Research and/or Creative Works
The Pespeni Lab studies the processes that generate and impact the incredible biodiversity that exists on this planet, particularly in the contexts of complex natural ecosystems and rapidly changing climatic conditions. To discover connections between variation in genes and phenotypes in the context of the environment, we integrate approaches in genomics, population genetics, developmental genetics, physiology, and ecology using natural populations in both field- and lab-based investigations. Conceptually, our research addresses integrative questions in evolutionary biology, ecological genomics, and global change biology.
Our models systems to explore these mechanistic questions are sea urchins, copepods, and horned beetles. Sea urchins allow the investigation of fundamental physiological phenotypes that are particularly important in the context of climate change; copepods are fundamental to the function of ocean ecosystems and are easy to maintain in the lab across many generations; and horned beetles, the most speciose animal group on the planet, exhibit novel and elaborate morphological phenotypes amenable to developmental and gene function analyses.
Currently, our research focuses on two major lines of investigation: (1) Can populations/species adapt to rapidly changing climate conditions? Does this capacity to adapt depend upon the history of environmental variability or stability experienced by a species? And (2) What are the genetic and developmental bases for trait diversification? Do the same genes and pathways underlie trait differentiation among populations and divergence between species?
Areas of Expertise and/or Research
Ecological genomics, population genetics, evolutionary biology, physiology
- Ph.D., Stanford University, 2010
- Stanford University 2010-2011, Postdoctoral Fellow
- Indiana University, 2011-2014, National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow
- (802) 656-0628
Marsh Life Science Building, Rm 326A