Research

We study life in context. Our research aims to answer fundamental questions that address national needs related to sustainable biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human and animal health and welfare. We focus on developing an integrative understanding of how complex biological systems develop, function, interact and evolve in a complex and changing world. Our vision is based on the proposition that by examining biological phenomena at all levels of the hierarchy of life in their ecological and evolutionary contexts, we can identify more meaningful questions and develop more meaningful answers. We work across the entire tree of life at all levels of biological organization, ranging from molecules to global ecosystems, over time scales ranging from milliseconds to millennia.

The faculty, postdoc, and graduate student directories provide general descriptions of our diverse research initiatives. A more vivid and dynamic picture can be seen from the news stories posted on our home page and abstracted below. Feel free to contact any of us for more information.

 

Our Research in the News

Feathered Friends: How the American Kestrel and Fruit Growers are Helping One Another
Feathered Friends: How the American Kestrel and Fruit Growers are Helping One Another

With the support of a USDA Speciality Crops Research Initiative Grant, the Lindell Lab has been investigating the impact of and possible solutions to crop damage by bird pests. Based on the ingenuity of American blueberry farmers, one potential solution is to attract American kestrels to their fruit orchards to take advantage of the the kestrels' natural tendency for hunting the insects, rodents, and small fruits that eat their blueberry crops. Lindell's team has been investigating the impact of attracting kestrels to cherry orchards since cherry orchards have similar problems with pest birds eating their fruit crop. They found that in areas with active kestrel nest boxes, there has been a decline in pest birds present in the orchards, less crop damage, and an increase in the struggling kestrel population. 

Elise Zipkin Awarded NSF Grant to Examine Continental-Scale Stressors on the Migratory Monarch Butterfly
Elise Zipkin Awarded NSF Grant to Examine Continental-Scale Stressors on the Migratory Monarch Butterfly

Elise Zipkin is the lead investigator of a $300,000 early career award from the National Science Foundation’s MarcoSystems Biology & Early NEON Science Program to investigate the effects of climate and land-use variables on the monarch butterfly and forecast future population changes at multiple scales across the continent.

Gars and Stripes: Research 'Flags' Evolutionary Ancestry of Pigment Patterns in Zebrafish, Spotted Gar
Gars and Stripes: Research 'Flags' Evolutionary Ancestry of Pigment Patterns in Zebrafish, Spotted Gar

Just as the stars and stripes reflect the history of our nation, Ingo Braasch’s “Gars and Stripes” project represents the evolution of genomic and morphological relationships among vertebrate animals—connecting the past with the present. New research published in the Journal of Experimental Zoology and in Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology reveals the evolutionary link between fish and other vertebrate animals.