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Faculty Recruiting Graduate Students

Beliow is a list of faculty members who recruit graduate students in the Department of Integrative Biology at Michigan State University. Please note that some of our faculty, designated with asterisks on this page, accept students in collaboration with other faculty members with the expectation that the students will do rotations in two or more labs in their first year. Potential students and these faculty members should communicate about potential ways to structure the lab rotations.

Kelly Aho photo

Kelly Aho

Assistant Professor-Tenure System
Joint with Earth and Environmental Sciences

I am an aquatic biogeochemist interested in carbon and nitrogen cycling in inland waters. I aim to understand freshwater ecosystems as both 1) biogeochemically important ecosystems and 2) connectors of other ecosystem components (e.g., land, ocean, atmosphere). I am particularly interested in greenhouse gas emissions from streams and rivers. This research is relevant to aquatic ecology, carbon and nitrogen cycle models, and greenhouse gas budgets.


Boughman, Janette

Janette Boughman

Professor - Tenure System
 (517) 353-8636

There are somewhere between 2 and 10 million living species on earth – possibly more. What processes create this incredible diversity? The deep and difficult question of how new species form has challenged biologists for a long time. This question is at the heart of my research program. A unifying theme of my work is to understand how an organisms’ behavior generates selection that results in diversification, and how diverse behavior itself evolves under the influence of multiple forms of selection. Behavioral traits are thus the primary phenotypes of interest, but can also be the agents of evolutionary change.


Braasch, Ingo

Ingo Braasch **

Assistant Professor - Tenure System
(517) 432-3484

The Braasch Lab addresses fundamental questions about the genomic and developmental basis of major transitions during the course of vertebrate evolution. We study genomic and morphological novelties in vertebrates at the levels of genome structure, gene family dynamics, and gene regulation and combine comparative genomics with analyses of molecular evolution and developmental genetic approaches using zebrafish (Danio rerio), spotted gar (Lepisosteus oculatus) and other fishes as model systems.


Anne Bronikowski

Anne Bronikowski

Professor - Tenure System
Research Interests: Life-history genetics, evolutionary ecology, comparative physiology. 
The Bronikowski Lab studies the evolution and ecology of life histories in wild vertebrate populations, with emphasis on late-life phenotypes and aging. We integrate over the disciplines of genetics, physiology, and demography to understand the relative contributions of genotype and environment to phenotypic variation. And we work at several levels of biological organization from chromatin, gene regulation, cellular stress physiology, whole-organism performance, and population vital rates.

Dyer, Fred

Fred Dyer

Professor - Tenure System
(517) 432-9818
Animal behavior; learning and decision-making in insects.

Eisthen, Heather

Heather Eisthen**

Professor - Tenure System
(517) 353-1953


Our research concerns the causes of evolutionary changes in the nervous system and the behavioral consequences of these changes. We are focusing on evolution and detection of pheromones in salamanders.


Evans, Sarah

Sarah Evans

Associate Professor - Tenure System
I am interested in how microbial communities respond to their environment, and how this response affects ecosystems. I am particularly interested in responses to predicted changes in rainfall patterns (e.g. more drought and flood), and how microorganisms will influence nitrogen cycling, greenhouse gas production, and agricultural sustainability under these new climate regimes. My lab uses a combination of DNA-based methods, culturing, biogeochemical analyses, modeling and field manipulations. We also ask fundamental questions about how microorganisms assemble into communities, respond and influence host organisms (e.g. rhizosphere or gut microbiome), and adapt to a new environment. 

Fitzpatrick, Sarah W

Sarah Fitzpatrick

Assistant Professor - Tenure System

I am broadly interested in evolution, ecology, and conservation of natural populations. Research in my lab combines genomic tools, mark-recapture methods, and experiments to study how interactions between gene flow, drift, and selection affect population dynamics and diversity patterns. I am especially interested in gaining a mechanistic understanding of genetic rescue, which is the increase in population growth caused by the infusion of new genetic variation, and in implementing this tool in conservation and management. 


Gallant, Jason

Jason Gallant**

Associate - Tenure System
(517) 884-7756

We are interested in the origin and diversification of novel phenotypic and behavioral traits involved in animal communication signals, as they relate to signal diversity, mate choice, and speciation.  Our model system of choice is the mormyrid electric fish, which enables a highly integrative approach to these questions, combining behavior, physiology, developmental biology, population genetics, and genomes.


Ganz, Julia

Julia Ganz**

Assistant Professor - Tenure System
(517) 432-0733

The goal of our research is to understand how stem cells generate a diverse and complex nervous system using zebrafish as a model system. My laboratory addresses this question focusing on the largest part of the peripheral nervous system – the enteric nervous system (ENS). Our research aims to answer the fundamental question of how the generation of ENS cell lineages is regulated during normal development, in situations that model human disease, and under regenerating conditions. We will not only uncover cellular, genetic, and molecular mechanisms underlying cell fate determination but also contribute to developing therapeutic approaches using stem cells to repair ENS diseases.


