My interests include the molecular systematics and biogeography of the biodiverse legume plant family (Fabaceae or Leguminosae), including the cultivated species. Because legumes are abundant and diverse in highly seasonal environments, I am interested in the study of patterns of plant biodiversity in the North American sagebrush steppe and the seasonally dry neotropical forests and woodlands where succulent plant groups such as cacti, euphorbs, bromeliads, agaves, and aesclepiads are also common. I use a community phylogenetic approach because it integrates taxonomy and phylogeny with community ecology. This approach provides insights into how patterns of alpha and beta diversity are shaped by climate, disturbance, and other abiotic and biotic variables. Hopefully, such research will eventually assist reclamation and restoration efforts in highly seasonal vegetation. I am also interested in the flora of western North America. In particular, this includes biodiversity patterns of grasses. The grass family dominates the open arid and semi-arid regions of western North America and because grass species thrive with humans, patterns of grass biodiversity typically reflect the historical activity of humans. All of my interests happily coincide with my teaching responsibilities, which include plant systematics and agrostology.
Area of Responsibility
Research in molecular phylogenetics and systematics of mainly the legume 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 (including getting students involved with DataCamp), 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 Association for the Advancement of Science
- 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
- BIOB 420: Evolution (every spring semester)
- AGSC 454: Agrostology (fall semesters) with an image database at Flickr and the Montana Grasses app
- BIOO 435: Plant Systematics (fall semesters alternating with Agrostology) with an image database at Flickr
- BIOB 490R and 492: Independent undergraduate research and study (most semesters)
- PSPP 594: Graduate Seminar (occasional semesters)