Lab Members

  • Associate Professor, Biology
    Director, Environmental Science Program
    B.A. Biology, Colgate University (minor in Philosophy)
    Ph.D. Evolutionary Biology, University of Notre Dame
    (319) 335-3006

    My research interests revolve around the central question: why are insects so astoundingly diverse?  There are more species of insect on Earth than any other type of animal, and as strange as it is to say, we still don't have any good consensus as to how many insect species there actually are. Insects, particularly parasitic wasps, are small, often mophologically cryptic, and poorly studied compared with other animal taxa. I study the evolution, ecology, behavior, and taxonomy of many different insect species, with an eye to understanding the patterns and processes underlying their diversity.

  • PhD Candidate
    B.S. Biology, University of Iowa (minor in Dance)
    M.S. Biology, University of Iowa

    My projects focus broadly on how ecological interactions between species can drive the evolution of reproductive isolation and speciation. I study interactions between the specialist Sunflower Maggot Fly (genus Strauzia) and their host plant species (genus Helianthus and other Asteraceae). My primary project aims to evaluate the relative contributions of pre- and post-zygotic reproductive barriers to reproductive isolation between recently diverged lineages of Strauzia. This project carries the larger purpose of understanding patterns of ecological speciation across a continuum of divergence. In addition, I am working on several other projects that include completing a phylogeny of the genus Strauzia, measuring patterns of host plant use, and evaluating the evolutionary impacts of morphological differences between Strauzia species.

  • PhD Candidate
    B.A. Biology, Albion College

    Anna is interested in the evolutionary histories of various parasitoids, inquilines, and other associates of cynipid gall wasps found on North American oak trees. She has collected tens of thousands of insects from across the continental United States and is using a variety of molecular and ecological methods to understand their histories. The inquiline genera Synergus and Ceroptres are of particular interest.

  • Wren Renquist
    MS Student
    BS, University of Iowa

    Wren is studying the natural history and population generics of the Iva Flower Moth (Schinia gracilenta). This moth is a specialist on supweed (Iva annua), one of the "lost crops" historically cultivated by Indigenous Americans. Wren is interested in determining whether the genomes of these moths contain signatures of sumpweed's history of cultivation and subsequent human-mediated spread across the continent.

  • MS Student
    B.A., Environmental Sciences, University of Iowa

    Sarah's MS research investigates genetic variation and species interactions among woodland fungi, and in particular the genus Stereum. One of her major goals is to generate the first global phylogeny of Stereum. She hopes that this will then allow her to understand patterns and processes leading to speciation in this diverse fungal clade.