Get to know our graduate community

Welcome! This is the site for the Graduate Student Association (GSA) in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) at Cornell.

The graduate students in EEB study a diverse range of taxa and subjects in evolution and ecology.  On this website, you will find information about our research (see our photos), as well as the social and academic events that help us stay connected as a community. Please explore and come back as we publish new updates! We’ll keep you apprised of recent events, and spotlight a member of our community once a month.

 

Graduate Student Spotlight: Katie Holmes

 

How do indirect interactions structure plant-insect communities and drive the evolution of plant traits? This is the question I am excited to pursue with my thesis research. In the common evening primrose (Oenothera biennis), I study the function of flowers in an asexual species. In the absence of a need for pollinators, does the genetic variation provided by a low level of outcrossing maintain floral display? Or do flowers convey a fitness benefit by attracting predators, a form of indirect defense against herbivores? In another project with spotted Joe Pye weed and white boneset (both of Eupatoriinae), I am interested in how competition among neighboring plants is impacted by associational susceptibility and resistance to herbivores. Understanding the relative strength of such neighbor effects could help explain the ecology and evolution of plant growth and defense traits.

 

Outside of my work in the lab and the field, I also engage in community outreach and science education. By doing so, I hope to increase public access and understanding of science. From creating a course on insect communication for second-graders, to guiding high-school students through their science projects, outreach has expanded my own knowledge and communication skills.