Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dr. Ellen Currano joins as faculty in UW Botany Department

Ellen with a ~50 million year old fossil tree
stump in the Wind River Basin, Wyoming
Ellen Currano is our newest faculty member, with a joint appointment in Botany and Geology and Geophysics. She received a BS in geology and BA in biology from the University of Chicago and PhD in geosciences from Penn State.

The last two years of her graduate career were spent as a predoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Institution. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Wyoming, she was an NSF postdoctoral fellow at Southern Methodist University and an assistant professor of geology at Miami University (OH).

Ellen is a paleobotanist who studies the response of ancient plants and insect herbivores to environmental perturbations. Her research focuses on the Early Paleogene (65-45 million years ago) of Wyoming and the Paleogene-Neogene transition (30-20 million years ago) in Ethiopia.

22 million year old leaf fossil from the Mush Valley of Ethiopia. Insects fed on this leaf
when it was alive, and the feeding damage is preserved in the fossil record.

Prospective graduate students interested in pursuing field-based paleobotanical research in Wyoming are encouraged to email her.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Dr. Alex Buerkle won the 2013-14 A&S Extraordinary Merit in Research Award

UW Botany Associate Professor Alex Buerkle won the 2013-14 A&S Extraordinary Merit in Research Award for leading a highly productive research program as illustrated by his many published articles in top international journals such as the The American Naturalist; Ecology Letters; Molecular Ecology; Evolution; and Genetics

He has received consistent NSF grant support over the last five years. Dr. Buerkle and his students contribute to the understanding of evolution within hybrid zones using genomic analyses and drawing on study systems spanning much of life’s diversity, including fish and butterflies to sunflowers and spruce and poplar trees. 

He has received numerous invitations from around the world to deliver keynote addresses and has served frequently on NSF program panels.

To learn more about Dr. Buerkle’s research and please visit his website.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Botany Graduate Student Again Wins Grand Teton Fellowship

Kellen Nelson, who is pursuing a Ph.D in ecology and botany at UW, is the recipient of the 2014 Boyd Evison Graduate Fellowship. The Evison Graduate Fellowship began in 2005 to support advanced studies throughout the greater Yellowstone area. Four of the 10 fellowship winners have been UW graduate students, the most for any institution.

Read the full story at:  Botany Student Again Wins Grand Teton Fellowship
Source: UW

Monday, December 2, 2013

Travel grants enable Yao Liu, a Botany student, to travel to University of Wisconsin – Madison to conduct Quaternary research

Yao Liu, PhD student in Botany & the Program in Ecology, in Professor Steve Jackson’s lab, is expanding the search for past novel and disappearing climate states globally and into the deeper past. Climate change can trigger the reshuffling of species into communities with no modern analog. Current work has linked no-analog communities and climates at continental scales.

Yao is assessing the emergence of no-analog communities during warmer-than-present time periods, such as the last-interglacial (the Eemian, ~ 120,000 years ago), to evaluate how no-analog climates and high climate velocities are related to community shuffling.

Areas in red indicate end-21st-century climates with no close analog
in late 20th-century climates. From Williams et al. 2007
Yao Liu received support from the Botany Northen Fellowship and the Shlemon Center Student Travel Grant for traveling to University of Wisconsin – Madison in November 2013. There she collaborated with Dr. John W. (Jack) Williams, who is conducting foundational, high profile research aimed at understanding the relationship between novel climates and no-analog communities.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Professor Reiners wins ESA's top honors

UW Botany Professor William Reiners received the Eminent Ecologist Award, the highest honor from the Ecological Society of America that recognizes a senior ecologist who has made an “outstanding body of ecological work or sustained ecological contributions of extraordinary merit.”

He received this award during the Ecological Society of America’s (ESA) 98th Annual Meeting held in the Minneapolis Convention Center, MN (Aug 4-9, 2013).

Read the full story at University of Wyoming’s Public Relations office website.

Additional photos from the awards ceremony are on our Google+ photo albums

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dr. Dan Tinker's work highlighted in WyoFile

Dr. Dan Tinker's research on the 1988 Yellowstone fire is highlighted in WyoFile (Sept 9, 2013).

Dr. Dan Tinker (second from left) with his research team
Excerpt from the article:
"Tinker’s work, which includes years of data collection from the park — some of which has already been published — will eventually incorporate the use of a supercomputer to show how forests respond and regenerate after a fire, how the landscape changes over time and how it could burn again. The three-dimensional fire simulations will show how these young forests might burn and how that is different from old forests.
- Kelsey Dayton" 
Read the complete story at:

To learn more about his research and fellow researchers, visit The Tinker Lab for Forest & Fire Ecology

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Professor David Williams is the new head of the Botany Department

Professor David Williams was appointed as the new head of the Botany Department. He holds joint appointment in the Departments of Botany and Ecosystem Science & Management.  He is also Faculty Director of the Stable Isotope Facility in the Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center and is on the faculty in the Program in Ecology.

