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E&E Department Faculty
H. Resit Akcakaya, Professor (CV)
Ph.D., Stony Brook University 1989
Applied ecology, conservation biology
LS674, (631)632-8605
Akcakaya Lab Website
Research Summary:
My research focuses on developing and applying quantitative methods to address questions in conservation biology and environmental risk assessment. The following topics are examples of the types of questions that I am currently interested in:
Climate change impacts on biodiversity: I am developing methods that link climate change models, species distribution or habitat suitability models, and metapopulation models with dynamic spatial structure, to predict the vulnerability of species to global climate change.
Status and trends of biodiversity: I am interested in methods to quantify and analyze the threat status of species and trends in threat status, including quantitative methods for estimating spatial and temporal uncertainties in parameters used in threatened species assessments based on the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria.
Species conservation: I use habitat-based metapopulation models to estimate the risk of extinction or decline, and to evaluate the chances for recovery with different management and conservation options.
Population dynamics: I am interested in developing new methods for modeling population dynamics, estimating model parameters, analyzing population declines, and validating extinction risk estimates.
Demographic toxicity: Currently, most assessments of the ecological impacts of pollutants use bioassays at the individual organism level. I am interested in developing standard methods that will allow ecotoxicological impacts to be assessed at the more relevant population and species levels.
For more information, see the Akcakaya Lab web site (see link above).
Stephen Baines, Associate Professor (CV)
Ph.D., Yale University, 1993
Aquatic ecosystem ecology, ecological stoichiometry
LS112, (631)632-1092
Baines Lab Website
Research Summary:
I am an ecosystem ecologist interested in how organism characteristics, ecological processes and factor acting over regional scales combine to shape aquatic biogeochemical cycles that involve carbon and trace elements. My current research foci can be divided into three areas.
First, I try to understand variability in the elemental composition of microscopic organisms that form the base of open water food webs - namely phytoplankton, bacteria and protozoa -- and how this variability may also influence nutrient cycles or the transfer of contaminant elements through food-webs. I do so with field and laboratory experiments using radioisotopes, biokinetic modeling of contaminant accumulation by organisms, ecological stoichiometric modeling of food-web and recycling dynamics and X-ray fluorescence microscopic measurements of the elemental content of individual plankton cells collected from nature.
Second, I study how the use of dissolved organic matter (DOM) as an energetic subsidy by aquatic consumer organisms can allow them to sidestep the negative feed-backs that typically occur in predator-prey systems, potentially leading to persistent reductions in the resource base upon which other consumer organisms depend. Because many toxic trace elements form complexes with dissolved organic matter, uptake of DOM by organisms also exposes them to contaminant metals and alters the movement of these contaminants through aquatic ecosystems. I am interested in how "bioavailability" of DOM varies over space and time, the sources of bioavailable fractions, and how the characteristics of the surrounding landscape may affect the susceptibility of lakes and rivers to transformative change by invasive organisms.
Finally, I use statistical analysis of long-term data sets to determine the degree to which the dynamics of neighboring ecosystems are synchronized by regional climate. This approach allows me to gauge the relative importance of extrinsic forces, local context and intrinsic dynamics as drivers of ecosystem variables. This question is important not only for the interpretation of long-term ecological data, but also generally in the effective monitoring and management of lakes, rivers and coastal embayments.
Michael A. Bell, Professor (CV)
Ph.D., UCLA, 1976
Contemporary evolution, evolutionary genetics
LS023, (631)632-8574
Bell Lab Website
Research Summary:
Mike Bell's research concerns patterns of morphological variation in time and space in the threespine stickleback fish, Gasterosteus aculeatus. This species complex is emerging as one of the premier systems in evolutionary biology because it exhibits extraordinary phenotypic diversity (Fig. 1) and has several qualities that make it easy to study. Threespine stickleback are widespread in north temperate and boreal regions and have invaded fresh water innumerable times from the ocean to found freshwater populations. Here they occupy diverse habitats and rapidly undergo adaptive radiation that is highly predictably in relation to food type, predation regime, water clarity, and other factors. Consequently, freshwater populations in similar habitats have similar phenotypes and can be used as replicate samples in comparative studies to infer selection mechanisms and the genetic and developmental basis of similar phenotypes in different populations. Stickleback reproductive and parental behavior have been studied for several decades, and extensive knowledge of morphology, behavior, and life history has been combined in studies of population biology and speciation. The first linkage map for threespine stickleback was published in 2001, and rapid progress is being made to develop specialized tools for research in stickleback genomics.
