Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology

Wetland Ecology

Robert D. Doyle, Ph.D.

The Doyle lab is interested in the structure and function of shallow water systems- especially wetlands. One focus of our lab is on rooted aquatic plants, including impacts of invasive plant species, species flood tolerance, plant competition and restoration of native communities for habitat. Additionally, we are interested in nutrient cycling- especially the process of nitrogen fixation as well as determination of bioavailable carbon within surface waters. We are interested in both basic and applied science issues related to wetland systems. More recently I’ve become involved with science education and outreach for K-12 as well as the general public.

Ecologists study river ecology, collecting water samples

Landscape Ecology and Conservation Biology

Kevin J. Gutzwiller, Ph.D.

The overarching goals of the Gutzwiller lab are to understand broad-scale human influences on natural systems and to provide a scientific basis for managing the influences in support of biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human societies. Our general research interests include interdisciplinary assessment and management of impacts from land use, wildland recreation, road networks, and climate change. Current emphases involve cross-scale interactions and thresholds in species-landscape relationships, broad-scale effects of wildland recreation disturbance, socio-ecological influences on population persistence, ecosystem transition modeling, and applications of landscape ecology in conservation. We pursue research in ecological settings that range from remote wildlands to managed landscapes. Through collaboration, we integrate diverse data, field studies, simulation analyses, and statistical modeling.

A graphic depiction of the proposed conversion rate in the Southeastern U.S.

Comparative Animal Ecophysiology

Sarah Kienle, PhD.

The Kienle Lab at Baylor broadly focuses on understanding how different animals work in the context of their environment. We use quantitative analytical techniques to examine physiological and ecological factors that shape animal life history strategies. Research in this lab falls into three themes: characterizing the relationship between animal form and function, comparing life history trade-offs, and examining plasticity in ecophysiological traits. Much of our work has been on large marine vertebrates, although the questions and methods are applicable to a variety of systems.

Sarah, Kienle

Freshwater Ecosystems and Quantitative Ecology

Ryan S. King Ph.D.

We are a freshwater ecosystem science laboratory. More specifically, we study ecological thresholds, ecological stoichiometry, terrestrial-aquatic linkages, ecological statistics, and biodiversity-ecosystem functioning. We are particularly interested in the availability of three essential building blocks of life: phosphorus, nitrogen, and carbon. We design field studies and perform experiments to help understand how altering levels of these elements in isolation and coupled with potential contaminants may cause detrimental and even irreversible damage to ecosystems in which we rely on for water, food, and recreation.

A serene picture of a river, lit by sunbeams

Global Change, Freshwater Ecosystem Analysis

Stephen Powers, PhD.

Dr. Powers Lab at Baylor University studies global change, with emphasis on surface water bodies and watersheds, using data-intensive approaches to understand large-scale pattern and process. Interests include freshwater-climate interactions, watershed biogeochemistry, river-lake connections, environmental data synthesis methods, dams, seasonal cycles, and the “food-energy-water nexus.”

Lake Waco

Limnology and Aquatic Biogeochemistry

J. Thad Scott, Ph.D.

The Scott lab conducts research on the reciprocal relationship between aquatic microorganisms (phytoplankton, bacterioplankton, periphyton) and their chemical environment across spatiotemporal scales from populations to ecosystems. Our work involves both basic and applied questions such as the role of diazotrophs in controlling the nitrogen pool of lakes and the causes and effects of harmful algal blooms, respectively. We are interested in applying limnology to understand general ecological patterns and processes in nature, and to understand how microbial biogeochemistry impacts human welfare through water quality.

Photo of microscope view of microorganisms

Ecological and Adaptational Physiology

Stephen J. Trumble, Ph.D.

In the Laboratory of Ecological and Adaptational Physiology (LEAP) at Baylor University, my graduate students and focus on how the physiological adaptations of animals change in response to natural or anthropogenic stressors. Because questions and models are numerous, my lab has been involved in everything from zebrafish to rats to pinnipeds to baleen whales, on such topics as toxicology, endocrinology and a myriad of comparative health indices. The most recent and most exciting research is reconstructing lifetime chemical profiles (i.e. birth to death) of baleen whales using their earplugs. My lab is also currently working on questions pertaining to the preferential mobilization of fatty acids as it pertains to development, diving physiology, prey changes and overall health in deep diving seals.

A photo of a fossilized bone being measured for length

Ecosystem Response to Fire and Climate Change

Joseph D. White, Ph.D.

