People

Left to Right:

Kathryn Busby, Trevor Ledbetter, Elinor Lichtenberg (foreground), Kate Mathis, Coline Jaworski (foreground), Sarah Richman, Judie Bronstein (foreground in blue scarf), Kelsey Yule, Matt Rhodes, David Kikuchi, Palatty Allesh Sinu, Gordon Smith


Dr. Judith L. Bronstein

University Distinguished Professor, Dept. Ecology & Evolutionary Biology University of Arizona

Editor in Chief, The American Naturalist

Ph.D., M.Sc., Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan

A.B. Brown University

Using a combination of field observations and experiments, I investigate how population processes, abiotic conditions and community context determine net effects of the interactions for the fitness of each participant species.  Specific conceptual areas of interest include: (1) conflicts of interest between mutualists and their consequences for the maintenance of beneficial outcomes in these interactions and (2) context-dependent outcomes in both mutualisms and antagonisms. I am also collaborating on theoretical and empirical investigation of (i) the fragility of mutualisms in light of conservation threats and mechanisms of restoring disrupted interactions and (ii) the causes and consequences of “cheating” within mutualism.

judieb@email.arizona.edu

Click here for a film highlighting Judie’s work.


Graduate Students:

Sarah Richman

I study the population and community dynamics of mutualism, and the processes that promote mutualism persistence. Using a plant-pollinator system in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, I examine competition between bumble bee species that vary in the degree to which they act as mutualists for plants. In certain contexts, some bumble bee species act as nectar robbers (cheaters) rather than pollinators (mutualists), and my research has shown that this behavior can have negative reproductive consequences for plants. I use field experimental techniques to discern the contexts that promote or discourage nectar robbing, and how becoming a nectar robber affects competitive ability. When I’m not in the field, I devote a lot of my time to science communication and outreach. I am particularly interested in increasing STEM literacy and confidence among K-12 students in Tucson, and providing an inclusive atmosphere for the next generation of scientists. When I’m not doing that, you can often find me enjoying the warm Tucson weather on the patio of some restaurant or bar, indulging in snacks and/or cocktails.

Click here to see more at Sarah’s personal website.


Kelsey Yule

Broadly, I am interested in how biotic interactions influence the evolution of the involved species. Empirically, I study the interactions between a Sonoran Desert parasitic plant (desert mistletoe, Phoradendron californicum), its hosts, and its mutualist vectors using field observations, experiments, and population genomics. In addition, I have developed models of the adaptive dynamics of 1) the influence of density dependence and genetic architecture on life-history trade-offs and 2) antagonisms between species that share a mutualist partner.

See Kelsey’s recent paper in Molecular Ecology!


Gordon Smith

I am generally interested in the causes and consequences of within-species variation in pollinator behavior. Behavior is one of the most plastic and variable responses organisms have to their environment, and differences in an individual’s behavior can have large fitness consequences both for that individual and for other species it interacts with. This is especially true in plant-pollinator interactions, as plants rely heavily on mutualistic pollen vectors to reproduce. My research focuses on a number of questions: 1) How much do pollinator individuals vary in their foraging behavior? 2) How this variation is distributed over space and time? 3) What are the drivers underlying this variation? and 4) How does this variation influence plant fitness?  To answer these questions, I am performing a number of studies on the generalist pollinator Hyles lineata (Sphingidae), including observational fieldwork and physiological and choice experiments in the lab.


Kathryn Busby

My main questions involve how changing abiotic factors may affect desert species interactions. My interest in native bees, pollination, and climate change has led me to my current dissertation work on the effects of increased temperature on carpenter bee phenology, nesting, and pollen foraging. Desert carpenter bees are common native bees in the Southwest, but we don’t know how they may be affected as global temperatures rise. My work’s goal is to understand the many possible impacts of these temperature increases on carpenter bees. I also enjoy sharing my love of science through K-12 and public outreach. I am currently an instructor for UA’s Sky School and a teaching assistant for UA’s Insect Discovery.

 


Post-doctoral Associates:

Kate Mathis

I am an ecologist who is broadly interested in examining complex species interactions, particularly those involving social insects in agricultural systems. My work focuses on examining how the underlying mechanisms and drivers of species interactions can reveal the context dependency of these interactions in nature. I currently have two major components to my research: (1) examining how communication plays a role in complex species interactions, and (2) investigating how selective pressures shape these interactions.


Palatty Allesh Sinu

My broad research interests are tropical terrestrial ecology of insects, plant-animal interactions, systematics of insects, and conservation biology studies. My study systems are both the natural (tropical rainforests & desert) and agricultural landscapes of the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot, central Himalayas and Southwestern subtropical deserts of USA. At University of Arizona, I am studying the ecology of leafcutter bee – plant interactions from the perspective of diversification and distribution of the Megachile spp. Prior to joining my current job as an Assistant Professor of Central University of Kerala, I was an Entomologist (Scientist-C) at Tocklai Tea Research Institute, Jorhat, and post-doctoral fellow scientist and research associate at ATREE-Bangalore. I received my M.Sc. and PhD in Zoology from University of Calicut in 2000 and 2006, respectively with specialization in Entomology. I was the nominated INSPIRE faculty of Central Universities in the “In-Residence program at Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi”. The President of India hosted me during 6-12 June 2015 in the President’s palace. Currently I am a Raman Post-Doctoral Fellow of University Grant Commission and on study leave to University of Arizona in Tucson, USA (2016 – 2017).

Click here for more: CV and research description.


Bronstein Laboratory Associates

(Click to enlarge, then click the small “i” for more info)

Bronstein Laboratory Alumni

SABBATARIANS:

+ Lyn Loveless (sabbatical 2012) – Professor, The College of Wooster.

+ Anurag Agrawal (sabbatical 2011) – Professor, Cornell University.

+ Monica Geber (sabbatical 2005) – Professor, Cornell University.

+ Bill Morris (sabbatical 2003) – Professor, Duke University.

POSTDOCS:

+Elinor Lichtenberg (Ph.D. 2011) – currently postdoctoral fellow at The University of Texas at Austin.

+Jessie Barker – PERT postdoctoral fellow 2012-2015; currently continuing post-doc at Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.

+ Brigitte Marazzi – Swiss National Foundation postdoc 2009-2012; currently Research Associate at the Instituto de Botánica del Nordeste, Corrientes, Argentina.

+ Sevan Suni – PERT postdoctoral fellow 2010-2012; currently Darwin Fellow at University of Massachusetts Amherst.

+ Ruben Alarcon – PERT postdoctoral fellow 2004-2007; currently Assistant Professor at California State University Channel Islands.

+ Josh Ness – PERT postdoctoral fellow 2002-2005; currently Associate Professor at Skidmore College.

+ Nat Holland – NPS Ecological Fellow 2001-2003; currently Research Scientist at Unviersity of Houston.

GRADUATE STUDENTS:

+Paul CaraDonna (Ph.D. 2016) – currently a conservation scientist at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

+ Michele Lanan (Ph.D. 2010) – currently the Herbert Reich Chair of the Natural Sciences at Deep Springs College.

+ Kristen Potter (Ph.D. 2010) – currently postdoctoral fellow at Northern Arizona University.

+ Anne Estes (Ph.D. 2009) – currently postdoctoral fellow at University of Maryland School of Medicine.

+ Emily Jones (Ph.D. 2009) – currently Huxley Fellow at Rice University.

+ Alice Boyle (Ph.D. 2006) – currently Assistant Professor, Kansas State University.

+ Leif Richardson (M.Sc. 1999) – currently graduate student, Dartmouth College.

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