The following Biology 200/500 mentors conduct research pertaining to the study and conservation of biodiversity:

Rebecca Bart, PhD

Assistant Member of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Adjunct Professor of Biology in the College of Arts & Sciences

When plant disease occurs, it can be devastating to farmers and consumers. Pesticides are often employed in an attempt to limit spread, further adding to the total cost of disease. The Bart lab focuses on exploring natural genetic diversity and exploiting identified phenotypic traits for sustainable crop improvement and seeks to apply modern molecular biology tools to genetically intractable organisms.

Eli Baskir, MS

Behavioral Research Associate at the Saint Louis Zoo

The Behavior Lab at the Saint Louis Zoo studies animal behavior in a variety of species and contexts. Eli Baskir focuses on social and reproductive behaviors, as well as animal interactions with enrichment, exhibit use, and activity level, to answer both research and management questions. The Behavior Lab works closely with the Zoo’s Endocrine Lab to correlate live or video-recorded observations with hormone measures.

Yehuda Ben-Shahar, PhD

Associate Professor of Biology in the College of Arts & Sciences

We study the evolutionary, genetic, molecular, cellular, and behavioral mechanisms underlying the interaction of animals with their physical and social environments. We use the powerful genetic model, Drosophila melanogaster, the European honey bee Apis mellifera, and mammalian models to ask where, when, and how the function of specific genes, cell types, and neuronal circuits affect behavioral plasticity and the behavioral response to specific environmental and social stimuli.

Stephen M. Beverley, PhD

Marvin A. Brennecke Professor and Head of Molecular Biology in the Washington University School of Medicine

The Beverley Laboratory focuses on the molecular genetics of protozoan parasites, including some of the most deadly pathogens known. Much of our work centers around the trypanosomatid protozoan Leishmania, a deep branching eukaryote with many fascinating differences from more ‘standard’ cells. Recently we have moved into the study of the role of endogenous protozoan viruses in virulence, in Leishmania as well as other parasites.

Arpita Bose, PhD

Assitant Professor of Biology in the College of Arts & Sciences

Our lab studies microbial metabolisms and their influence on biogeochemical cycling using an interdisciplinary approach. We apply the knowledge we gain to generate new ways of addressing issues such as the energy crisis, pollution, biofouling and sustainability.

Carlos A. Botero, PhD

Assistant Professor of Biology in the College of Arts & Sciences

My team and I are helping shed some light into the various ways in which environmental fluctuations can alter ecological and evolutionary processes. We’ve made exciting discoveries on species’ vulnerabilities to climate change, as well as on the evolution of avian brains, animal sociality, and sexual selection. My lab is also actively working on human cultural evolution, experimental evolution, and simulation/statistical techniques to distinguish process from pattern in evolutionary studies.

Alex Bradley, PhD

Assistant Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences in the College of Arts & Sciences

I am a biogeochemist interested the ways in which the evolution of life on Earth and the evolution of the Earth`s environment have affected one another over the course of Earth history. Our laboratory uses the tools of organic geochemistry to try to understand how organic structures synthesized by living organisms can be preserved over geological time spans, and record information about the organisms and ecosystems from which they derive. We also use light stable isotope geochemistry to try to understand characteristics regarding the biogeochemical cycling of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur.

Philip Budge, MD

Research Scientist in the Washington University School of Medicine

This laboratory is devoted to research on filarial nematode parasites that cause important diseases in animals and humans (lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis), mainly in the tropics. We are currently focused on research to support the Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis through applied field research, translational research to develop improved diagnostic tests and treatments, and basic research on the biology of filarial nematodes.

Bruce A. Carlson, PhD

Associate Professor of Biology in the College of Arts & Sciences

We use an integrative approach to study animal communication and the evolution of sensory processing, using weakly electric fishes as a model system. Our work is unique in its application of detailed neurophysiology within a comparative behavioral framework, and it has implications for our understanding of neural mechanisms for behavior as well as the evolution of behavioral diversity.

Thomas B. Croat, PhD

P.A. Schulze Curator of Botany and Researcher at the Missouri Botanical Garden, Honorary Adjunct Professor of Biology int the College of Arts & Sciences

My research interests involve the systematics, floristics and ecology of the family Araceae (philodendron family). Despite the great horticultural interest in the philodendron family and its importance as a major component of many tropical forests, the taxonomy of Araceae is extremely poorly known and the family still contains a high proportion of undescribed species. Thus, work at this stage consists primarily of recognizing and describing new species, writing descriptions and identification keys for tropical floras, and intensively studying certain groups. 

