2017 Mentor Projects
The Wickett lab invites interested undergraduates to apply for an REU in computational bioinformatics and phylogenomics. We are currently investigating the nearly 200 million year history of diatoms, a fascinating group of unicellular organisms that number between 100-200,000 species, and account for around 1/5th of global photosynthesis.
The primary objectives of my master's thesis research are to compare the in situ and ex situ diversity of Quercus oglethorpensis (Oglethope oak) using neutral microsatellite markers, and to trial population management software (PMX) for applications in plant conservation, or more specifically, compare the effects of different ex situ...
The Dimensions of Biodiversity: Landscapes of Linalool grant broadly examines the role of floral scent in mediating pollinator and herbivore interactions and in driving the diversification of evening primroses at multiple evolutionary timescales.
Breadfruit is an important underutilized food crop introduced to the Caribbean in the late 1700s from Oceania.
Many members of the Hawaiian flora are classified as exceptional species, where living plant collections are the only currently available ex situ conservation option. For example, Brighamia insignis (Campanulaceae), an endemic Hawaiian succulent species, is functionally extinct in the wild with only one remaining extant individual.
There are several factor that may lead to a population’s extinction, one of these is inbreeding depression. Inbreeding depression is the reduction in fitness within a population as a result of inbreeding. This is a major issue in conservation because the negative effects of inbreeding depression affect all aspects of reproduction.
My research focuses on understanding invasion in restored tallgrass prairies, one of the most endangered ecosystems worldwide. I am part of a team working on a plot experiment at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL. Broadly, we are trying to understand how phylogenetic and functional diversity affect restoration outcomes in tallgrass prairies.
Plants can change their traits or behavior depending on the conditions they are exposed to, a phenomenon known as plasticity. Plasticity helps plants cope with heterogeneous or changing environments, and can determine the outcome of competitive interactions and ultimately the structure and diversity of plant communities.
Local adaptation is a well-documented phenomenon in plants, whereby populations evolve specialization to local environmental conditions, such as climate. The timing of life cycle events such as flowering and fruit set, also known as phenology, often displays local adaptation.
Parasitic plants form connections to neighboring plants that drain their neighbors of their nutrients. This interaction often stunts the growth of the host plants being parasitized. However, this interaction may have positive effects for the parasitized host in the form of changes to its’ pollinator and herbivore interactions.
Rapid anthropogenic climate change is currently causing range shifts and changes in phenology for many species. Many plant populations have been shown to be adapted to local environmental conditions. Restoration managers have hence primarily sourced their seed from local areas relative to the restoration site.
Understanding how population dynamics function to define species geographic ranges is crucial to our understanding of species range limits and how populations can be expected to respond to large scale climate change.
Oenothera organensis is a rare evening primrose, found only in the Organ Mountains of New Mexico. The Chicago Botanic Garden obtained plants from a greenhouse collection at Indiana University of Oe. organensis descended from individuals collected in the wild in 1938, as well as plants collected last year from the wild. Oe.
Different floral traits-- the color, shape, and scent of flowers-- can attract different groups of pollinators to flowers of a particular species. For many flowering plants, pollinators are primarily responsible for moving the genes of plants (via pollen) between different individuals, and among populations.