Small Lab

Folks in the Small Lab

Steve Furches (furches[at], Ph.D. student. Steve is interested in hybridization, population genetics, and phylogenetics. For his Ph.D. he is using AFLP and cpDNA sequencing to examine the role of hybridization in shaping species- and population-level genetic and morphological variation in pitcher plants (Sarracenia). Check out Steve's web page here.

Annie Becker (abecker1[at], M.S. student. Annie is interested in plant population biology and conservation. For her M.S. she is studying the population genetics of Penstemon hirsutus and P. tenuifloris (Plantaginaceae). Penstemon hirsutus is a wide-ranging species of eastern N. America, while P. tenuifloris is restricted to the Interior Low Plateaus and adjacent areas of KY, TN, AL and MS. Annie will be using a range of molecular techniques from sequencing cpDNA and nuclear genes to AFLP and microsatellites.

Michelle Smith (msmit182[at], Ph.D. student. Michelle is interested in all aspects of fern biology. For her Ph.D. she is studying the Appalachian Asplenium complex including assessement of genetic diversity of the diploid species and the origins of tetraploid species. These data will be used to assess evidence for multiple origins of these polyploids and to examine the fate of genes duplicated by polyploidy.

Alumni of the Small Lab

Dr. Ed Lickey (elickey[at] was a Post-doctoral Research Associate in my lab working on NSF-funded projects investigating the alcohol dehydrogenase (Adh) gene family and its potential use in phylogenetic analysis in Hibiscus sect. Furcaria (Malvaceae); phylogeographic studies of Taxodium (Bald and Pond Cypress); as well as on molecular population genetics of developmental genes in Arabidopsis. Ed is now an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Biology at Bridgewater College.

Dr. Joey Shaw (joey-shaw[at], Ph.D. 2005. Joey worked on the systematics and phylogeography of the North American Plums (Prunus subgenus Prunus sect. Prunocerasus, Rosaceae) using a combination of field work, herbarium studies, and molecular phylogenetic analyses to investigate this taxonomically perplexing group. Joey is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Tennessee - Chattanooga.

Charles Winder (ctwinder[at], M.S. 2004. Charles is interested in conservation biology and studied a rare and endangered species, the Cumberland Stitchwort (Minuartia cumberlandensis, Caryophyllaceae). The Cumberland Stitchwort is an endemic to the sandstone rockhouses of the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee and Kentucky, and occurs only in small scattered populations. Charles analyzed sequence diversity of nuclear (g3pdh) and chloroplast (rpS16) regions to survey levels of genetic diversity within and among populations of the Cumberland Stitchwort, and to compare levels of diversity with a more widespread congener, Minuartia glabra.

Jerry Bresowar (gb73080[at], B.S. 2005. Jerry worked as an undergraduate researcher on the systematics of Thaspium (Apiaceae) in my lab. There are currently three recognized species of Thaspium (T. barbinode, T. pinnatifidum, T. trifoliatum), but morphological evidence suggests that a previously recognized species (T. chapmanii) may deserve recognition at the specific level. Jerry is using a combination of morphological and molecular phylogenetic analysis of nuclear-encoded Adh sequences to address this issue. Jerry is now a M.S. student at Appalachian State University

Wusheng Liu (wushengl[at], Ph.D 2007. Wusheng studied the molecular evolution of a group of floral developmental MADS-box genes (e.g., pistillata, apetala1, apetal3, agamous) in the cotton genus Gossypium (Malvaceae). In addition to exploring this important gene family beyond the confines of model systems like Arabidopsis, these data will be used to explore the effect of allopolyploidy on a gene family that is hypothesized to be under tight developmental control. Wusheng is currently a post-doc in the Dept. of Plant Sciences at the University of Tennessee.

John Beck. John is interested in plant systematics and floristics of the southeastern U.S. For his Master's work John did a floristic inventory of Prentice Cooper State Forest in Tennessee. John studied the problematic genus Sida and related genera (Malvaceae) using herbarium and field studies, as well as molecular phylogenetic analyses of both chloroplast and nuclear-encoded DNA sequences. John chose to leave the chaos of academia and is now teaching high school.

Dwayne Estes (tnplants[at], Ph.D. 2008. Dwayne is interested in floristics of the southeastern U.S., and especially of cedar glade and rock outcrop species. For his Ph.D. he studied the genus Gratiola (Plantaginaceae) using information from plant morphology, ecology, and molecular data to evaluate relationships and species boundaries within Gratiola. Dwayne is now an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Biology at Austin Peay State University.