Bell's laboratory houses extensive research collections of threespine stickleback from Cook Inlet Alaska (Fig. 2) and fossil stickleback from Nevada (Fig. 3). The lab is well equipped to study variation of armor traits and body form, and fish can be reared for genetic analysis or to produce subjects for research in behavior and functional morphology. Bell's research interests include variation of armor phenotypes among lake populations in relation to environmental factors, patterns of evolutionary change on the time scale of centuries in fossils (Fig. 4) and generations in modern populations, relationships between ontogeny and morphological variation and between multivariate variation and multivariate evolution, and transmission genetics. He conducts field research in Cook Inlet, Alaska on modern populations and in west-central Nevada on fossil stickleback. Bell collaborates with genomists and developmental geneticists on the evolution of gene expression during skeletal developmental. By focusing on traits of a well-studied species from multiple biological perspectives, he is studying the interactions of phylogeny, environmental change, genetic architecture, development, and natural selection in determining patterns of phenotypic variation in time and space.
Liliana M. Dávalos, Associate Professor (CV)
Ph.D., Columbia University, 2004
Phylogenetics, tropical deforestation
LS630, (631)632-1554
Dávalos Lab Website
Research Summary:
I’m an evolutionary biologist interested in the ancient history of biodiversity and its conservation. At my lab, we focus on how diversity in species and traits arises, and on helping shape policy to conserve ecosystems today and into the future.
Walter F. Eanes, Professor (CV)
Ph.D., Stony Brook University, 1976
Molecular evolution, phylogenetic analysis
LS634, (631)632-8593
Eanes Lab Website
Research Summary:
I work on the population genetics and molecular evolution of Drosophila as a model system. In general we are attempting to interface life history, populations genetics, pathway influences, and phenotypic effects of individual metabolic enzymes. We have a large database of metabolic enzymes involving glycogen, trehalose and triglyceride synthesis on D. melanogaster. This includes a sample of about 20 gene sequences (down through the glycolytic pathway) that allow us to identify specific amino aid sequences and recognized specific footprints in sequence data that allow inference about possible selective effects. We also have a set of population samples from Florida to Vermont that allow us to identify specific geographic patterns such as latitudinal clines. Using the P-element insertion series in D. melanogaster we have begun the functional knockout of specific genes in critical points. This has already allowed us to test specific effects of pathway activity variation and determine if individual steps have control over metabolic pool steady levels or possibly flux levels. The flux levels are assayed using NMR measurements using 13C stable isotopes. In addition we have an ongoing project funded by the NSF and in collaboration with Paul Schmidt at Penn to study the ecological genetics of the female reproductive diapause trait in Drosophila melanogaster. Our lab's primary role is in the QTL mapping and identification of the gene or genes responsible for this complex trait life history.
Douglas J. Futuyma, Distinguished Professor (CV)
Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1969
Evolutionary processes; evolutionary ecology; coevolution
LS670, (631)632-1411

Research Summary:
Douglas Futuyma's research interests in evolution focus primarily on speciation and the evolution of ecological interactions among species. He has been a Guggenheim and a Fulbright Fellow, the President of the Society for the Study of Evolution, the American Society of Naturalists, and the American Insitute of Biological Sciences, the editor of Evolution, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He is editor of the Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, and is the author of the successful textbooks Evolutionary Biology and Evolution.
Most of his work has centered on the population biology of herbivorous insects and the evolution of their affiliation with host plants. Research on several species centered on genetic differences conferring adaptation to different host plants, and cast light on the evolution of host specificity. Recent work has focussed on whether or not constraints on genetic variation are likely to have influenced the phylogenetic history of host associations in a group of leaf beetles, and on the pattern of speciation in this group. Futuyma's students have worked on diverse evolutionary and ecological studies of insect-plant interactions and of speciation in insects.
