College of Science

Environmental Biology Faculty

Beardsley, Paul

Assistant Professor. My research interests include K-12 science education and botany. Accordingly, I have a joint position at Cal Poly Pomona with the Center for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Education (CEMaST and the Department of Biological Sciences.
In science education, one major goal of my work is to develop, contribute, and rigorously study sustainable partnerships with local schools to improve levels of achievement for all students and improve teacher's effectiveness in science. A second more specific goal of my work is rigorous educational research, curriculum development, and advocacy focusing on student learning and teaching methods in evolutionary biology. Current projects involve studying the impact of inquiry-based teaching on middle school student learning in genetics and evolution. I am also developing curriculum supplements with the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History for AP Biology that focus teaching evolution using human examples. I am interested in recruiting graduate students interested in biological education.
In scientific research, my developing lab focuses on collaborative research in monkeyflowers (plants in the genera Mimulus, Erythranthe, and Diplacus). Current projects involve research in systematics and the genetics of species differences and rare plants. I am interested in recruiting graduate students interested in plant genetics.
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Bobich, Edward

Associate Professor. Functional plant morphology. All plant structures and processes are affected by their environment. In our lab we try to link interesting and novel plant structures, like lignotubers in walnuts, or cells, such as gelatinous fibers in desert plants, to their function. Thus, our research often incorporates several different fields, usually plant anatomy, biomechanics, and physiological ecology. Students in the lab have studied plants in the local woodlands, coastal sage scrub, and the Sonoran Desert and have addressed some long-standing questions through their research.
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Bozak, Kristin

Professor. Molecular Biology, Plant Physiology. Expression of genes involved in ripening of avocado; hormonal and developmental control of gene expression; genetic elements involved in regulation and expression. Tissue culture of endemic and/or rare plant species with varying hormone treatments.
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Brelles-­‐Mariño, Graciela

Associate Professor. Microbiology/Microbial Ecology. Biofilms. Plant-microbe interactions. In the past, microbiologists thought of microbes as cells living in isolation. However, most microbes are "social" and prefer to live as part of communities where interactions take place A biofilm is an example of this type of community. Biofilms are responsible for undesirable effects including disease and prosthetic device contamination, just to mention a few. Cooperative interactions among members of the biofilm make conventional methods of controlling microbial growth often ineffective. My lab is interested in biofilm inactivation/sterilization through gas discharge plasmas. We have demonstrated almost complete biofilm inactivation in Chromobacterium violaceum and Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms. We are now interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying plasma-mediated biofilm inactivation. My lab is also interested in the molecular interaction between an agriculturally important bacterium Sinorhizobium meliloti and its plant host, alfalfa. In this symbiosis, bacteria supply usable nitrogen to the plant, while the plant supplies carbon sources to the bacteria, resulting in a sustainable way of fertilizing the plant and improving soil fertility. The plant and the bacteria communicate by means of chemical signals. Nod factors, which are bacteria-to-plant signal molecules, mediate recognition and nodule organogenesis. We are studying the effect of Nod factors on the interaction between M. truncatula and S. meliloti, its symbiotic counterpart.
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Stephen H. Bryant, Ph.D.,

Professor. Population Biology, Genetics, Evolution, Ecology, Statistics; Population biology of Drosophila, especially D. pseudoobscura , in Death Valley; Desert plant polymorphisms. Determination of species relationships using mitochondrial DNA sequence studies.

Clark, Curtis

Professor. Plant Systematics and Evolutionary Biology. Evolution of Asteraceae, Papaveraceae; Speciation; Biogeography; Computer applications in biology. Dr. Clark is not accepting new graduate students at this time.

Ewers, Frank

Professor. Plant ecology, anatomy and evolution. Water transport, plant structure and biomechanics are all examined to determine whether form follows function. Our research is on the structure, function and ecophysiology of plants. This includes especially the biology of chaparral shrubs of California, mangrove trees of Mexico, and temperate and tropical climbing plants. At Cal Poly Pomona the central focus to our research program will be on native and invasive plants of the Voorhis Ecological Reserve. We will explore the wood structure/function/ecology/evolution at the tissue, organ, whole plant, community and landscape levels. A central theme will be the functioning of native versus exotic species and examination of the conditions that result in invasions of the native plant community.
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Hoyt, Donald

Professor. Physiological Ecology of Terrestrial Vertebrates. Integrated biology of vertebrate terrestrial locomotion: behavior, energetics, biomechanics, and muscle function. Energetics and water balance of avian embryos, comparative physiology of detraining in hibernators. Dr. Hoyt is not accepting new graduate students at this time.

