Distinguished Ecologist Seminars

We invite ecologists from around the world to speak each year. In the Fall, we highlight the work of a GDPE alum and a faculty member, and in the Spring we bring in outside speakers. We define “distinguished” broadly as someone who has contributed important work to the discipline of ecology. Below you will find information about our upcoming seminars.

All seminars in Fall 2023 will take place at 4:00pm in Biology 136. A post-seminar reception will be held at 5:00pm in the Biology 3rd floor Atrium. 

Fall 2023 Speakers

October 4th, 2023

“Restoration and community ecology of native bee communities”

Dan is a community ecologist with an interest in understanding the factors that drive biodiversity and how biodiversity may influence ecosystem function. His work at the University of Minnesota focuses on native bee communities with a strong emphasis on pollination ecology. Most recently, his work focuses on restoration ecology as a way to conserve biodiversity and as a tool for examining basic questions in ecology.

October 25th, 2023

“These are not your ancestors’ plagues and we should have known better”

The Antolin laboratory group at Colorado State University focuses on the effects of patchy or fragmented habitats on the population genetics of animals and plants. Most of their work has been on the genetics of sex ratio, life-history variation, and mating systems of parasitic wasps. For the last 18 years they have conducted studies of the population ecology, genetics, and epidemiology of the Black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus), whose populations are severely affected by local outbreaks of plague (Yersinia pestis). Besides studying metapopulation dynamics of prairie dogs, they study plague in the context of climate variability and the rodent communities surrounding prairie dog colonies, transmission of the plague bacterium by fleas, and genetic analyses of the plague bacterium.

Spring 2024 Speakers

February 28th, 2024

“On wings and wavelengths, and how an analysis of butterfly scales can lead to climate change solutions”

Research in the Pierce lab at Harvard University addresses the behavioral ecology of insects. They combine molecular systematics, field ecology, laboratory experiments and specimen-based museum surveys to analyze the ecology and evolution of symbiotic associations. Recent projects include analyses of ‘third party’ fungal and bacterial associations in African ant plants, evolution of caterpillar-ant associations in the Lycaenidae and other Lepidoptera, evolution of sensory perception and signaling in nocturnal and diurnal Lepidoptera, and biomimicry and engineering lessons drawn from the interaction between infrared light and the microstructures of insect cuticle.

March 20th, 2024

“Systems Integration for Global Sustainability”.

An ecologist, human-environment scientist and sustainability scholar, Jianguo “Jack” Liu holds the Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability, is University Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University (MSU), and serves as founding director of the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability. Liu came to MSU after completing his postdoctoral study at Harvard University. He also was a visiting scholar at Stanford, Harvard, and Princeton.

Aida Cuni-Sanches’ research interests, at the interphase between natural and social sciences, have focused on tropical forest ecology, carbon stocks, ethnobotany, forest use by local communities and forest conservation. She has been involved in several multidisciplinary collaborative research projects, in over ten countries in Africa. Apart from publishing in peer-reviewed journals, she is involved in disseminating results to wider audiences (from local communities to policy makers) and in science outreach, as she believes ‘science should be useful to people’. She is committed to capacity building in Africa, teaching in short courses and being an advisor for several African PhD students. Her current research project focuses on African montane forests and assesses ecosystem services, threats and potential management strategies.

For past speakers see our Previous Speakers page.