blake Collection


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My primary research interests involve the determination of phylogenetic relationships among plants and the evolution of the chloroplast genome. Research in my lab is concentrated in three areas: (1) organization and evolution of chloroplast genomes; (2) computational methods for comparative chloroplast genomics, (3) examination of extensive genetic integration between the two organelles and the nucleus in more
Faculty member

Shalene Jha



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Broadly, my research interests include landscape genetics, population ecology, conservation biology, and foraging ecology. More specifically, I am interested in examining how global land use change influences gene flow, foraging patterns, and population viability for plants and animals. I am investigating a number of these topics within human-altered landscapes in California, Texas, Panama, and Mexico. more
Faculty member

Thomas Juenger
Associate Professor, Integrative Biology
Ph.D.

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My research focuses on the interface of ecological and evolutionary processes in natural plant populations. I am generally interested in phenotypic evolution, and have studied a number of systems over the course of my career. A current focus in the lab is the identification and characterization of genes underlying variation in drought adaptation among Arabidopsis thaliana ecotypes collected from around the  more
Faculty member

Timothy Keitt
Associate Professor


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My research addresses broadly the structure and dynamics of ecological systems. The major question of my research program is how can we use modeling to scale-up microecological mechanisms related to individual traits and physical processes to predict macroecological outcomes such as population persistence, community organization, ecosystem function, biogeographic patterns and climate change impacts. Some of more
Faculty member

Mark A. Kirkpatrick
Professor


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How does evolution generate the fantastic diversity we see in nature? Our lab studies this question from a genetic perspective. My work uses mathematical models and develops statistical tools to test hypotheses. Students and postdocs in our group compliment these theoretical approaches with experimental ones. What kinds of questions interest us? We work on a wide range of problems. A big focus is ch more
Faculty member

Mathew Leibold
Professor


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The field of ecology, and from my perspective especially the fields of community and ecosystem ecology, are in a state of tremendous and exciting change. In part this is due to improved methods and theories that are revitalizing the field from an academic perspective. But this is also largely driven by changes in the motivations and goals of scientists who are increasingly interested in questions that have  more
Faculty member

Donald A. Levin
Professor
Associate Editor, Evolutionary Ecology

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Dr. Levin's research is currently focused on the function and dynamics of the breeding system in annual species of Phlox. This entails analyses of gene flow via pollen within and among populations, documentation of the number and frequency of self-incompatibility genes within populations, the nature of pollen-pistil incompatibility, the level of competition among pollen tubes in open-pollinated pistils, and more
Faculty member

C. Randal Linder
Associate Professor


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My research focuses on three areas: the evolution of complex character traits in a phylogenetic context, the genetic architecture of species, and genetic maternal effects in seeds. I use modern molecular techniques, computer modeling, and traditional experimental approaches. My primary work is the evolution of angiosperm seed-oil composition. I study the selective forces that have generated the wide variety more
Faculty member

Mikhail Matz
Assistant Professor, Integrative Biology


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We are an ecological genomics lab working predominantly with reef-building corals. Our main research projects are: (1) Adaptive genetic variation in reef-building corals. We use genetics and genomics to discover molecular determinants of thermal tolerance, dispersal range, and symbiosis specificity, and trace their evolution in natural populations. (2) Functions of coral fluorescent proteins: an inte more
Faculty member

James D. Mauseth
Professor


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Research in my lab centers on evolution of morphogenic mechanisms and structure. We use cacti as model organisms because the family contains a great amount of structural/developmental diversity and because the cactus genus Pekeskia retains numerous relictual characters. Plants of Pereskia have hard woody stems and ordinary large leaves. From ancestors like this, morphogenic mechanisms have evolved into ones more
Faculty member

Lauren Ancel Meyers
Professor


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The Meyers lab works on problems at the interface of evolution and epidemiology. We are simultaneously pursuing projects in two areas. They are applying network theory, agent-based simulation, and other quantitative tools to study the interplay between infectious disease transmission dynamics and the evolution of pathogens. In May 2003, Meyers began collaborating with researchers at the British Columbia more
Faculty member