Lappin, Kristopher

Associate Professor. The unifying theme of my research is the evolutionary ecomorphology of animals. In this field, one seeks to understand how the form and function of animals relates to how they interact with their environment. On the one hand, techniques in functional morphology, biomechanics, and physiology are used to study how animals work. On the other, animal-environment relationships, such as predator-prey interactions and social behavior, can be studied using techniques in behavioral ecology. The deciphering of the relationships between form/function and ecology/behavior can be achieved quantifying relevant animal performance measures, such as sprinting speed, jumping distance, and, my favorite, bite force. The characterization of animal performance, an emergent property of animal form and function, is a fundamental component of ecomorphological research. When ecomorphological patterns are examined in a comparative phylogenetic framework, one can test hypotheses of how the form and function of animals have evolved with regard to their behavioral ecology.
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Leong, Joan

Professor. Plant-insect interactions; pollination ecology, agricultural crop pollination; biology and ecology of native bees, foraging behavior of bees, conservation and restoration of vernal pool habitats; plant reproductive biology.
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Moriarty, David

Professor. Ecology; Evolutionary ecology of populations and communities; Structure and dynamics of avian communities; Applied statistical analysis; Computer applications. Dr. Moriarty is not accepting new graduate students at this time.
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Murry, Marcia

Lecturer. Current interests are focused on the use of microalgae for bioremediation, biofuels, animal feeds and high-value nuetracueticals. A current collaboration with environmental engineers at Cal Poly SLO and Shelton Murinda in Agriculture at CPP involves the isolation and characterization of native algal strains that seasonally dominate communities in large scale bioremediation operations. We are carring out physiological studies of axenic strains in photobioreactors to evaluate environmental parameters on productivity, proximate composition and photosynthetic effieciency to better control production in large scale applications.

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Questad, Erin J

Assistant Professor. Research questions in my lab relate to global change and the conservation of plant species diversity. My interests span several fields, including plant community ecology, restoration ecology, and invasion ecology. Three main questions of emphasis are: 1) How does environmental heterogeneity affect species diversity and conservation? 2) How has global change altered the interactions between native and invasive species? 3) How can plant functional traits guide the restoration of ecosystem processes?
An ongoing project in the lab addresses ecosystem restoration and endangered plant reintroduction in Hawaii and Southern California. This collaborative project combines high-resolution remote sensing data with field-based studies to improve restoration outcomes in dry ecosystems. A second project explores the impact of nitrogen deposition on invasion, restoration, and fire management in a grassland community in Southern California.
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Smith, Jayson

Assistant Professor. Dr. Smith is a marine conservation ecologist with particular interest in anthropogenic disturbances on ecosystem functioning and community structure of coastal habitats. Given the high population of humans in southern California, urban coastal ecosystems are subjected to numerous human impacts. Work in Smith's lab attempts to understand how these systems are changing and functioning in the face of these disturbances. Smith applies his conservation interests mostly to rocky intertidal ecosystems, focusing on invasive seaweeds; effects of human visitation; long-term change in community structure and dynamics; effects of climate change; restoration ecology, and environmental policy and management (such as Marine Protected Areas). The research questions addressed have implication in policy making decisions, particularly with current emphasis being placed on Ecosystem Based Management. Recently, focus has been placed on introduced seaweeds, including determining their impact on community structure, how they fit into native food webs, and examination of transport vectors.

Valdés, Ángel

Associate Professor. Valdés' research focuses on the systematics and biogeography of opisthobranch mollusks. Opisthobranch mollusks, or seaslugs, are a diverse group of almost exclusively marine, hermaphroditic organisms. Sea slugs are closely related to pulmonate gastropods (terrestrial snails and slugs) and display remarkable adaptations to different environmental conditions in the ocean. About 6,000 species are known worldwide but new species are constantly been discovered and named. A particularly rich source of new species is the deep sea, which remains largely unexplored.

One of the key factors in the evolutionary success of opisthobranchs is their trend towards the reduction or loss of the shell. In order to protect their exposed bodies, opisthobranchs have developed chemical defenses, which they obtain from their prey or synthesize on their own, as well some remarkable cases of warning colorations and mimicry. Because their morphological plasticity, opisthobranchs are an ideal subject to the study of evolution.

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