ABOUT US

We are interested in the evolution of morphological diversity in organisms. We focus on reproductive organs in plants because these structures encompass an incredible array of diversity whose specific forms reflect a wide variety of evolutionary processes. We combine insights and techniques from several disciplines, including paleobotany, biomechanics, functional morphology, phylogenetics, and macroecology in order to characterize evolutionary patterns in plant reproductive structures and understand the processes that give rise to them. We often focus on relationships between form and function, and ask how the functions that reproductive structures perform may constrain the evolution of morphology in some cases, while leading to morphological diversification in others. Integrating data from living species with paleobotanical information is also a major focus of work in the lab, because the fossil record provides a unique deep-time perspective on patterns of character evolution and changes in morphological diversity. Current work in the lab includes a number of projects relating to these broader themes, including descriptions of new fossil species, anatomical studies of reproductive structure development, applying quantitative models of character evolution to molecular phylogenies, analyses of reproductive complexity in vascular plants through time, and understanding the phylogenetic and geographic structure of extant conifer biodiversity. 

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