Professor of Plant Biology, Jill Preston

jill in round, black glasses, smiling broadly in a book lined room

Jill Preston’s lab studies the evolution of plant development in the context of genetics and climatic factors that influence phenology, growth, and yield. Focusing primarily on the economically important grass family, members of the Preston lab seek to understand the extent to which past trait evolution positively or negatively constrains future evolution in the context of ongoing climate change. To do so, they study developmental, physiological, and morphological data in the light of gene expression, climate and phylogeny, combining observations and lab experiments on wild populations, inbred lines, and mutants.

Professor of Plant & Soil Science, Yolanda Chen

Yolanda Chen leads the Insect Agroecology and Evolution lab, which is broadly interested in how people have influenced the ecology and evolution of insects as pests in agriculture. The lab focuses on the origins of insect as pests, why they continue to be so successful in rapidly adapting within agroecosystems, and developing novel applications for managing them sustainably. To address these questions, research in the lab utilizes behavior, ecology, epigenetic, population genetic, physiology, and genomic perspectives in laboratory and field settings.

Associate Professor of Biology, Melissa Pespeni

Melissa Pespeni directs the Pespeni Lab which studies the processes that generate and impact biodiversity, 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, the lab integrates approaches in genomics, population genetics, developmental genetics, physiology, and ecology using natural populations in both fields and lab-based investigations.

Henderson-Harris Fellow in Biology, Joaquin C. B. Nunez

Dr. Nunez leads the Nunez Lab ( at UVM. The primary goal of his lab is to quantify the relative contributions of selection and drift to the levels of genetic variation observed in natural populations. Current projects include characterizing the dynamics of rapid evolution in fluctuating ecosystems as well as understanding the genomic consequences of boom-and-bust demography in seasonal populations. To this end, his lab combines computational, experimental, and multi-omics approaches across a variety of study systems (fruit flies, barnacles, sea urchins, ants, and simulations).

Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Laurent Hébert-Dufresne

Laurent Hébert-Dufresne studies the interaction of structure and dynamics. His research involves network theory, statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics along with their applications in epidemiology, ecology, biology, and sociology. Recent projects include comparing complex networks of different nature, the coevolution of human behavior and infectious diseases, understanding the role of forest shape in determining the stability of tropical forests, as well as the impact of echo chambers in political discussions.

Program Coordinator of BilDS, Renhui(Lola) Chen

Lola has an academic background in environmental science, environmental justice and African studies and is interested in providing inclusive student services and program coordination that emphasizes social justice.