Haddad, Nicholas

Nicholas Haddad

Professor - Tenure System
I am the Director of the Long-Term Ecological Research site located at Kellogg Biological Station. I conduct large ecological experiments to test the effects of habitat loss on ecological systems. I am particularly interested in how to reverse negative effects of habitat loss by reconnecting and diversifying working landscapes. Much of my research focuses on insects, including on the rarest butterfly species in the world.

Heath-Heckman, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Heath-Heckman**

Assistant Professor - Tenure System
Bacterial symbioses are nearly ubiquitous in the animals, and can be a driving force behind host evolution and development.  My lab studies the genetic, cellular, and molecular basis of beneficial host-microbe interactions using Euprymna scolopes, the Hawaiian bobtail squid, and its luminous symbiont Vibrio fischeri as a model system. In addition, my lab has a great interest in EvoDevo in the Spiralia, including in annelids such as leeches and the cephalopod molluscs. 

Holekamp, Kay

Kay Holekamp

University Distinguished Professor - Tenure System; Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Program Director
(517) 432-3691

Research in my laboratory investigates how social, ecological, and endocrine variables interact during an individual`s early development to influence its subsequent behavior and its reproductive success as an adult. 


Janzen, Fredric

Fredric Janzen

Professor - Tenure System & Director of KBS
(269) 671-2341
Our research interests involve the study of ecology and evolution, including mechanistic work at the molecular and organismal levels, field studies that document the importance of phenotypic variation, and a comparative view of the long-term consequences of this variation. To do so, we often integrate molecular and quantitative genetic techniques with experimental laboratory and field studies. Using these conceptual approaches in concert with comparative techniques enables us to assess important biological issues with an emphasis on elucidating adaptive processes and solving conservation concerns. Our focal study organisms are usually reptiles, especially turtles.


Chris Klausmeier

Professor - Tenure System
Our laboratory group seeks to uncover the general principles that organize ecological communities and ecosystems. We focus on phytoplankton and zooplankton, the microscopic plants and animals at the base of lake and ocean food webs. Plankton communities are an ideal focus for this work, because they show striking patterns in space, time, and organization, and are easily manipulated in the lab and field. From a practical point of view, freshwater plankton are important determinants of water quality and marine phytoplankton play major roles in global biogeochemical cycles and perform about half the planet’s primary productivity.

Jim Moran photo

James Moran

Associate Professor - Tenure System
Joint with Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences

I specialize in using detailed analyses of light stable isotope (primarily 13C, 15N, and 18O) abundances to address scientific questions related to biogeochemistry, microbial ecology, animal ecology, and chemical forensics. I have a specific interest in understanding nutrient exchange processes within the rhizosphere and the overall role that spatial organization plays in driving relevant plant, microbial, and geochemical interactions. To help provide new insights to scientific investigations, I also enjoy instrument and method development efforts with recent focus on spatially resolved approaches for making isotope, protein, and elemental compositional analyses over solid and soil surfaces.


Shah, Alisha

Alisha Shah

Assistant Professor - Tenure System
Research interests: Ecological physiology, evolutionary ecology, conservation, species response to climate change, ectotherms.
In my lab, we are broadly interested in how ectotherms respond to their thermal environments. Our research is grounded in evolutionary ecology and focuses on questions at the organismal, genetic, and community levels. Our goals are to measure eco-physiological patterns in nature, understand the physiological and genetic architecture underlying those patterns and finally, predict how species and communities respond to change.  

Wetzel, William

William Wetzel

Assistant Professor - Tenure System
The Wetzel Lab studies the role of variability in ecology. Our work focuses on how changing levels of biological diversity and climate variability influence plants and insects. We work in natural and agricultural ecosystems and strive to answer fundamental questions with implications for environmental issues. We strive to link patterns at population and community scales with mechanisms at the organismal scale. The lab does this by using mathematical and statistical modeling to integrate field and lab data. We also place an emphasis on using meta-analysis, synthesis, and global collaboration to search for general answers to fundamental ecological questions.

Zarnetske, Phoebe

Phoebe Zarnetske

Associate Professor - Tenure System
(517) 355-7671

The Zarnetske Spatial and Community Ecology Lab uses a combination of observational data, experiments, and statistical and theoretical modeling to connect observed patterns of biodiversity and community composition with underlying mechanisms across local to global scales. We aim to understand and predict how the composition and geographic distributions of species and ecological communities are affected by biotic interactions, species invasions, biophysical feedbacks, geodiversity, climate change, and land-use change. A central goal is to understand which species and ecological communities are most sensitive and/or resilient to climate change, and in turn act as "biotic multipliers" of climate change through their outsized impacts on ecological communities.


Zipkin, Elise

Elise Zipkin

Associate Professor - Tenure System
(517) 884-8039
The Zipkin Quantitative Ecology Lab develops statistical models to unravel some of the world’s most alarming natural mysteries at the intersection of ecology, conservation biology, and the management of biodiversity. We study the status, trends and dynamics of populations and communities – insects, birds, amphibians, fish, reptiles, and mammals. Our mission: to understand and predict how and why nature is changing, the consequences of those changes, and what, if any, action is recommended.