Catherine Graham, Associate Professor (CV)
Ph.D., University of Missouri-Saint Louis, 2000
Biogeography, conservation biology, ecology
LS636, (631)632-1962
Graham Lab Website
Research Summary:
Catherine Graham research is in two main areas: empirical work focused on landscape and behavioral ecology, with an emphasis on how human-altered landscapes affect ecological processes; and bioinformatics/geographic information systems modeling to examine how current and historical environmental factors affect patterns of species distribution. At a landscape scale she examines how landscape- and local-level factors influence patterns of habitat use by animals. Particularly, she is interested in bridging the gap between landscape and behavioral ecologists, who generally work at completely different scales. This disparity has resulted in a lack of empirical landscape-oriented behavioral information with which to develop a broad perspective on fragmentation effects. At a regional scale she is integrating museum data, environmental GIS layers, distributional niche models and phylogenetic information to better understand processes that may have led to current species distribution patterns. Catherine focuses on tropical systems and is currently collaborating with researchers from Ecuador, Colombia and Australia.
Jessica Gurevitch, Professor (CV)
Ph.D., University of Arizona, 1982
Biological invasions, plant population
LS638, (631)632-8590
Gurevitch Lab Website
Research Summary:
Prof. Gurevitch was the Chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolution from Sept. 2006 to Aug. 2012.
My research spans several traditional categories within the field of ecology. While my work has always been concerned with addressing questions of basic scientific interest, I have attempted to connect the basic research to issues with applied and conservation relevance. I have carried out both experimental and quantitative measurement studies to address fundamental questions about plant populations and communities. I am also interested in statistical applications in ecology, particularly in research synthesis and meta-analysis, and in the design and analysis of ecological experiments. I have worked on extensive field studies of the demography of disturbance-adapted species including pitch pines (Pinus rigida) in the Long Island, New York pine barrens, and the demography of the invasion of spotted knapweed, Centaurea stoebe, on Long Island and in the Adirondack Mountains of northern New York State.
In addition to carrying out scientific studies, I have co-authored and co-edited several books, including Design and Analysis of Ecological Experiments (Scheiner and Gurevitch 1993, Chapman and Hall; 2nd ed. 2001, Oxford University Press), The Ecology of Plants (Gurevitch, Scheiner and Fox, Sinauer Assoc. 2002, 2nd ed. 2006) and Handbook of Meta-analysis in Ecology and Evolution (2013, Koricheva, Gurevitch and Mengersen, Princeton University Press). In addition, I co-authored an early software package for meta-analysis in ecology (MetaWin 2.0, Rosenberg, Adams and Gurevitch, publ. Sinauer Assoc.) as well as a recent open-access package, OpenMEE (2013 with several collaborators).
Brenna M. Henn, Assistant Professor (CV)
Ph.D. Stanford University, 2009
Human evolution, population genetics, genomics
LS640, (631)632-8600
Henn Lab Website
Research Summary:
My research lab investigates patterns of human genetic diversity and evolution by pairing genomic datasets with information about phenotype, language and prehistory. I am committed to understanding genetic diversity in under-represented populations and hypothesize that the determinants of phenotypic traits and disease in these populations may be influenced by alleles that are population-specific or generally rare. I am broadly interested in refining models of human migration and understanding the adaptive significance of healthy phenotypes such as life history traits, pigmentation and disease resistance. We are particularly focused on the complex demographic history of African populations. In collaboration with African geneticists, we currently work with Khoe-San populations at several field sites in the Kalahari Desert and Richtersveld to collect DNA samples, ethnographic data and basic phenotypes like skin pigmentation and height. By leveraging reduced environmental variability in these populations, low linkage disequilbrium and historic endogamy, we can jointly address questions regarding the genetic basis for different phenotypes and their evolutionary history. Are there loci of large effect for height and skin pigmentation? Are estimates of heritability for these phenotypes similar or different to estimates from cosmopolitan populations? Was the ancestral population of humans of short stature or tall? I have an interdisciplinary research background obtained during my Ph.D. in anthropology and as a postdoctoral fellow in human genetics, both at Stanford University, as well as industry experience in 'personal genomics'.
Jesse D. Hollister, Assistant Professor (CV)
Ph.D., University of California, Irvine 2009
Plant evolutionary genomics and epigenetics
LS620, (631)632-1243
Hollister Lab Website
Research Summary:
My lab investigates the genetics underlying evolutionary transitions in flowering plants. Plants display rich variation in genome structure, gene copy number, sexual system, and ploidy. Because of this, plant species represent a rich set of natural evolutionary experiments that we can analyze in the laboratory and the field. We employ next generation sequencing, statistical modeling and computational methods to analyze large genomic and gene expression datasets from both model and non-model organisms. Using these methods, we aim to answer longstanding evolutionary questions. Please visit my website and/or contact me for details.
