The Donovan lab investigates plant evolutionary ecophysiology, with an emphasis on stress and resource use traits as they relate to plant performance. We examine ecological and evolutionary responses to growth limiting factors (e.g. water and nutrient limitations, salinity, heavy metals, and competition) in a number of plant systems. Our current study system is primarily a suite of Helianthus species, due to their wide-ranging ecology and available genetic and genomic tools. However, we also include other species from a variety of habitats (desert and coastal sand dunes, saline desert playas and coastal salt marshes, and Great Basin shrub steppe) as well as model plants such as Arabidopsis when appropriate. In general, we want to know how individual plant traits affect plant fitness and distribution, and how these traits evolve. To address these questions, we use a combination of ecological, ecophysiological, evolutionary genetic and genomic approaches. Please see the research page for descriptions of individual projects.
It is not too early to start inquiries about Fall 2015 admissions! We have strong programs in ecology and evolution, and several options for student support. If you are potentially interested, please contact Lisa Donovan and other faculty to discuss research areas and funding opportunities.