People

Primary Investigator: Art Weis

Art Weis and his wife, Donna

After 19 years in southern California, I returned to the land of four seasons to take directorship of the Koffler Scientific Reserve at Jokers Hill. I live at the reserve and have a research laboratory there. My main lab and greenhouse space are on the main campus, where I am a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

My early research interests included insect life history evolution, ecological interactions across three trophic levels and the evolution of plant defense systems. Much of this work centered on goldenrod, the goldenrod gall fly, and the fly’s insect and bird enemies.

Recently I have become interested in the selective pressures imposed by climate change. In California, my lab used the “resurrection paradigm” to demonstrate a rapid adaptive response by field mustard, a winter annual, to an extended drought. At KSR I am continuing to work on the evolution of phenology to lengthening growing seasons.

Beyond my duties at the University of Toronto, I serve as the director of the Canadian Institute for Ecology and Evolution/Institut canadienne d'écologie et d'évolution, which is a newly forming national “think tank” to promote the synthesis of existing research results, development of new theory, and to provide unbiased assessments of ecological and evolutionary issues to policy makers and stakeholders. I am also involved in Project Baseline, which is establishing a seed bank that later generations of evolutionary biologists can draw upon to implement the “resurrection paradigm” in studying evolutionary consequences of global change.

The move form California to Ontario has been great. I grew up in Aurora, Illinois (home town of Wayne and Garth—party on!) so it was a return to a familiar climate. My wife, Donna, loves living in forest yet being in striking distance of Toronto.

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Post-doc

Jennifer Ison

Jennifer Ison


I joined the Weis lab in the fall of 2010 as a Postdoctoral Fellow. My focus is on quantifying the temporal genetic structure of Brassica rapa populations using sterile male plants as "pollen traps" in experimental populations at the Koffler Scientific Reserve (KSR). I plan to genotype seeds from the "pollen trap" plants at microsatellite loci and conduct paternity analysis to quantify how pollen is moving both spatially and temporally. I am also assisting in equipping and managing the genetics lab in the new Laboratory for Biodiversity and Global Change Biology building at KSR.

I completed my doctoral work in another Great Lakes city, Chicago, where I was jointly advised by Mary Ashley from the University of Illinois-Chicago and Stuart Wagenius from the Chicago Botanic Garden. My dissertation research explored how flowering phenology and spatial isolation affect reproductive success and pollination patterns in a long-lived prairie perennial, Echinacea angustifolia, with implications for prairie and ex situ conservation. When I'm not in the lab or field, I am usually playing with my two fluffy dogs, Bear and Raven.

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Graduate Students

Emily Austen

Emily Austen


I began began my PhD studies in 2008. I am investigating the evolution of flowering time, using Brassica rapa as a model. Flowering time is different from many of the other quantitative traits we study: It is multivariate in nature, it affects both the reproductive phenotype of the individual and the mating environment it experiences, and it seems not to comply with some of our standard assumptions about parent-offspring resemblence. I am investigating these peculiarities through a combination of greenhouse and field experimentation, molecular analysis, and simulation modeling.

Before joining Art's lab, I carried out undergraduate research with Chris Eckert, completed a Master's degree in Environmental Studies, worked in climate change adaptation at IDRC and in water policy at Environment Canada, and worked as an ecological research assistant at the University of Florida.

Geoff Legault

Geoffrey Legault


I joined the lab in September 2009 as a Masters student, having recently completed a B.Sc. in Ecology at the University of Toronto. My previous work was with Robert Jefferies, centering on soil ecology as well as on goose-plant interactions. I am intensely interested in the many facets of Arctic ecology, particularly in the context of global change phenomena (including, but not limited to, climate change). My current focus is sub-Arctic arthropods: their phenology, community structure, and their responses to environmental change. The majority of my field work is conducted out of Churchill, Manitoba, a remote sub-Arctic area situated in the Hudson Bay Lowlands. Next summer will mark my 4th year there as a student of the North.

Susana Wadgymar

Susana Wadgymar


I joined the Weis lab in the fall of 2009 for my PhD studies. My research uses Chamaecrista fasciculata as a model species to explore how subsequent life history stages relate to one another, with a focus on the plasticity and constraints in reproductive phenologies. Using artificial warming treatments in field settings, I study these associations under the influence of the increased temperatures expected with climate change using populations from distinct latitudes throughout the species' distribution.

I completed my undergraduate studies in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavioral Science at the University of Texas (Go Longhorns!!). While there, I worked for a year and a half with Dr. Thomas Juenger on drought adaptation in Arabidopsis thaliana. I also had the pleasure of working with Dr. Lawrence Gilbert and Dr. Matthew Leibold at Brackenridge Field Laboratory on various projects.

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Undergraduate Students

Karen Bai

Ji Dong (Karen) Bai

I am currently in the third year of undergraduate degree, specializing in Evolutionary Biology and Zoology. I am currently investigating the effects of the environment on the heritability of flowering phenology in Brassica rapa. Last year, I did a research project with Dr. Asher Cutter identifying potential speciation-causing genes among species of nematodes. I enjoy playing the flute and participating in various sports, such as ping pong, skating and skiing.

Alex Levit

Alex Levit

Weis lab is great! I'm working on a double major in neuroscience & immunology and a minor in psychology. Somehow the team has converted me to do research on plants. Who knew?