Jeffrey S. Levinton, Distinguished Professor (CV)
Ph.D., Yale University, 1971
Conservation biology, developmental evolution
LS680, (631)632-8602
Levinton Lab Website
Research Summary:
Jeffrey Levinton has done research on a wide variety of topics, all in the general area of marine ecology. His major interest is in relating feeding biology of marine bottom animals to population and community-level processes. Currently, he is working on feeding selectivity in suspension-feeding bivalves using flow cytometry and video endoscopy. In the last few years, he has also worked on the evolution of resistance to toxic substances and physiological adaptation of growth strategies to temperature regimes. Levinton has also done research on rate of evolution in the fossil record and maintains a strong interest in paleobiology. In collaboration with Gregory Wray, he is working on estimating the timing of the divergence of the animal phyla and has developed evidence against the Cambrian explosion hypothesis. He is currently doing simulations to understand the degree to which molecular data can confirm the notion of a Cambrian explosion. He is also working currently on the role of sexual selection and natural selection in the morphological evolution of fiddler crabs, and their relationship to phylogeny based on molecular data. His students have worked on related research topics, but also on grazing in coral reefs, chemical defense, and rocky shore ecology.
Levinton was a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fulbright Senior Scholar and is the author of a major text in marine biology and a monograph on macroevolution. He has served as an editor for The American Naturalist, Ecology, Ecological Applications, and was head of the Hudson River Fund Panel of the Hudson River Foundation. He is now an editorial advisor for Global Ecology and for the Journal of the Marine Biological Association.
Heather J. Lynch, Assistant Professor (CV)
Ph.D., Harvard University, 2006
Development and application of statistics
LS113, (631)632-9508
Lynch Lab Website
Research Summary:
Dr. Lynch received her A.B. in physics from Princeton University in 2000, graduating summa cum laude and receiving the American Physical Society's LeRoy Apker Award for the best undergraduate physics thesis in the US. She continued her physics training at Harvard University, but after receiving her M.A. in Physics, decided to transfer into the Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Department to pursue her interest in statistical ecology. Under the advising of Dr. Paul Moorcroft, Dr. Lynch received her PhD in 2006 for her thesis "Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Insect-Fire Interactions". As a post-doctoral research associate, and then assistant research scientist, in Dr. William Fagan's lab at the University of Maryland, Dr. Lynch applied her expertise in the statistical analysis of complex ecological datasets to a range of problems including patterns of survivorship in mammals, biodiversity patterns in dendritic ecological networks, and the effect of reproductive asynchrony in defining the geographic range of the bagworm.
Dr. Lynch's research focuses on the development and application of statistics and mathematics to conservation biology. Her current research revolves around a large-scale vessel-based breeding bird survey program called the Antarctic Site Inventory, a project she manages in partnership with the non-profit research organization Oceanites. Her work to understand the complex spatiotemporal dynamics of Antarctic penguins, in particular their response to climate change on the Antarctic Peninsula, will bring a multitude of exciting opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students in the department. We are very excited about the strength in statistics and mathematics and added breadth in conservation biology that Dr. Lynch will bring to our department and anticipate that she will also strengthen connections between our group and others on campus.
Ross H. Nehm, Associate Professor (CV)
Ph.D., University of California-Berkeley, 1998
Science education, evolution education, cognition
LS672, (631)632-7247
Nehm Lab Website
Research Summary:
The Nehm Lab studies science learning, with a focus on biological concepts such as natural selection and evolution. We explore novice and expert reasoning strategies, the psychometric evaluation of measurement instruments, science teacher learning and belief revision, the conceptual restructuring of folk-biological knowledge, and the comparative efficacy of educational innovations. Recently, the lab has collaborated with computer scientists to build machine-learning models for the automated analysis of complex scientific practices (such as evolutionary explanations). The lab has been supported by the National Science Foundation's EAR, CCLI, TUES, CAREER and REESE programs.
Dr. Nehm is associate director of the Ph.D. Program in Science Education at Stony Brook. Dr. Nehm's major awards include a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, a teaching award from Berkeley, and a mentoring award from CUNY. In 2013-14 Dr. Nehm was named an Education Mentor in the Life Sciences by the U.S. National Academies. Dr. Nehm currently serves as Associate Editor for the journal Evolution Education and Outreach, Associate Editor for the journal Science & Education, Monitoring Editor for CBE-Life Sciences Education, and board member of several other journals. He also serves on the research advisory boards of several national science education projects, and has served as Panel Chair for several NSF programs.