David Williams grew up in central Texas in Austin. He developed a fascination for nature and botany working in the nursery business and exploring the karst landscape of the Texas Hill Country. He earned a BA with a major in Botany at the University of Texas in Austin in 1985 and MS in Rangeland Ecology at Texas A&M University in College Station in 1988. He then moved to Pullman, Washington to continue his graduate studies at Washington State University where he earned his PhD in Botany in 1992.  Following postdoctoral studies at the University of Utah, Professor Williams joined the faculty at the University of Arizona in 1995 where he served as Assistant and Associate Professor in the School of Renewable Natural Resources.  He joined the faculty at the University of Wyoming in 2003.

Professor Williams has authored or co-authored over 80 peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters in plant biology and ecology. His research investigates plant-environment interactions in terrestrial environments of the world with particular focus on savannas, grasslands and deserts. Major research questions of societal importance address the potential responses of water-limited ecosystems to changes in climate, atmospheric chemistry and vegetation composition.

He is happily married (25 years now) to Rene¹ Williams, a former CPA turned artist and tennis addict. David and Rene¹ have three sons: Austen (23), Tanner (21) and Cullen (17), who all love Wyoming and the outdoors.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"Mean seeds" and their role in grass awn migration disease in sporting dogs

Grass awn migration disease that affects sporting dogs is thought to have increased over the past few decades.

Short bristles found at the end of the grass seeds, especially in unmoved and natural grasslands, can infect sport dogs and at times they can be fatal.

Sharp pointed part of the barbed seed can travel into the dog's body and lodge themselves in many vital organs causing serious infections resulting in its death.

Dr. William Lauenroth received a grant from the Canine Health Foundation to assess the impact of this disease and also create a list of the problem green seeds and their planting frequency in the marginal croplands of the US.

Canada wild rye (photo courtesy: US Fish & Wildlife Service

Listen to Dr. Lauenroth talk about this disease, challenges associated with diagnosing it, and planting patterns of Canada wild rye, a grass with sharp pointed seed with awn in the marginal croplands in the US Midwest.

Access the podcast at the Canine Health Foundation's website -

Friday, August 9, 2013

Training at UW leads to faculty positions for two researchers

Zach Gompert (UW Ph.D. 2012, Program in Ecology) and Tom Parchman (postdoctoral research 2008-2013) recently accepted assistant professorships at universities in the western U.S.  Zach was hired as an evolutionary biologist at Utah State University and Tom was hired as a genome biologist at the University of Nevada-Reno.  Both were very successful in their research while in Alex Buerkle's lab in Botany, where they developed their research expertise in computational biology and evolutionary genetics.

Zach (pictured above) plans to continue his research on butterfly evolution in Wyoming and for years to come is likely to be a regular research visitor to the UW-National Park Service Research at AMK Ranch in Grand Teton National Park.
Tom (pictured above) will continue to work on bird-pine coevolution and lodgepole population genetics, as well as population genetics of fish species that are threatened by hybridization with non-native species.

To learn more about the research conducted by Alex Buerkle and his team, please visit his lab's website.

--- Contributed by Dr. Alex Buerkle

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Christopher Deaderick talked about regrowth following Mountain Pine Beetle infestation in conifer forests

For the past decade, Mountain Pine beetles (MPB) have invaded millions of hectares of forest in Colorado and Wyoming, causing extensive conifer mortality.

While it is commonly believed that growth rates of subcanopy trees increase following removal of overstory trees, limited empirical data exist to confirm this.

Tree ring data can provide insights into such growth releases, as well as chronological occurrence of past climate and disturbance events and the severity and frequency of these events.

Christopher Deaderick, majoring in Biology and Environment and Natural Resources (ENR), was selected for the 2013 McNair Scholar. His research focused on examining the magnitude and timing of growth release of subcanopy trees following MPB-induced overstory mortality, with the objective of estimating the differences in growth release among cohorts (vertical tree canopy layers) and among tree species.

Christopher presented his research in the 21st annual McNair Scholars Research Symposium in UW Wyoming Union on July 29, 2013. McNair Scholars program prepares undergraduate students to pursue graduate studies by providing opportunities to define goals, engage in research, and develop the skills and student/faculty mentor relationships critical to success at the doctoral level.”

Dr. Daniel Tinker (Associate Professor, Botany Department) was Christopher’s research mentor. Dr. Tinker’s research focuses on forest & fire ecology.  For further information visit his lab’s website.

--- Contributed by Christopher Deaderick