School of
Integrative Biology
AAP SRF banner has students researching via pipette, fish tank, doing field work in a river

Faculty Mentors

Lisa Ainsworth

Lisa Ainsworth

Our research aims to identify key mechanisms by which plants respond to specific elements of climate change, and use those to maximize crop production in the future.


Brian Allan

Brian Allan

I am broadly interested in the ecology of infectious diseases and particularly diseases that are transmitted to humans from wildlife through infected arthropods (e.g., ticks and mosquitoes). I am also interested in the consequences of human-mediated global change on the risk of exposure to these parasites and pathogens.


Marianne Alleyne

Marianne Alleyne

I study the physiological factors that determine host range of pathogens and parasites that attack insects. My main focus has been on the metabolic system and the immune response of lepidopteran (butterflies and moths) hosts after parasitization by hymenopteran parasitoids.


Philip Anderson

Philip Anderson

In my research program I synthesize biomechanical, paleontological and evolutionary methods to answer broad, macroevolutionary questions regarding biodiversity and morphological evolution. The form-function relationship is central to understanding the diversity of life on Earth. How an animal’s phenotype (structure, morphology, physiology) interacts with its environment is a key component of evolutionary theory and is vital to understanding both microevolutionary concepts, such as adaptation, and macroevolutionary concepts, such as cladogenesis and biodiversity.


Alison Bell

Alison Bell

Research in the Bell lab is focused on understanding why individual animals behave differently from each other. In other words, why do individuals of the same species have different personalities? We study the proximate mechanisms underlying personality and the ultimate (evolutionary) consequences of personality using threespined stickleback fish (mostly) as a model system.


Carla Cáceres

Carla Caceres

We focus on questions at the interface of population, community and evolutionary ecology. At its core, our research focuses on how biodiversity arises, how is it maintained, and what is its functional significance from the scale of organismal traits to ecosystems. To accomplish this, we study the organisms that inhabit lakes and experimental ponds all across the US. Our lab focuses on three related areas of inquiry:

  1. How do ecological and evolutionary processes interact to shape life-history variation?
  2. How do feedbacks between genetic and species diversity influence metacommunity dynamics?
  3. How do ecological and evolutionary processes interact to shape the distribution and abundance of disease

Stephen R. Downie

Stephen R. Downie My research focuses on the systematics of the plant family Apiaceae and the detection and characterization of the distribution of major structural rearrangements of the chloroplast genomes of flowering plants. The Apiaceae group contains many edible (e.g., carrot, parsnip, dill, celery, parsley, cumin, anise), medicinal, or highly toxic (e.g., poison-hemlock, water-hemlock) members and presents a rich source of evolutionary and taxonomic problems.


Becky Fuller

Becky Fuller

We are broadly interested in ecology and evolution as it applies to fishes. My students and I try to capitalize upon this variation to ask questions about:

  1. how natural and sexual selection vary over time and space,
  2. the extent to which variation among/within populations is attributable to genetic variation, phenotypic plasticity, and their interaction, and
  3. how variation in lighting environments and visual systems alters selection on coloration


Alexandra Harmon-Threatt

Alex Harmon-Threatt

As a lab we are generally interested in investigating pollination ecology questions that have implications for conservation and restoration. Specifically, how does habitat alteration affect bee community diversity, how does fire affect flowering times of plant species, and how does pollination affect persistence of plant communities.


Mark Hauber

Mark Hauber

Research in the Hauber lab focuses on the cognitive basis of avian social recognition: what are the behavioral, perceptual, neural, and genetic processes that allow birds to recognize friends from foes. Focusing on avian brood parasites (birds that lay their eggs into others' nests) and their hosts (the foster parents), we aim to learn about what goes outside and inside the minds and brains of robins, cowbirds, and other local Illinois birds. For more information, please visit: www.cowbirdlab.org


Katy Heath

Katy Heath

The Heath lab answers a variety of exciting evolutionary and ecological questions, mostly by applying genetic and genomic techniques in natural populations of plants, fungi, and bacteria. We study how mutualisms coevolve and remain mutually-beneficial over time and space, try to find out where plants were hiding during the last glacial cycle, ask how communities of decomposing fungi get together and rot wood that floats in streams, and ponder how plants cope with interacting with multiple root symbionts (bacteria & fungi) all at the same time. We work in the molecular lab, in the field, and in the greenhouse to answer these questions.


Esther Ngumbi

Esther Ngumbi

I am interested in understanding the multifaceted uses of chemical signals (both volatile and non-volatile) by herbivores, natural enemies, plants and their associated microorganisms and insects. Moreover, my research on beneficial soil microbes seeks to find microbial-based solutions for improving crop production, alleviating drought stress in crop plants and sustainable pest management.


James O'Dwyer

James O'Dwyer

The O’Dwyer lab's focus is in ecological theory and complex systems, applied to a variety of taxonomic groups. We are interested in what kinds of theoretical models can explain patterns and phenomena in ecological communities, and in how to infer and validate these models with imperfect data. These data range from time series data, where species abundances are measured on relatively short, intragenerational timescales, to phylogenetic trees, where we use the deep evolutionary history of a group of organisms to infer processes, to spatially-explicit data at a snapshot in time. We are primarily a `dry’ lab, meaning that the tools we use are mostly computers, pencil and paper, and coffee.


Ken Paige

Ken Paige

Current research centers on 1) the ecology and evolutionary biology of species interactions with an emphasis on overcompensation (enhanced fitness following herbivory). 2) conservation genetics, focusing on the ecological and evolutionary consequences of small population size. 3) phylogeographic analyses with a focus on understanding how organisms have responded to anthropogenic, geologic and climatic history and 4) the role of somatic mutation and chromosome amplification in allowing an individual plant to evolve and adapt to environmental challenges.


Andy Suarez

Andy Suarez

In the Suarez lab, we use ants as model organisms to address a variety of questions in ecology and behavior. Some of current projects include examining trade-offs in investment into worker size versus number, the evolution of queen fertility signals, and the biomechanics of force production in "trap-jaw" ants.


Wendy Yang

Wendy Yang

We are broadly interested in how human activities are changing how natural and managed ecosystems function and how ecosystem responses to global change can feedback to drive or slow future global change. Our research is in terrestrial biogeochemistry and ecosystem ecology with a focus on determining process rates and drivers of chemical transformations in the environment.