email (preferred). phone: 406 994 2032. fax: 406 994 7600. Office: 308 Plant Biosciences Building (PBB).

Research Interests

The emphasis of my research is on the molecular systematics and biogeography of the biodiverse legume plant family (Fabaceae or Leguminosae), including the cultivated species. Because legumes are often most diverse in highly seasonal environments, I am interested in the study of patterns of plant biodiversity across large landscapes of the North American sagebrush steppe and adjacent desert regions, and Neotropical seasonally dry tropical forests (those rich in succulent taxa such as Cactaceae and Euphorbiaceae) and adjacent tropical savannas and wet forests. Using community phylogenetic approaches, which integrate the fields of community ecology, taxonomy, and phylogeny, I am trying to understand how patterns of phylogenetic alpha and beta diversity are shaped by disturbance in an effort to ultimately assist the reclamation and restoration of highly seasonal vegetation. Also, I am interested in the flora of Montana and biodiversity patterns of grass family (Poaceae). The grass family dominates the open arid regions of western North America and patterns of grass biodiversity reflect the historical activity of humans. These interests happily coincide with my teaching responsibilities, which include plant systematics and agrostology.

Area of Responsibility

Research in molecular phylogenetics, including the legume or pea family, instruction of courses in evolutionary biology (BIOB 420 and undergraduate and graduate seminars) and plant systematics (AGSC 434 and BIOO 435), graduate and undergraduate advising, and director of the Montana State University Herbarium (MONT).

Education and Work Experience

  • B.S. 1978. Biology, University of Nevada at Reno.
  • M.S. 1981. Botany, University of Nevada at Reno.
  • Ph.D. 1986. Botany, University of Texas at Austin.
  • Post Doctorate. 1987-1988. Molecular Systematics, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
  • Assistant, Associate, and Professor. 1989-present. Montana State University - Bozeman.

Memberships in Professional Associations

  • American Society of Plant Taxonomists
  • Society for the Study of Evolution

Recent Professional Activities

  • A regular reviewer of manuscripts for a diversity of systematic, biogeographic, and ecological journals, as well as for grant proposals submitted to agencies like the USDA and NSF

Courses Taught

  • BIOB 420: Evolution (every spring semester)
  • AGSC 454: Agrostology (fall semesters of odd-numbered years)
  • BIOO 435: Plant Systematics (fall semesters of even-numbered years)
  • BIOB 490R and 492: Independent undergraduate research and study (most semesters)
  • PSPP 594: Graduate Seminar (occasional semesters)

Current Programs


Molecular systematics of the legume family (Fabaceae)

Biodiversity patterns within the sagebrush steppe and adjacent open arid vegetation, biodiversity patterns in seasonally dry tropical forests and adjacent tropical savannas and tropical rain forests (in collaboration with legume colleagues)

Grass Flora of Montana


Evolution curriculum (e.g., the courses Evolution and graduate seminars) 
Plant identification and systematic courses (e.g., Agrostology and Plant Systematics)
Plant photographic database at