Ian Molineux
Professor in Molecular Genetics & Microbiology


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Our major interest is understanding how nucleic acids pass through lipid bilayers. Our model system is bacteriophage T7, which uses three different motor proteins to transport its DNA into the cell at the initiation of infection. The phage ejects proteins into the cell that make a channel for DNA transport across the cell envelope and constitute the first molecular motor. We are characterizing this chann more

Faculty member

Nancy Moran
Professor


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Symbioses between animals and microbes have evolved many times, and have been a major influence on macroevolutionary patterns of diversification as well as short-term evolution within host populations. My lab group works on symbioses between insects and bacteria, using evolutionary, functional and genomic approaches. I've been especially interested in how the population genetics of the symbionts affects mut more
Faculty member

Ulrich Mueller
W.M. Wheeler Lost Pines Professor in Integrative Biology


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The Mueller lab studies evolution of organismal interactions, particularly evolution of social conflict & cooperation and evolution of mutualisms. Current research focuses on the behavior and coevolution between fungus-growing ants and their fungi, as well as plants and rhizosphere microbes, but Dr. Mueller admits to an inordinate fondness for any social insect and any mutualistic organism.

Ev more

Faculty member

Howard Ochman
Professor


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We apply experimental, comparative and computational approaches to investigate the factors contributing to the evolution of bacterial genomes and microbial communities. Some of our current projects investigate: 1. The role of adaptive and non-adaptive processes in bacterial genome evolution 2. The causes and consequences of genome reduction in bacterial pathogens 3. The origins of new genes and functio more
Faculty member

Jose L. Panero
Associate Professor
Assistant Director, Plant Resources Center

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As a plant systematist, Dr. Panero is interested in the distribution, diversity, and evolution of flowering plants. His research focuses on the elucidation of phylogenetic relationships among Neotropical members of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) using traditional and molecular techniques. Another important activity of the lab and the University of Texas Herbarium is the documentation of the floristic div more
Faculty member

Camille Parmesan
Professor


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Parmesan's early research focused on multiple aspects of population biology, including the ecology, evolution and behaviors of insect/plant interactions. For the past several years, the focus of her work has been on current impacts of climate change in the 20th century on wildlife. Her work on butterfly range shifts has been highlighted in many scientific and popular press reports, such as in Science, Scien more
Faculty member

Steven Phelps
Associate Professor


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The lab employs a diverse array of approaches, ranging from computational models to the molecular analysis of gene expression. This work is strongly anchored in empirical studies of animal behavior in both the laboratory and field. Using "exotic" rodent models, we focus on the nature and consequences of within- and between-species variation in neuronal gene expression and behavior. For example, we study how more
Faculty member

Eric R. Pianka
Denton A. Cooley Centennial Professor


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My interests are ever changing but have included population and community ecology, evolutionary ecology, natural history of desert lizards, resource partitioning, reproductive tactics, foraging theory, allocation, design constraints, thermoregulation, metapopulations, historical accident and biogeography, species diversity, macrodescriptors, pseudocommunities, phylogenetic systematics, computer simulation o more
Faculty member

William Press
Professor of Computer Sciences and Integrative Biology
Warren J. and Viola M. Raymer Chair

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My work is in computational biology, especially whole-genome studies. My collaborators and I develop and test new algorithms for finding and characterizing functional sequence, and for understanding evolutionary pressures affecting whole genomes. I am also interested in biostatistics, especially data mining on large experimental data sets, and in computational algorithms generally.
Faculty member

Mary Ann Rankin
Professor


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Research in Dr. Rankin's laboratory focuses on the physiological basis of insect behavior and life history characteristics. Recent research projects include 1) analyses of the hormonal, environmental and genetic factors controlling migratory behavior and reproductive development in several species of migratory insects; 2) investigation of the hormonal basis of wing polymorphism in insects and 3) analysis of more
Faculty member

Timothy Rowe
Director - Vertebrate Paleontology


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Michael J. Ryan
Clark Hubbs Regents Professor in Zoology


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Dr. Ryan studies animal behavior. Most of his work has addressed sexual selection and communication in frogs and fish. He is especially interested in integrating an understanding of the mechanisms of communication involved in mate attraction with the evolutionary consequences of sexual selection. More information - see a longer description (with pictures) of Dr. Ryan's research interests and more informa more
Faculty member

