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Stephen R Downie

Profile picture for Stephen R Downie

Contact Information

2090 Lincoln Hall
702 S Wright St
Urbana, IL 61801-3631


Research Description

Systematics and evolution of flowering plants, with emphasis on the family Apiaceae

The relationships among and within many families of flowering plants remain unclear. Reconstruction of phylogenies from molecular data is now routine in systematics and continues to provide valuable insight into evolutionary patterns and processes, and historical biogeography. We are using the record of molecular change contained within the chloroplast and nuclear genomes of plants, as well as morphological and fruit anatomical evidence, to trace evolutionary histories and elucidate patterns of phenotypic character evolution in the Apiaceae (or Umbelliferae, the carrot, celery or parsley family), a cosmopolitan group of ecological, economical, and pharmaceutical importance. Current research is focused on the perennial, endemic umbellifers of western North America, such as Cymopterus and Lomatium, with the goals of clarifying generic- and species-level boundaries, reconstructing a robust phylogeny, and producing a modern classification. Ongoing research on the phylogeny and biogeography of Apiaceae, using techniques ranging from herbarium-based studies to phylogenomic analyses, is international in scope, with extensive collaborations the world over.


B.Sc., 1982, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Ph.D., 1988, University of Alberta, Canada
Postdoctoral positions: University of Michigan and Indiana University

Additional Campus Affiliations

Associate Dean for Curricula & Academic Policy, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Professor, Plant Biology

Recent Publications

Zhou, J., Wang, X., Zhou, S., Niu, J., Yue, J., Liu, Z., & Downie, S. R. (2024). Circumscription of the East Asia clade (Apiaceae subfamily Apioideae) and the taxonomic placements of several problematic genera. Plant Diversity, 46(2), 206-218.

Dix, A., Jones, E., Neads, C. A., Davies, V., Cowgill, R., Armstrong, C., Ridgewell, R., Twidale, M., Downie, S., Reagan, M., & Bashford, C. (2022). Tools and technology to support rich community heritage. Paper presented at 35th British HCI Conference Towards a Human-Centred Digital Society, HCI 2022, Keele, Staffordshire, United Kingdom.

Liao, C. Y., Gao, Q., Katz-Downie, D. S., & Downie, S. R. (2022). A systematic study of North American Angelica species (Apiaceae) based on nrDNA ITS and cpDNA sequences and fruit morphology. Journal of Systematics and Evolution, 60(4), 789-808.

Mousavi, S. S., Mozaffarian, V., Mummenhoff, K., Downie, S. R., & Zarre, S. (2022). Systematics of the Iranian genera Aphanopleura, Demavendia, Haussknechtia, Psammogeton, and Zeravschania (Apiaceae tribe Pimpinelleae). Plant Systematics and Evolution, 308(1), Article 2.

Yang, C., Yao, X. Y., Chen, Z. X., Downie, S. R., & Wang, Q. Z. (2022). The chloroplast genomes of Sanicula (Apiaceae): plastome structure, comparative analyses and phylogenetic relationships. Nordic Journal of Botany, 2022(8), Article e03549.

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