Gautam Dantas, PhD

Professor of Pathology and Immunology, Biomedical Engineering, and Molecular Microbiology in the Washington University School of Medicine

The Dantas Lab works at the interface of microbial genomics, ecology, synthetic biology, and systems biology, to understand, harness, and engineer the biochemical processing potential of microbial communities. We take a quantitative ecological perspective in our study of diverse microbial communities, with a focus on human associated microbiota and interconnected environmental habitats. Accordingly, one of our major goals is to understand and quantitatively predict the effects of anthropogenic interventions (e.g. antibiotics) on microbial community composition and function.

Sharon Deem, DVM, PhD, DACZM

Director of the Saint Louis Zoo Institute for Conservation Medicine

Sharon has conducted conservation and research projects in 30 countries around the world. A few of her research projects include a health-monitoring program for gorillas in central Africa, health assessments of sea turtles in Africa and the Americas, avian and tortoise studies in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and studying box turtle health and ecology in Saint Louis. Her interests in wildlife veterinary medicine focus on the spread of disease between domestic animals and wildlife and the health impact of environmental changes and human contact on wild species.

Andrea Eveland, PhD

Assistant Member and Principal Investigator at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Inflorescence architecture, e.g. the number, length and angle of branches and flowers, is a primary determinant of yield, regulating seed number and harvesting ability.  Cereal crops display a diverse array of architectures in their inflorescences, which are fundamentally derived from variations on a common, grass-specific morphology.  Research in the Eveland lab leverages this diversity among species, as well as that within a species resulting from natural variation or genetic perturbation (mutant alleles), to understand the gene networks controlling inflorescence development in grasses.

Peter C. Hoch, PhD

Researcher and Curator at the Missouri Botanical Garden, Adjunct Professor of Biology in the College of Arts & Sciences

I am interested in understanding plant evolution on a broad scale, why some species and genera are so successful (sometimes even invasive) and why other closely related taxa are rare or threatened. The plant family Onagraceae is my model system of choice—thanks to the efforts of my mentor Peter Raven and collaborators, we know a great deal about the taxonomy, morphology, anatomy, cytology, embryology, pollination biology, biogeography, molecular systematics, and other aspects of this family. We now are able to ask sophisticated questions about the evolution of the group.

Elizabeth A. Kellogg, PhD

Robert E. King Distinguished Investigator at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Adjunct Professor of Biology in the College of Arts & Sciences

We are fascinated by the elegant and diverse forms that plants can take, and we explore the biological basis of this diversity. For some of us, the exploration leads us to look below the surface at the machinery that controls plant shape and structure; this work has been variously described as evolutionary developmental genetics, or evo-devo. For others in the lab, the exploration leads us to investigate the variations on a single morphological theme by studying closely related plants in a single genus; these studies fall into the discipline of systematics.

Corinne Kozlowski, PhD

Endocrinologist at the Saint Louis Zoo

As the Zoo’s Endocrinologist, Dr. Kozlowski’s work focuses on the reproductive status and health of endangered species, both in zoos and in the wild. This is accomplished primarily through measures of gonadal and adrenal hormones in non-invasively collected samples. Corinne has validated hormone assays for more than 70 species and manages one of only three Endocrinology service labs in the country. Her research is driven by an interest in comparative aspects of physiology and behavior, with the goal of assisting in species conservation.

Jonathan Losos, PhD

William H. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Biology in the College of Arts & Sciences

The primary focus of the Losos Lab is on the behavioral and evolutionary ecology of lizards. Major questions concern how lizards interact with their environment and how lizard clades have diversified evolutionarily. Addressing such questions requires integration of behavioral, ecological, functional morphological, and phylogenetic studies. A major focus has been the evolutionary radiation of Caribbean Anolis lizards, but other lizard radiations are also being studied. A newly-developing line of research concerns whether and how species are adapting to urban environments.

Scott A. Mangan, PhD

Assistant Professor of Biology in the College of Arts & Science

​We are broadly interested in understanding the ecological forces that shape both below- and above-ground biotic communities. One major goal of our group is to understand the ecological and evolutionary importance of interactions between plants and their soil-borne symbionts. Soil communities are incredibly diverse, containing a suite of taxa (e.g. pathogenic and mutualistic fungi, bacteria, viruses) that significantly influence plant growth, survival, and distribution.

Jonathan A. Myers, PhD

Associate Professor of Biology in the College of Arts & Sciences

Our research focuses on patterns and causes of biodiversity at multiple scales, ranging from variation in the diversity of species’ traits to gradients in the assembly, diversity and dynamics of ecological communities across the planet. We explore theories to explain why changes in biodiversity through space and time emerge through the interplay of fundamental processes of community ecology (speciation, dispersal, ecological drift & niche selection). To untangle these processes, we combine field experiments, large-scale and long-term observational studies, ecological modeling, and synthesis of biodiversity data from a wide range of plant communities spanning temperate and tropical ecosystems.