Sahotra Sarkar
Professor, Ph.D.
Integrative Biology and Philosophy

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The major thrust of our research is in systematic biodiversity conservation and restoration planning, in particular, the design of conservation area networks. However, we are interested in all areas of computational and mathematical biology, especially ecology and conservation biology.
Faculty member

Sara Sawyer
Assistant Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology


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Evolutionary changes driven by historical viral epidemics have left a molecular fossil record in our DNA sequence. Our goal is to learn about natural strategies that have been successful at beating viruses in the past, and how these might be exploited in the fight against modern viral attacks. We are using a broad array of techniques from molecular evolution, virology, experimental evolution, and comparativ more
Faculty member

Marty Shankland
Professor in Molecular Cell & Developmental Biology


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Our lab investigates the cellular events that underlie the spatial patterning of embryonic body plans, and the way those pattern-forming mechanisms have evolved during the diversification of multicellular animals. We are particularly interested in the superphylum Lophotrochozoa, a large group of invertebrate animals whose embryos show a unique and highly conserved pattern of development known as spiral clea more
Faculty member

Beryl B. Simpson
C. L. Lundell Professor


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Dr. Simpson's laboratory is engaged in an array of studies that deal with the phylogeny and biogeography of various angiosperm groups. Taxonomic groups range from monocots to the Asteraceae. Most biogeographic work is directed toward explaining patterns seen in the American Southwest, Mexico, and Central and South America. Methodologies for uncovering evolutionary histories include the use of cpDNA restrict more
Faculty member

Michael C. Singer
Professor, Ph.D.


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Our group has been interested in ecological, evolutionary and behavioral mechanisms by which plant-feeding insects come to be distributed across landscapes in both space and time. This interest spans what is beginning to seem like a very long time, my first publication on this topic was in Evolution in 1971. However, it is not static! It has evolved!
Faculty member

Ed Theriot
Jane and Roland Blumberg Centennial Professor of Molecular Evolution
Director, Texas Memorial Museum

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I study the evolution of diatoms in the context of earth history. My taxonomic focus is the diatom family Thalassiosiraceae, a family of marine and freshwater diatoms. There appears to have been a major invasion from the marine to the freshwater environment about 20 million years ago. Subsequently, these diatoms have become a major component of lake ecosystems. They have undergone periodic extinctions and r more
Faculty member

Peter Thomas
Professor, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist, Marine Sci Institute

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My research interests are the endocrine control of reproduction in fishes and other vertebrates and the effects of environmental factors such as hypoxia and pollutants on reproductive function. Research is conducted at the Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas and at field sites in the Gulf of Mexico region. A research emphasis is on the structure, functions and evolution of a new class of sex steroid r more
Faculty member

Tandy Warnow
Professor in Computer Sciences


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Phylogenies (i.e. evolutionary trees) are fundamental to our understanding of evolution, and their inference is a major part of research in many areas of biology. With the production of increasing amounts of biomolecular sequence data, we are reaching a moment where the bottleneck in phylogenetics is not the quantity of data, but its analysis. The most frequently used techniques for reconstructing trees f more
Faculty member

Claus Wilke
Professor in Integrative Biology


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I am a computational biologist. I use bioinformatical and statistical methods to analyze biological data sets, in particular whole-genome and high-throughput data sets; I also develop mathematical models and computer simulations of biological systems. While my lab does not perform any experiments, I have extensive collaborations with experimental groups and I frequently co-advise students whose research  more

Faculty member

Harold Zakon
Professor in Neuroscience


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Ion channels are fundamental for the workings of the nervous system. We study the function, regulation, and evolution of voltage-dependent ion channels. Our main focus has been to study the regulation of sodium and potassium channels by hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, and by phosphorylation. A major emphasis of the laboratory has been cloning these ion channel genes and understanding their transcri more
Faculty member
Star Coral found in the Mediterranean Sea. Photo: Bill Allen Coney (Epinephelus fulva) grouper. Photo: Bill Allen DNA microarray. Photo: Z. Jeffrey Chen Butterfly (Psiguria Heliconius). Photo: Roxi Steele Water lily. Photo: Shutterstock images Red eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas). Photo: Luis Bonachea