Dianna K. Padilla, Professor (CV)
Ph.D., University of Alberta, 1987
Aquatic ecology, applied ecology, conservation biology
LS618, (631)632-7434
Padilla Lab Website
Research Summary:
Dianna Padilla's major interests are (1) phenotypic plasticity, its relationship to morphology, and its significance in evolution; (2) plant herbivore functional ecology, especially the evolution of structural defenses of plants and the role of mode of feeding and morphological adaptations of herbivores, and (3) the patterns of spread and impacts of invading species in aquatic ecosystems. Her current research focuses on phenotypic plasticity of the marine snail family Littorinidae and ranges from determining the evolution of form and function of the radular feeding apparatus to studies of the phenotypic variation and function of littorinid radulae when snails are subjected to different foods or environments. She is also actively engaged in studies on the invasion of zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) and other aquatic invaders. These studies include examining factors that influence the patterns of spread of invading species, particularly the movements of humans and the ecological impacts of invading aquatic species on both benthic species (gastropods) and the planktonic community and food web. She is also conducting collaborative work with scientists from the Former Soviet Union who have studied the Eastern European invasion of zebra mussels for more than 20 years. They are testing predictive models of the spread and ecological impacts of zebra mussels as well as summarizing decades of research that have not been previously available to non-Russian scientists.
Joshua Rest, Associate Professor (CV)
Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2004
Genome evolution
LS676, (631)632-1916
Rest Lab Website
Research Summary:
Fitness Landscapes of Gene Expression
Related publications: Nonlinear fitness consequences of variation in expression level of a eukaryotic gene, Contribution of transcription factor binding site motif variants to condition-specific gene expression patterns in budding yeast.
We are measuring the extent that changes in the expression of genes result in changes in the fitness (reproductive capacity) of cells. We alter the expression level of a given gene using a repressible promoter, and measure the resulting fitness by competing the cells with altered expression against cells with normal expression. The result is an expression-fitness curve that indicates the precise relationship between expression level and fitness. The fitness curve for a gene predicts the amount of variation in expression among individuals in a population, where flatter functions are expected to show more variation.
We have completed measurement of the expression-fitness function for a gene, LCB2, that is essential for the production of sphingolipids in the cell. We are now using next-generation sequencing technology to scale up this analysis for a larger number of genes.
Variation in the Carbon Metabolic Network
Related publication: Coevolution trumps pleiotropy: Carbon assimilation traits are independent of metabolic network structure in budding yeast.
A goal in molecular evolution is to understand how evolution acts to integrate selective pressures from diverse and changing environmental parameters in light of constraints imposed by cellular architecture. We are taking advantage of the tremendous diversity for carbon utilization within the species Saccharomyces cerevisiae and S. paradoxus to investigate this. We are studying how sets of metabolic traits co-evolve, and what the effect of sharing of pathways of cellular systems among traits is on their co-evolution. We are taking advantage of natural variation in the number of carbon utilization traits to study whether the complexity of molecular pathways alters the effect of mutational input through canalization or mutational robustness.
Protein Interaction Stability, Degree, and Authenticity
We are investigating model-based integration among various types of protein-protein interaction data with the goal of robust inference of the degree, stability, and reality of individual interactions.
Phylogenetics and Horizontal Gene Transfer
Related publications: Massive mitochondrial gene transfer in a parasitic flowering plant clade, Horizontal transfer of expressed genes in a parasitic flowering plant, Sulfate activation enzymes: phylogeny and association with pyrophosphatase, Strong mitochondrial DNA support for a Cretaceous origin of modern avian lineages, and others listed here.
We use phylogenetic methods to detect horizontal gene transfer, to reconstruct ancestral protein and regulatory sequences, and to test biological hypotheses. We are particularly interested in statistical methods to reject or accept alternative biological hypotheses.
Interfering Interactions as a Driver of Regulatory Architecture
We are examining the extent that modularity is driven by avoidance of gain-of-function mutations, including avoidance of deleterious pairwise interactions. We artificially turn genes on at the same time to see if there is an epistatic cost for co-expression.