The White lab research is on whole ecosystem hydrologic cycling with emphasis on plant water transport evolution through long periods of time, atmospheric carbon and oxygen effects on plant water use efficiency, and disturbance of vegetation communities on watershed hydrologic discharge and stream geomorphology. These areas address the strength and types of feedbacks involved in the role of plant communities on flux rates of primarily water and carbon from terrestrial to aquatic systems at regional and biome-level scales. We attempt to integrate understanding of plants from cells to ecosystems and their role in the soil-plant-atmospheric-continuum over the Phanerozoic.

photo of fields being watered and a representative climate

EEO Faculty with Secondary Appointments in Biology

Mary Lauren Benton, Bioinformatics

The explosion of biological data generated in ever larger populations and across multiple -omic platforms holds great promise in understanding the how DNA sequence is tied to both genome function and disease risk. In addition, increasingly sophisticated experimental techniques requires the development of new computational approaches that can handle the scale of such data. The Benton Lab develops integrative computational approaches to mapping the relationship between gene regulatory sequences, gene expression levels, and disease risk.

Bryan Brooks, Environmental Health

Researchers in my group are engaged in interdisciplinary projects that often incorporate laboratory and field studies in aquatic, environmental and comparative toxicology, environmental risk assessment, and water resources research.

James Fulton, Microbial Biogeochemistry

Researchers in the Microbial Biogeochemistry Lab use liquid and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry to study microbial biomarker compounds in environmental samples and predict pathways of biogeochemical nutrient cycling in modern and ancient ecosystems. Areas of research span a broad range of spatial and temporal scales and include microbial mats, biological soil crusts, and ancient marine sediments.

Ramon Lavado, Environmental Toxicology

Dr. Lavado is an environmental toxicologist that is working toward investigating biological mechanisms involved in the biotransformation of legacy compounds and advancing in vitro approaches to enable resource-efficient environmental monitoring of the aquatic system. His three main research areas within his overall program are: 1) advancement of in vitro approaches to enable efficient environmental monitoring and a reduction in the use of animals in toxicology; 2) endocrine disruption determination in wildlife associated with environmental pollutants; and 3) drug-metabolizing enzymes and their role in the biotransformation of contaminants of emerging concern and their metabolites in vertebrates, including fish and humans.

Cole Matson, Environmental Toxicology

Matson is an environmental toxicologist specializing in the genetic effects of contaminants on wildlife. His research focus is currently the genetic and developmental impacts of environmental contaminants on fish, with a particular interest in how environmental gradients affect the toxicity of nanomaterials and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Ryan McManamay, Human-Environmental Systems

The McManamay Lab seeks to understand how humans alter landscapes and we seek to find balances between societal demands and ecosystem needs. We answer these questions through the lens of spatial analysis and modeling that integrates biophysical and socioeconomic systems. Our work includes aspects of resource assessments (e.g., renewable energy potential), land use and land cover change, hydrology, biogeography, ecosystem assessment, and decision-support, spans a number of scales, and includes both field and modeling.

Dan Peppe, Paleobotany, Paleomagnetism, and Paleoclimate

Our lab’s research is focused on reconstructing ancient climates and ecosystems through time in North America and East Africa, and on developing better and more accurate paleoclimate and paleoecological proxies. To do this we integrate methods in paleobotany, ecology, paleoclimatology, sedimentology, stratigraphy, and paleomagnetism. Results from this research address a broad spectrum of questions aimed at understanding the underlying dynamics of environmental, biotic, and climatic change through time.

Austin Reynolds, Human Genetics

The Reynolds Lab uses genomic technologies and population genetic methods to answer questions about human evolution and health. We are particularly interested in the evolutionary impacts of infectious disease on the human immune system and host-pathogen coevolution. We are currently involved in research projects exploring TB risk in southern Africa, the impacts of stress and poverty on immunity in the rural US, and the population history of the Americas using paleogenomics.

Samuel Urlacher, Human Evolutionary Biology and Health

Members of the Urlacher Lab investigate the evolved bio-energetic pathways that drive variation in human development, metabolism & health. Our integrated field (e.g., Ecuador, Papua New Guinea, USA) and lab (e.g., stable isotope, immunoassay) research program spans the fields of human biology, behavioral ecology, evolutionary medicine, and global health. We are particularly interested in how children allocate calories between competing physiological tasks (e.g., growth, immune activity, brain development) and the impact of early adversity on lifetime metabolic disease risk.

Sascha Usenko, Environmental Chemistry

Dr. Usenko's research interests include tracking the environmental transport and fate of anthropogenic contaminants in aquatic ecosystems, particularly in spatial and temporal scales; also the transformation and bioavailability of persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals in the environment; and also the focus on the environmental forensic chemistry to identify sources of contaminants using unique chemical fingerprints.

Department of Biology

B.207 Baylor Science Building
One Bear Place #97388
Waco, TX 76798-7388

(254) 710-2911