Faculty in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Research in HBCU GAP includes faculty who study questions in molecular, cell, and developmental biology (for Xavier, FAMU, and UMES students) and questions in ecology and evolutionary biology (for Howard students). Students admitted to the HBCU GAP program will begin by preparing for research during the academic year via monthly videoconferences (via Zoom, a freely available platform) with their designated faculty mentors. Mentors and students will read and discuss the appropriate literature, consider possible areas of focus for summer research, and connect research preparation to the student’s coursework.

Nann Fangue (UC Davis Chancellor’s Fellow, 2016) focuses on determining the ecological significance of physiological variation in animals that inhabit dynamic environments. She studies a variety of aquatic species, often those living in naturally extreme or anthropogenically-challenging habitats, and addresses both questions in fundamental biology and applied conservation.
Jennifer Gremer investigates how species’ traits interact with the environment to affect performance and how those patterns influence population and community dynamics. She uses a combination of physiology and demography to understand processes such as life history evolution, population dynamics, and the maintenance of diversity in communities.
Rick Grosberg‘s research centers on understanding the behavioral, ecological, cellular, developmental, and genetic mechanisms that limit conflict and promote the evolution of cooperation. He focuses primarily on marine organisms, using field and lab experiments, molecular genetics, population genetics, and phylogenetics, plus a very modest amount of modelling.

Dr. Grosberg received the 2000-2001 Division of Biological Sciences teaching award; 2003 UC Davis Academic Senate Citation for Distinguished Teaching; the 2010 UC Davis Prize for Teaching and Scholarly Achievement; and the 2016 UC Davis Graduate Mentoring Award.

Ted Grosholz‘s interests include population dynamics and community ecology, invasion biology, conservation biology, biodiversity of marine and estuarine systems, and applications of ecological theory to coastal management problems. He uses field and laboratory experiments to answer basic ecological questions and provide solutions to management problems.
Ben Houlton (UC Davis Chancellor’s Fellow, 2013) uses basic knowledge about biotic interactions with the earth’s chemistry to work toward global sustainability. Students in his lab work in a variety ecosystems – from desert to rainforest – and across scales ranging from bacteria to the biosphere. His research has been profiled by venues such as MSNBC’s Today and NPR’s Morning Edition.
Brian Johnson studies the biology of honeybees. He uses an integrative approach to examine traits of honeybees at all leves — from genes, to ecology, to behavior. His research will help entomologists and beekeepers understand factors that underlie a healthy population of bees or that influence phenomena such as colony collapse disorder. Dr. Johnson joined the UC Davis Entomology faculty in 2011 following postdocs at UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, and the University of Bristol in the UK.
Gail Patricelli studies animal communication and sexual selection, with a focus on understanding the amazing diversity and complexity in animal signals. Most of her research involves birds, primarily sage grouse and songbirds. Her research tools include robotic birds used to elicit and record behavioral responses from real sage grouse. Dr. Patricelli and this research have been profiled by the National Science Foundation via the “Science Nation” website and the PBS series “Nature.”

Dr. Patricelli received the UC Davis Chancellor’s Award for Mentoring Undergraduate Research in 2012.

Santiago Ramirez (UC Davis Chancellor’s Fellow, 2020) studies the adaptations, speciation processes, and ecological determinants that influence insect-plant associations, with a particular interest in the euglossine bees that pollinate neotropical orchids. His work combines ecological genomics, molecular phylogenetics, population genetics, chemical ecology, and natural history.
Sebastian Schreiber is a theoretical ecologist and mathematician whose research interests focus on understanding the feedbacks between community structure, population dynamics, and evolutionary processes. He works on both theoretical problems and questions derived in close collaboration with experimental ecologists. He uses techniques from dynamical systems and stochastic processes in conjunction with numerical simulations.
Jay Stachowicz (UC Davis Chancellor’s Fellow, 2006) addresses the ecological causes and consequences of biodiversity in marine communities. He uses seaweeds and marine invertebrates as experimental subjects and has conducted research involving a diverse suite of invertebrate taxa including corals, hydroids, crabs, echinoderms, polychaetes, ascidians, bryozoans, and gastropods. His specific areas of focus include the effects of species diversity on communities and ecosystems, ecological consequences of genetic diversity, positive interactions and mutualisms, and the ecology and evolution of decorator crabs.

Dr. Stachowicz received the College of Biological Sciences teaching award in 2010-2011 and the UC Davis Academic Senate Citation for Distinguished Teaching in 2012.

Anne Todgham (UC Davis Chancellor’s Fellow, 2020) studies the molecular, biochemical and physiological mechanisms that underlie an animal’s capacity to cope with environmental change. Her current research program has an eye towards global climate change and addresses the general question of whether contemporary animals have the physiological flexibility necessary to buffer the unprecedented rates of environmental change, specifically their response to changes in multiple environmental variables.
Rachel Vannette seeks to understand how microbial communities influence interactions between plants and insects. Members of the Vannette Lab use tools  from microbial ecology, chemical ecology, and community ecology to better understand the ecology and evolution of interactions among plants, microbes and insects.
Peter Wainwright studies the interface between evolution, ecology and functional morphology using fishes as model organisms. Most of his research focuses on the feeding biology of fishes, including questions about complexity, diversity, and plasticity of design. He also generates and uses phylogenies to address questions about the history of various fish groups, including their functional morphology.

Dr. Wainwright received the Division of Biological Sciences teaching award in 2008-2009 and the UC Davis Academic Senate Citation for Distinguished Teaching in 2009.

Louie Yang examines how ecological communities combine complex, coordinated and changing interactions over time. His research includes studies of community responses to strong perturbation events such as hurricanes, the phenology of seasonal community assembly, stage-structured species interactions, and the e