Robert W. Thacker, Professor and Chair (CV)
Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1995
Systematics, phylogenetics, and ecology
LS114, (631)632-8590
Thacker Lab Website
Research Summary:
Research in Dr. Thacker’s laboratory focuses on taxonomy, systematics, and the evolution of ecological interactions. Recent projects have used sponges and their symbiotic microbial communities as model systems to study coevolution among hosts and symbionts, the evolution of community structure, and the evolution of mutualistic interactions. Dr. Thacker’s research group integrates morphological and molecular approaches to systematics across the immense biodiversity represented by the four classes of sponges through the Porifera Tree of Life (PorToL) project, which is constructing a definitive phylogeny of sponges. Two additional projects build on PorToL by developing bioinformatic tools that can be applied to all taxonomic groups; these collaborative projects include investigators and students at multiple universities and software development companies. Arbor is a novel software package for comparative evolutionary analyses. This software is designed to place tree-thinking tools into the hands of scientists across multiple disciplines, enabling rapid advances in integrative and comparative biology at multiple phylogenetic, spatial, and temporal scales. Next-Generation Phenomics for the Tree of Life combines text mining, image analysis, and machine learning software to automate phenotypic character discovery and scoring from publications and images.
John R. True, Associate Professor (CV)
Ph.D., Duke University, 1995
Genetics of species differences, speciation
LS114, (631)632-8600
True Lab Website
Research Summary:
My lab group is interested in the genetic and developmental basis of differences among closely related species and how natural and sexual selection bring these differences about. Our work centers on Drosophila melanin patterning as a genetic and developmental model system.
The laboratory is currently studying the evolutionary genetics of melanin patterning and male courtship behavior in the Oriental melanogaster species group. Several lineages in this species group exhibit male specific wing spots (Fig. 1). A recent phylogenetic analysis (Fig. 2) indicates that multiple gains or losses of male wing spots have occurred during the Oriental species group radiation. Intriguingly, species with the male wing spots also exhibit a striking wing display during male courtship. [To view a video of courtship in Drosophila elegans, in which much of our current work is focused, go movie page] D. elegans males also appear to use this display in male-male aggressive interactions [movie page]. Species that do not have male wing spots do not exhibit this behavior. We are currently surveying male courtship behavior throughout the Oriental melanogaster species group in order to understand how this novel behavior has evolved. For example, we would like to know whether the use of the male wing display in courtship evolved before or after its use in male-male interaction and whether specific elements in male courtship, such as circling the female, were prerequisites for evolution of the male wing display.
We are also studying the molecular genetic basis for naturally occurring melanism in D. elegans (Fig. 3). Populations of D. elegans from the northern part of its range (Taiwan, Japan) are dark black in color whereas southern populations (China, SE Asia, Indonesia) are light tan in color. This morph difference is controlled by a single, semidominant, autosomal Mendelian factor. We are in the process of fine-scale mapping of this locus with the ultimate aim of characterizing it at the molecular level. Melanic polymorphisms like this one in D. elegans are extremely common and insects but in no case has such a polymorphism been identified at the molecular level. Identifying the gene responsible for melanism in D. elegans will provide a crucial model for a general understanding of insect melanism at the developmental, genetic, and ecological levels.
Krishna R. Veeramah, Assistant Professor (CV)
Ph.D., University College London, 2008
Primate Comparative Genomics, Genetic Basis of Epilepsy
LS616, (631)632-1101
Veeramah Lab Website
Research Summary:
Krishna Veeramah is a primate genomicist and population geneticist, who received both his B.Sc. in 2003, and Ph.D. in 2008 from University College London. His Ph.D., conducted under the supervision of Mark Thomas, examined the distribution of genetic variation in Africans. He then moved to UCLA as part of John Novembre’s lab where he looked at the genetic architecture of European population isolates. In 2010 he joined Michael Hammer’s lab at the University of Arizona in order to lead a project comparing patterns of genomic variation on the autosomes and X chromosome in apes. At Stony Brook his research will be focused on using genomic-scale data to understand the evolutionary genetics of human and non-human primates and conducting geographically fine-scale studies of human genetic variation in sub-Saharan Africa. He is also involved in projects examining ancient DNA from Migration Period Europe and the genetic basis of epilepsy.
Non-E&E Department Faculty Associated with the Graduate Program
Jackie Collier, Associate Professor (LAB)
Ph.D., Stanford University, 1994
Microbial ecology
School of Marine & Atmospheric Sci.