Matt Cumming

Matt Cumming

I'm a third year undergrad specializing in Evolutionary Biology. I'm mainly interested in plant-animal interactions, and evolutionary anthropology but I'll delve into any scientific topic hungrily (especially Astronomy and Astrobiology... Sagan FTW!). I like to read, mountain bike, cook, and watch movies.

Rosa Son

Rosa (Gaim) Son

I am entering my fourth year of undergrad, studying biology and biotechnology. I feel faint at the sight of blood so I decided to work with plants. Currently, I am studying pollen movement by time and space at KSR and it is beautiful out here!

Genevieve Blais

Genevieve Blais

I'm going into third year this fall 2011 for a Specialist in Biology. I'm interested mainly in plant physiology and evolution. My current project focuses on interactions between incompatibility, inbreeding depression, and phenological assortative mating in Brassica rapa. When I'm not reading about biology, I spend my time snowboarding, boating, enjoying wildlife, playing bass and keyboards in an alternative indy band called Karoshi, playing piano, and just being an all around good sport.

Grace Taurozzi

Grace Taurozzi

I am a 4th year student majoring in Botany and Chemistry. I am planning to either go into research in plant physiology or become a forensic scientist. I am volunteering full time at the Weis Lab for the summer. I am an eternal pessimist, but the overly nice people working here are converting me.

Suchinta Arif

Suchinta Arif

I am a 3rd year undergrad specializing in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. I am pursuing a career as a Conservation Biologist and would love to do research on wildlife. Currently, I am a work study student at the Weis lab and am hoping to start a research project in the fall. In my spare time, I enjoy listening to music, playing with my slightly overweight cat (Kitty), and hanging out with ma homies. :)

Yana Gorin

Yana Gorin

I am currently going into my fourth year of EEB Major, double minor in Sociology and Buddhism Psychology and mental health. I enjoy the three disciplines a lot, for they shape me to be critical, analytical, and open minded. But my heart lies in sciences. Currently I am volunteering in the Weis lab, which is amazing, doing work on Brassica rapa. In a group we are working on a project that explores how assortative mating effects inbreeding depression, incompatibility, and distribution of S-allele diversity in a population of Brassica rapa. In my free time I enjoy outdoors, good music, theater, and philosophical discussions.

Tommy Oliver

Tommy Oliver

I'm a third year Zoology student who thinks this lab group is awesome! My interests are invasive species, plant-animal interactions, and manual labor; but I've helped with a lot of interesting projects. KSR is an amazing place and there's never a lack of interesting research happening. Off campus I enjoy riding with and coaching the school's equestrian team.

David Czosniak

David Czosniak (Western David)

I'm a volunteer at KSR in the Weis lab for the summer. I'm currently at the University of Western Ontario going into the third year of a Biochemistry program. When not at school I enjoy listening to music, and eating lots of bacon!

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Unofficial members

Fritz

Fritz


My primary interests include olfactory investigation of zoogenic detritus, assessment of running speed in sciurid rodents, and vocalization responses upon exposure to hominid intrusions. I sleep sometimes too.

Future members

You?


I welcome inquiries from potential post-docs, graduate students, undergraduates, and volunteers at any time. Please read the information for prospective members provided on this site, and contact me if you think this might be the lab for you.

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Past members

Supreet Sunil. (Undergraduate Resesearcher, 2010-2011)

Kyle Turner. Undergraduate Researcher, Frederickson Lab, University of Toronto. (Undergraduate Resesearcher, 2009-2010)

Bergita Petro. Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. (Undergraduate Researcher, 2008-2010)

Amanda Stock. Undergraduate Researcher, Stinchcombe Lab, University of Toronto. (Undergraduate Researcher, 2010)

Steve Franks. Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Fordham University. (Postdoc, 2005-2007)

Allan Ellis. Lecturer, Department of Botany and Zoology, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa. (Ph.D. student, 2006)

Corrine Vacher. Research Scientist, Institut national de la rechenche agronomique, France. (Visitng Ph.D. student, 2005)

Sheina Sim. Graduate Student, Department of Biology, University of Notre Dame. (Undergraduate researcher, 2005)

Tanya Kossler. Graduate Student, Department of Biology, Duke University. (Undergraduate researcher, 2003)

Julliette Winterer. Associate Dean, Harrisburg Area Community College. (Sabbatical visitor, 2004)

Gretchen LeBuhn. Associate Professor, San Francisco State University. (Postdoc, 2000-2002)

Gary Krupnick. Head, Plant Conservation Unit, The Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History. (Ph.D. student, 1997)

Gordon Brown . Associate Professor, St. John’s University. (Postdoc, 1995-96)

John Lichter. Associate Professor, Bowdin College. (Undergraduate researcher, 1995-96).

Arlee Montalvo. Research Biologist, Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, University of California-Riverside. (Postdoc, 1996)

Kevin S. Richter. Research Director, SG Fertility. (Ph.D. student, 1995)

Rodney Walton. Ecologist, Fermi National Laboratory. (Postdoc, 1987-88)

Lori Bross. Manager, Core Microscopy Facility, Northern Illinois University. (M.Sc. student, 1988)

Wendy L. Gorman. Professor, Northland College. (Postdoc, 1986-87)

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