OSyM Participants

    • Type of Researcher
    Sarah Kingston
    Organismal Biologist
    Visiting Assistant Professor
    University of Maine
    Bowdoin College
    Kingston Lab site
    Research Summary

    I leverage genomic data sets to illuminate fundamental ecological and evolutionary processes in wild populations. My research foci fall into three major lines of inquiry: hybrid zones, adaptive responses to climate change, and fisheries and aquaculture in a changing environment.

    Biographical Info

    University of Maryland BEES* PhD
    The College of Charleston – the Graduate School Marine Biology MSc
    The College of William and Mary History BA
    *Behavior, Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics

    Mimi Koehl
    Biomechanic, Ecomechanic, Organismal Biologist
    University of California at Berkeley
    Department of Integrative Biology
    Research Summary

    Mimi Koehl studies the physics of how organisms interact with each other and their environments. Her goal is to elucidate basic physical rules that can be applied to different kinds of organisms about how body structure affects mechanical function in nature. I combine techniques from fluid and solid mechanics with those from biology and ecology to do experiments in the field as well as in the laboratory. She have been using this approach to address a variety of questions, including how microscopic creatures swim and capture food in turbulent water flow; how marine larvae recruit into benthic habitats; how being multi-cellular affects swimming, feeding, and predator avoidance in protozoan ancestors of animals; how morphology affects aerodynamic performance of extinct ancestors of flying insects and birds; how wave-battered marine organisms avoid being washed away; how hydrostatic organisms change shape and move through their habitats; and how suspension-feeding aquatic animals capture particles and how olfactory antennae catch odors from water moving around them.

    Biographical Info

    Mimi Koehl, a Professor of the Graduate School in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, earned her PhD in Zoology at Duke University and did postdoctoral research at the University of Washington and at the University of York, UK. She studies the physics of how organisms interact with their environments. Professor Koehl is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has been elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She has been the Executive Director of the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science at UC Berkeley, and Chair of the Science Board of the Santa Fe Institute. Her awards include a MacArthur “genius grant,” a Presidential Young Investigator Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the John Martin Award (Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, for “for research that created a paradigm shift in an area of aquatic sciences”), the Borelli Award (American Society of Biomechanics, for “outstanding career accomplishment”), the Rachel Carson Award (American Geophysical Union, for "cutting-edge ocean science"), and the Muybridge Award (International Society of Biomechanics “highest honor”).

    Keywords: biomechanics, ecomechanics of invertebrates
    Geoffrey Legault
    Postdoctoral Fellow
    University of British Columbia
    Research Summary

    All ecological processes exhibit randomness or stochasticity. For complex systems with multiple interacting processes, the effects of stochasticity can combine in unexpected ways, leading to outcomes not predicted by traditional deterministic models. My research focuses on developing stochastic models of ecological processes that account for such randomness and thereby make better predictions. Where possible, I combine theoretical model building with empirical model validation. I am especially interested in applying stochastic modeling to better understand how populations and phenotypes will respond to climate change.

    Biographical Info

    I became interested in pursuing ecology as a career after working as an undergraduate with Robert Jefferies (University of Toronto) in the Canadian Arctic. Following an M.Sc. on Arctic plant and insect phenology, I switched focus to ecological theory and for my Ph.D. (University of Colorado at Boulder) studied the effects of stochasticity on populations. My current research continues to focus on applications of stochastic modeling, particularly with respect to physiology and dispersal.

    Ofir Levy
    Modeler, Organismal Biologist
    Senior Lecturer
    Tel Aviv University
    Research Summary

    My overall goals are to improve our theoretical and applied understanding of the effects of climate on ecological systems. To this end, I develop ecological and physiological approaches that bring new mechanistic insights into how environments affect organisms. Such insights are crucial for understanding ecological responses to climate change and for developing management and conservation strategies that can help species maintain their ecological niches under future climates.

    Biographical Info

    I am a Senior Lecturer(an equivalent title to Assistant Professor in the USA) at the School of Zoology of Tel Aviv University since 2018. I earned my Ph.D. in Tel Aviv University’s Department of Zoology in 2010 and completed a postdoctoral appointment at the School of Life Sciences of Arizona State University in 2017. For my dissertation at Tel Aviv University, I was primarily concerned with understanding how ecological, physiological, and evolutionary forces shape organismal activity patterns in the Judean desert, a relatively harsh and unpredictable environment. During my postdoctoral appointment, I have shifted my model animals to reptiles, studying the biological effects of climate change using empirical observations and individual-based models. Currently, my lab broadly explores subjects in ecological physiology and climate change, with a strong emphasis on the relationships between animals and the environment. In particular, I integrate remote sensing data with microclimate and individual-based models on the one hand, and empirical observations at climatic gradients on the other.

