Associate Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Our lab studies the mechanisms and ecological consequences of plant induced responses to herbivore damage, including aspects of multi-trophic interactions, population ecology, phenotypic plasticity, plant-pollinator interactions and plant defense mechanisms against herbivores. In particular we are interested in the ecological relevance of herbivore-induced changes in flower metabolism and morphology. We are using chemical and molecular tools in manipulative field and laboratory experiments to understand the mechanisms of elicitation, signal transduction and defensive secondary metabolite production in plants, which are attacked by herbivores. The functional analysis of traits involved in the expression of induced plant responses of native species in their natural habitats may help to understand the evolution of plant defenses and eventually allows the utilization of the plants' own defenses in sustainable agriculture. Currently we focus on plant model systems in the nightshade family (Solanaceae), including wild tobacco, Nicotiana attenuata, and wild tomato species (Solanum spp.). Moreover, we started a program to understand the chemical ecology of the complex interactions of goldenrod, Solidago altissima, with its diverse arthropod community.
Twenty faculty and professional staff members in four of Cornell’s state contract colleges have been selected for the 2020–21 State University of New York (SUNY) Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence. This year, for the first time, all nominees put forth by Cornell won awards.
This year’s grants support four faculty research projects and four international conferences or workshops; the awards total more than $50,000. Launched in fall 2005, the Einaudi Center’s grants provide funding to seed faculty-led international...