My laboratory studies the ecological and evolutionary forces shaping plant-pathogen coevolution. Our work blends field biology with molecular genetics and molecular evolutionary studies on the host plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, and its enemies. My lab revealed evolutionarily stable stalemates manifest as ancient balanced polymorphisms for resistance and susceptibility at R genes in A. thaliana’s genome. In dissecting the forces driving balancing selection, my laboratory revealed early evidence that ecological dynamics shape patterns of molecular evolution and that ecological complexity facilitates the maintenance of genetic polymorphism. Our laboratory is responsible for some of the earliest examples of designing transgenic plants to test evolutionary hypotheses, such as their demonstration of pleiotropic costs of resistance. We have also collaborated in developing GWAS mapping in Arabidopsis. In the course of this work, we have amassed and curated thousands of accessions that provide mapping populations and have facilitated the 1001 genomes project for the Arabidopsis community.

Awards and Achievements

  • AAAS Biology Section Chair ( 2013-2014)
  • Louis Block Professor ( 2010)
  • Cheung Kong Scholar Honorary Professor, Nanjing University ( 2005)
  • Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science ( 2004)
  • Presidential Faculty Fellow Award ( 1993)
  • Young Investigator Award, American Society of Naturalists ( 1993)
  • Marshall Scholarship ( 1984)
  • National Academy of Science
  • Fellow of the Life Science Research Foundation
  • University of Chicago BSD Distinguished Investigator Award

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