Assistant Professor, Biology Department, UMass Amherst
Curator, UMass Natural History Collections Living Plant Collection
My lab is focused on figuring out the molecular biology underlying the evolution of plant development. I am particularly intrigued by floral development, and the evolution of the genes and gene networks that underly floral morphology.
USDA NIFA postdoctoral fellow
One of my principal research goals is to integrate genetic, genomic, and molecular biology tools to increase our understanding of plant evolution and development. I completed my PhD at Iowa State University in Dr. Jonathan Wendel’s lab working on the evolution of duplicated gene networks in polyploid cotton. In the Bartlett lab, I study the evolution, regulation, and function of CLAVATA-network genes in the angiosperms.
My research aims to connect underlying genetic and developmental mechanisms with broader patterns of biodiversity, with a focus on the angiosperms (flowering plants). I completed my dissertation at Indiana University with Leonie Moyle, in which I examined potential overlap between floral trait variation and speciation in a florally-diverse genus called Jaltomata (tomato family). In the Bartlett lab, I aim to investigate floral development on a more molecular level, including characterizing maize mutants with different flower related phenotypes.
About 10% of angiosperms have some form of monoecy (separated male and female flowers on the same individual) or dioecy (male and female flowers on different individuals). Floral sexuality is particularly diverse in the grasses, where I am interested in discovering how sex determination is regulated at a molecular level. In particular, I am studying the genetics of the development of monoecious flowers in maize.
I study the genetics of meristem development in maize, and how meristems give rise to mature plant organs. As a domesticated crop, maize can also provide insight into the human influence on plant evolution. Insights into these problems will support further understanding of developmental pathways, genetic networks, and evolution, and could be used to support crop improvement efforts.
I’m interested in exploring the evolution of development in plants. As Dobzhansky said, “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”, and this holds true for development. I’m currently studying a mutation in an unidentified gene in Brachypodium distachyon that results in highly pleiotropic phenotypic changes. This system will allow us to examine the mechanisms by which a single gene is able to affect multiple developmental processes.
High School Interns
Interested in joining the lab?
If you're interesting in joining the lab as a grad student, consider applying through the plant biology, molecular and cellular biology, or organismal and evolutionary biology graduate programs at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. If you're a postdoc or an undergraduate wanting to work in the Bartlett lab, please get in touch via email.