Kenneth M. Olsen, PhD

Professor of Biology in the College of Arts & Sciences

My research focuses on the genetic basis of evolution in plants: how is the genetic variation that we find within a species shaped by natural selection, population history, and other evolutionary forces? One way that I look at this question is by using crop domestication as a model for rapid evolutionary change. The wealth of genetic and genomic information available for crops makes them useful for studying the molecular evolution of genes in response to selection and other forces. In my lab we also study the evolutionary genetics of wild plant species. Topics of interest include the genetic basis of adaptive variation, the forces affecting genome-wide patterns of linkage disequilibrium, and phylogeography.

Eleanor Pardini, PhD

Assistant Director, Research Scientist, and Lecturer in the Department of Environmental Studies in the College of Arts & Sciences

I am broadly interested in the effects of genetic and ecological processes on population dynamics of invasive and rare plants. My research addresses questions that lie at the interface of population ecology and population genetics. Studying invasive and rare plants allows me to examine basic principles of the interactions between ecological and evolutionary processes that contribute to why some plants are very common and others are very rare. A population dynamic perspective provides insights that inform management of invasive plants and conservation of rare plants.

David Queller, PhD

Spencer T. Olin Professor of Biology in the College of Arts & Sciences

Perhaps no community is more diverse than the soil microbiome with its predators, parasites, scavengers, cooperators, and symbionts, for ultimately all primary productivity ends up on the ground or in the water. We are interested in social evolution and mutualism. Our team uses a social amoeba as a window on this world. It has a solitary and a social stage, with cooperation, conflict, and cheating. It is also has symbiotic relationships with bacteria which influence its role in the community. It even has its own tiny microbiome. Because this system is microbial, it is amenable to field and laboratory experimentation, genomics, experimental evolution, and understanding at the level of the gene. We have a diverse and dynamic team of undergraduates who also are involved in scientific outreach. We also see to it that they get the big picture with a class dedicated to research methods.

Jan Salick, PhD

Senior Curator of the William L. Brown Center at the Missouri Botanical Garden

The William L. Brown Center (WLBC) is dedicated to the study of useful plants, understanding the relationships between humans, plants, and their environment, the conservation of plant species, and the preservation of traditional knowledge for the benefit of future generations.

Claudia Stein, PhD

Research Scientist at Tyson Research Center

My main research interests are directed towards understanding the influence of species interactions, especially plant-herbivore and plant-soil feedbacks, as well as biological invasions on the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.

Joan E. Strassmann, PhD

Charles Rebstock Professor of Biology in the College of Arts & Sciences

Perhaps no community is more diverse than the soil microbiome with its predators, parasites, scavengers, cooperators, and symbionts, for ultimately all primary productivity ends up on the ground or in the water. We are interested in social evolution and mutualism. Our team uses a social amoeba as a window on this world. It has a solitary and a social stage, with cooperation, conflict, and cheating. It is also has symbiotic relationships with bacteria which influence its role in the community. It even has its own tiny microbiome. Because this system is microbial, it is amenable to field and laboratory experimentation, genomics, experimental evolution, and understanding at the level of the gene. We have a diverse and dynamic team of undergraduates who also are involved in scientific outreach. We also see to it that they get the big picture with a class dedicated to research methods.

Christopher N. Topp, PhD

Assistant Member of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Adjunct Professor of Biology in the College of Arts & Sciences

The Topp Lab takes a phenomics approach to study crop root growth dynamics in response to environmental stress such as drought and rhizosphere competition, and as a consequence of artificial selection for agronomically important traits such as Nitrogen uptake. Studying roots requires the development of imaging technologies, computational infrastructure, and statistical methods that can capture and analyze morphologically complex networks over time and at high-throughput. Thus the lab combines expertise in imaging (optical, X-ray CT, PET, etc.), computational analysis, and quantitative genetics with molecular biology to understand root growth and physiology.

James Umen, PhD

Member of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Adjunct Professor of Biology in the College of Arts & Sciences

I maintain a diverse and interdisciplinary research program aimed at answering fundamental questions in eukaryotic cell biology, evolution and development using the green algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (Chlamydomonas) and Volvox carteri (Volvox), as well as some of their close relatives in the volvocine algal family. Green algae are the smallest and simplest members of the green plant lineage, and are an ecologically important group of organisms for their role in the global carbon cycle. Our research takes advantage of unique aspects of Chlamydomonas and Volvox to answer questions that can ultimately impact agriculture and human health.