Category: Current Research

Biodiversity and Floristics

Taxonomy and Systematics of Ferns and Lycophytes

We are interested in what the species of ferns and lycophytes are and where they occur—something often poorly known for tropical species—and the evolutionary relationships among the species. We generate phylogenetic trees based on DNA sequences that show how the species are related and use the trees as a framework for answering questions about character evolution, biogeography, and evolutionary processes.

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Biodiversity and Floristics

Evolution and Development of Leaves

The evolution of leaves changed life on Earth. We study the expression and phylogeny of leaf development genes in lycophytes and ferns to better understand the evolution and development of leaves in the land plants.

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Biodiversity and Floristics

Plant Diversity & Evolution in Madagascar

Madagascar is one of the world’s hottest biodiversity hotspots, home to an incredibly diverse and endemic flora. Much of my research is focused here, where I am interested in understanding the evolution of plant diversity in the ecological and geographic context. My work uses phylogenomic tools to elucidate rapid radiations in the myrrh genus, Commiphora (Burseraceae) and more broadly in endemic lineages from the sunflower family (Asteraceae). These lineages are also characterized by disjunct distributions in South America and I’m interested in comparing diversification strategies in dry and seasonally dry tropical forests found here.

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Biodiversity and Floristics

Plant Discovery in the Southern Philippines

The Philippines archipelago contains unique floral and faunal diversity that is critically threatened by habitat loss, with only 3-7% of original habitat remaining. To address the urgent need for further documenting this diversity in the face of impending large-scale species extinction, I am working with colleagues from the U.S. and the Philippines on a four-year project to document the land plants and lichens of the southern Philippines through a series of large field expeditions and subsequent taxonomic study. T

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Biodiversity and Floristics

Ericales Program Overview

The plant order Ericales contains ca. 8000 species of flowering plants distributed in 22 families. The order contains a number of economically important edible plants, including tea (Camellia sinensis), kiwi (Actinidia), persimmon (Diospyros), Brazil nut (Bertholettia excelsa), star-apple (Chrysophyllum cainito), and blueberries and cranberries (Vaccinium), as well as popular ornamental plants such as azaleas and rhododendrons (Rhododendron), primroses (Primula), Impatiens, Erica, Phlox, and Camellia.

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Biodiversity and Floristics

The Global Genome Initiative for Gardens (GGI-Gardens)

Natural history collections play an increasingly vital role in biodiversity studies. Much of the research that leverages these collections combines this accumulated diversity knowledge with genomic approaches. There is a movement toward improved collection practices that incorporate resources that can be used in genomics research.

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