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

When Chickens Go Wild
When Chickens Go Wild

The feral chickens of Kauai provide a unique opportunity to study what happens when domesticated animals escape and evolve.

New Species of Bird Discovered in India and China by International Team of Scientists
New Species of Bird Discovered in India and China by International Team of Scientists

A new species of bird has been discovered in northeastern India and adjacent parts of China by a team of scientists from Sweden, China, the U.S., India and Russia. 

The bird, described in the current issue of the journal Avian Research, has been named Himalayan forest thrush Zoothera salimalii. The scientific name honors the great Indian ornithologist Sálim Ali, in recognition of his contributions to the development of Indian ornithology and nature conservation.

To Deal with Breweries' Wastewater, This Researcher Wants to Turn it Into Fuel
To Deal with Breweries' Wastewater, This Researcher Wants to Turn it Into Fuel

Jakob Nalley, a graduate student in Elena Litchman's laboratory at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, is using a local Michigan brewery's wastewater as a medium to grow algae. Brewery wastewater happens to be rich in the nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, needed to grow this potential biofuel. Nalley was excited to find that when the algae was removed from the wastewater, the water might even be clean enough to be recycled back to the brewery for washing the equipment and floors. The implications are twofold: (1) a means to recycle excess brewery wastewater while (2) growing a potential biofuel which could become an alternative to fossil fuels.