David O. Conover, Professor
Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, 1982
Adaptation and natural selection of life-history traits
School of Marine & Atmospheric Sci.
John Fleagle, Distinguished Professor
Ph.D., Harvard University, 1976
Department of Anatomical Sciences
Charlie Janson, Professor
Ph.D., University of Washington, 1985
Primate ecology and behavior, evolution of seed dispersal
Division of Biological Sciences,
University of Montana
Andreas Koenig, Professor
Ph.D., Georg-AugustUniversity, 1992
Primate behavioral ecology, social evolution
Department of Anthropology
Manuel Lerdau, Professor
Ph.D., Stanford University, 1994
Physiological ecology of metals, biological mechanisms
Environmental Sciences and Biology,
University of Virginia
Sasha F. Levy, Assistant Professor (LAB) (CV)
Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara, 2005
Physical and quantitative biology
Biochemistry & Cell Biology,
Stony Brook University
Glenn R. Lopez, Professor
Ph.D., Stony Brook University, 1976
Marine ecology
School of Marine & Atmospheric Sci.
David Q. Matus, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Hawaii, 2006
Cell, developmental and evolutionary cell invasion
Dept. of Biochemistry & Cell Biology
Stephen B. Munch, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Stony Brook Univeristy, 2002
Life history evolution
School of Marine & Atmospheric Sci.
Janet Nye, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Maryland, 2008
Fish ecology, climate variability, global env. change
School of Marine & Atmospheric Sci.
Alistair Rogers, Scientist
Ph.D., University of Essex, 1998
Plant physiology, climate change
Environmental Sciences Department,
Brookhaven National Laboratory
Shawn P. Serbin, Assistant Ecologist
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2008
Forest ecology, plant physiology, ecosystem science
Biological, Environmental & Climate Sci,
Brookhaven National Laboratory
Randall Susman, Professor
Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1976
Functional morphology, human evolution
Department of Anatomical Sciences
Lesley Thorne, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Duke University, 2010
Bio-physical and trophic interactions in marine ecology
School of Marine & Atmospheric Sci.
Patricia Wright, Professor
Ph.D., City University of New York, 1985
Conservation, primatology
Department of Anthropology
Associated Research Faculty
Frank J. Turano, Research Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Stony Brook University, 1994

LS035, (631) 632-8600

Research Summary:
Because of its confined physical limits and geographical position, Long Island is a test laboratory for many environmental issues that will face other areas of the country in the future. My primary research is concerned with compiling and understanding the Pre- and Post-European Contact Environmental History of Long Island. These studies utilize written cultural records as well as maps, art, graphics, photography, and oral history. This understanding is used to explore alternatives for contemporary environmental issues and produce documentary films.
Fredric V. Vencl, Research Associate Professor (CV)
Ph.D., Stony Brook University, 1977

LS650, (631) 632-8609

Research Summary:
Two puzzles have long fascinated me: why are there so many species, especially of beetles, and has the evolution of novel traits, or suites of traits fostered the remarkable beetle diversification. I integrate phylogenetics, behavior, morphology, and chemistry with field experimentation to investigate the evolutionary ecology of firefly and leaf beetle defenses.
I investigate several questions that explore macro-evolutionary processes and patterns: (1) how novel traits ('key innovations') impact diversification rates; (2) what factors promote the recurrent evolution of ecological specialization; (3) whether and how sexual selection fosters speciation, and; (4) whether rates and quantitative patterns of behavioral, morphological, and chemical change during lineage diversification indicate escalation, or other directional trends in evolution.
My current work concerns quantification of the importance of proximate host choice behavior governing oviposition preferences of leaf-feeding beetles. I have tried to measure the impact on progeny survival of a female's oviposition choices of host leaves that vary in requisite chemical defense precursors necessary for her progeny's survival against predators. Other projects examine whether chemically-mediated, co-evolutionary interactions between hosts, host defensive chemistry, and predators have predictably guided herbivore dietary evolution. The relationship between allometric size variation in male secondary sexual traits, and mechanisms of female trait preference in fireflies is an ongoing subject of both field and laboratory study. With colleagues, I am currently investigating whether chemical exudates released by fireflies provide protection against nocturnal enemies such as bats, ants, and toads.
I also make contributions to the natural history, taxonomy, and systematics of fireflies (Lampyridae) and of leaf beetles (Criocerinae: Chrysomelidae).
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