Faculty Database:
[Research Interest: Ecology]

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NameEmailPhd ProgramResearch InterestsPublications
Juliano, Jonathan email , , , , publications

Despite recent success in reducing malaria transmission, the estimated annual numbers of malaria infections (~225 million) and deaths (~781,000) remain high. Despite this immense burden, our understanding of the genetic diversity of malaria and the factors that promote this diversity is limited.  This diversity among plasmodial parasites has a critical impact on many factors involved in the control of infections, including: 1) development of drug resistance, 2) development of naturally acquired immunity, and 3) vaccine design.  My laboratory’s primary interests are: 1) describing the genetic diversity of P. falciparum using molecular biological and next generation sequencing tools, and 2) using these data to understand the evolutionary and ecological factors that drive this diversity, promote the emergence of drug resistance and affect our ability to effectively develop immunity.

Marchetti, Adrian email , , , , publications

We are a biological oceanography lab that performs inquiry-based science by combining physiological and molecular approaches in laboratory isolates and natural communities to investigate how marine microorganisms are affected by their environment and in turn, influence ocean biogeochemistry and ecosystem dynamics. Particular interests include studying trace metals, such as iron, that are essential for the nutrition of phytoplankton and predicting the effects of future climate changes on phytoplankton distribution and abundance.  We implement the use of environmental genomic approaches (e.g. RNA-seq) to ascertain the ways in which marine microbes have adapted and acclimate to varying environmental conditions.

Mitchell, Charles email , , , , publications

My work focuses on the role of plant pathogens in (A) controlling or facilitating biological invasions by plants, (B) structuring plant communities, and (C) modulating the effects of global change on terrestrial ecosystems.  My group works on viruses, bacteria, and fungi that infect wild plants, chiefly grasses and other herbaceous species. Ultimately, I am interested in the implications of these processes for the sustainable provisioning of ecosystem services and for the conservation of biological diversity.

Peet, Robert email , , , , publications

My research focuses on plant community ecology and such related fields as plant geography, conservation biology, ecoinformatics and plant population ecology. I am particularly interested in how plant communities are assembled and vary across landscapes.   Toward this end I am helping define the emerging discipline of ecoinformatics through development of international databases and standards for large-scale data integration and exchange.  My current research on the vegetation of the Southeastern United States includes on-going studies of the long-term dynamics of Southeastern forests, human impacts on floodplain ecosystems, targets for restoration, and more generally factors influencing the composition and species diversity of terrestrial plant communities across a range of spatial scales.

Shank, Elizabeth email , , , , , , publications

My laboratory studies chemically mediated interactions between microbes, particularly those that lead to alterations in bacterial development. In the natural world, interspecies chemical communication contributes to the stability and function of complex microbial communities. We explore the mechanisms and molecules that microbes use to influence their microbial neighbors both in the laboratory and in natural environments using genetics, microscopy, chemical imaging, and next generation sequencing. Our goal is to gain insights into microbial ecology, identify compounds with novel bioactivities, and obtain chemical tools to manipulate bacterial behavior to our benefit.

Sockman, Keith W email , , , , , publications

I study the ultimate and proximate factors controlling flexibility in reproductive behavior. Using songbirds as a system, I use field and laboratory studies to investigate the ecological cues regulating reproductive flexibility, the neural integration of these cues, and the neural mechanisms precipitating adaptive behavioral outcomes. Of particular interest is the study of courtship and mate-choice behavior and how the songbird brain integrates ecological and social information. I am also interested in how the timing of reproduction, reproductive effort, and family planning are controlled. I use high performance liquid chromatography for the measurement of central catecholamines and immunocytochemistry and microscopy for quantifying neuropeptides and the expression of immediate early genes as markers of neural activity.

White, Peter email , , publications

My research interests are wide ranging, including topics in conservation biology and plant ecology.  I have had several foci: species richness (including the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, beta diversity (including the comparison of diversity in different parts of the world that have similar climates and the connections to coinservation planning),and  the ecology of natural disturbances (including connections to environmental ethics and conservation of biodiversity).  Through my role as Director of the University’s North Carolina Botanical Garden, a conservation focused garden, I am also involved in research and poliy in invasive species biology, ecological restoration, ex situ conservation and reintroduction of rare species, and related subjects.

Willett, Christopher email , , , , publications

My lab concentrates on studying the molecular genetic basis of the evolutionary processes of adaptation and speciation. The questions we ask are what are the sequence changes that lead to variation between species and diversity within species, and what can these changes tell us about the processes that lead to their evolution. We use a number of different techniques to answer these questions, including molecular biology, sequence analyses (i.e. population genetics and molecular evolution techniques), physiological studies, and examinations of whole-organism fitness. Currently work in the lab has focused on a intertidal copepod species that is an excellent model for the initial stages of speciation (and also provides opportunities to study how populations of this species adapt to their physical environment).