    Liang Ma
    Modeler, Organismal Biologist
    Postdoctoral Researcher
    Princeton University
    Research Summary

    I have experiences in integrating empirical data and mechanistic models to tackle difficult questions. For example, I examined hypothesis about the evolution of viviparity at a global scale by mapping soil temperatures into developmental traits (Ma et al. 2018, Global Ecology and Biogeography). By modeling the pattern revealed by a control experiment testing the effect of embryonic movement on sex ratio of TSD species, I predicted that such embryonic movement could buffer the variation of sex ratio among seasons and across latitudes (Ye et al. 2019 Current Biology; co-first author). I developed a life-history model to compare the impacts of climate change on viviparous and oviparous squamates (under review). I also incorporated the plasticity of embryonic thermal tolerance into a mechanistic model to reveal how the plasticity would affect the heat stress experienced by developing embryos (under review).

    Biographical Info

    I am a conservation physiologist interested in exploring how species adapt to thermal gradients through time and space, and how they would respond to global change. I have a particular interest in integrating empirical studies and mechanistic models to reveal ecological patterns across scales. I’m currently working with David Wilcove as a postdoctoral researcher in Princeton University. I acquired a PhD degree of ecology in 2017 at Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (supervised by Wei-guo Du) and did a two-year postdoctoral research in the same lab. I also did a 1-year internship in University of Washington (supervised by Raymond Huey and Lauren Buckley) during my PhD.

    James Marden
    Organismal Biologist
    Professor of Biology and Associate Director Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences
    Penn State University
    Mueller Lab
    Research Summary

    My research focuses on the physiology and ecology of insect flight; molecular genetics of disease resistance in tropical trees; and integrative biology.

    Keywords: ecology, physiology, biomechanics, functional genomics
    Lynn Martin
    Organismal Biologist
    University of South Florida
    Martin lab at USF
    Research Summary

    Marty's is generally interested in the ecophysiology of wild vertebrates, especially birds and mammals. Research in the lab now addresses what physiological and behavioral traits enable some individuals to have disproportionate effects on the spread and dilution of infectious diseases, how molecular epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation underlie the phenotypic plasticity that enables some organisms to be exceptional colonizers, and how body size constrains the architecture of the immune systems and other defenses of species.

    Biographical Info

    Marty earned a BS and an MS in Biology from Virginia Commonwealth University, followed by an MS and PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton. He then spent 3 years as a postdoc in Psychology and Neuroscience at The Ohio State University and joined the University of South Florida in 2007 as an Assistant Professor. Since 2018, he has been Professor in Global and Planetary Health in the USF College of Public Health.

    Alexander Mauro
    Organismal Biologist
    Graduate Student
    Colorado State University
    The Evolutionary Ecology of Ranges
    Research Summary

    My research focuses on a question that has been of great interest to evolutionary biologists since the inception of the field: why does natural selection not select for greater environmental tolerance and hence greater ranges? I investigate this question by studying what sets the range limits of two species of guppies on the island of Trinidad. My research can be broken up into three main themes:1) Tradeoffs between ecologically relevant traits​ can set range limits. I'm currently investigating how competition and salinity tolerance tradeoff by studying guppy behavior, growth, and gene expression during a simulated saltwater invasion, 2) Once a population moves past its range and enters a novel environment, the type of phenotypic plasticity the population exhibits will influence ​its persistence in and adaptation to the new environment. I'm investigating this dynamic in the classic high-predation, low-predation guppy system, & 3) Gene flow from other populations can "swamp" out adaptive alleles and prevent local adaptation & set range limits. To investigate this I'm conducting a population genomics study on guppies in 3 estuarine rivers in collaboration with the Whitehead Lab at UC Davis.

    Biographical Info

    I am an evolutionary ecologist and 4th year PhD candidate in the Ghalambor lab at Colorado State. For my PhD I’m investigating what prevents guppies from expanding their ranges in the estuaries of Trinidad to better understand the adaptive process. I use a combination of genetics, behavior, and ecological studies to do this. As an undergrad, I worked on animal behavior, biomechanics, and eomorphology projects while at Claremont McKenna College. In addition to research goals, I also aim to have an active outreach program and currently accomplish this by guest-teaching “guppy” labs in local middle schools and high schools (I also coach middle school cross country!).