Principal Investigator - Janneke Hille Ris Lambers
Janneke HilleRisLambers
I received my Ph.D. from Duke University in 2001 (working with James S. Clark). While at Duke, my field work took me to the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory in western North Carolina (an LTER site), where I studied differences among temperate tree species in seed dispersal, seed banking and density-dependent mortality, and how those differences contribute to diversity-maintenance.  I then worked with David Tilman at the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve (another LTER site associated with University of Minnesota). There, I studied how declining diversity and species identity influences productivity and the impacts of global change on seed production. In a subsequent postdoc at University of California, Santa Barbara (working with Jonathan Levine), I focused on the factors that allowed Mediterranean annual grasses to dominate over the diverse California annual grasses and forbs as well as the contributions of niche and neutral processes to the coexistence of Serpentine annuals.  I arrived at University of Washington in 2006.

I am a plant community ecologist broadly interested in: 1) the maintenance of species diversity and 2) how global change (climate change, invasive species, nitrogen deposition, etc) alters the structure and function of plant communities.  I approach questions of interest with observational studies, manipulative experiments, and statistical modeling, and have worked in a variety of habitats (temperate forests, tall grass prairies, annual grasslands), although these days my field research primarily occurs in the temperate coniferous rainforests of Washington State. Check out the Research page on this website for more information on current projects, and the Publications page for information on current and past work.

Graduate Student - Ian Breckheimer

Ian BreckheimerHow do gene flow and local adaptation interact to define niche boundaries and geographic ranges? Answering this question is critical if we want to successfully manage ecosystems under climate change.  The climate optima of many species are expected to shift north by 700km and up in elevation by 800m over the next century due to climate change, putting tremendous pressure on plants to adapt or migrate. Despite these challenges, some recent models predict that long-distance dispersal of pollen may allow some species to rapidly adapt in place to shifting climates.  These predictions depend strongly on assumptions about phenology, gene-flow and local adaptation that are poorly constrained by data.  I intend to use molecular tools, common-garden experiments, and experimental crosses to determine how gene flow and hybridization influences current and future distributions of Mimulus guttatus and Mimulus tilingii (monkey flower species with contrasting altitudinal distributions).  

Originally from North Carolina, I’m joining the lab in 2012 after completing a masters degree with the Landscape Ecology and Biogeography group at UNC Chapel Hill.


Graduate Student - Stuart Graham

Stuart GrahamIn response to climate warming, many species are expected to expand their ranges towards the poles or higher altitudes. Although such range shifts are widely documented, the range limits of some species have not changed. This interspecies variation arises because range limits are often constrained by factors other than environmental conditions, such as weak dispersal ability and/or interactions with others species. Species interactions are likely to be particularly important for the range shifts of plant species, the growth and survival of which are strongly influenced by both mutualistic fungi and soil-borne pathogens. Specifically, the absence of appropriate mycorrhizal fungi beyond range limits may prevent range shifts but the absence of soil-borne pathogens may enhance range shifts. To understand how plant ranges will shift in a changing climate, we need to investigate how these positive and negative effects of soil biota combine to influence plant growth and survival. I am looking forward to combining growth chamber experiments and manipulative field experiments to investigate how plant-soil feedbacks may influence tree range expansion to higher altitudes in the Cascade Range of Washington.

As a native of rural Northern England, I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Bristol in the UK. I received master’s degrees from Uppsala University (Sweden) and University of Montpellier II (France) through my participation in the Erasmus Mundus Master Programme in Evolutionary Biology (MEME). After completing the final semester of my master’s program at Harvard University, I moved to the west coast where I worked as a research assistant at UC Santa Barbara. I joined the lab as a graduate student in 2017.

Kavya PradhanGraduate Student - Kavya Pradhan

Why are organisms where they are and, in the face of global changes (like changes in climatic conditions and land-use patterns), where will they go? In other words, what are the current patterns of biodiversity, how will global changes affect them, and how can we better predict and project these changes? These are the central questions that have motivated me to pursue ecological research and join the HilleRisLambers lab as a graduate student in 2017.

I’m excited to explore the ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest and find interesting questions to delve into. Born and raised in Nepal where the hills, mountains, and rain were my constant companion, I arrived stateside in 2010 and started working on my undergraduate degree at Randolph (Macon Woman’s) College in VA. I then pursued my Master's in Ecology in the Fitzpatrick Lab at the Appalachian Lab (University of Maryland Center of Environmental Sciences, MD).

Graduate Student - Meera Sethi

Meera SethiIf no man is an island, neither is any plant, insect, bird, bacterium, or other form of life on earth. From birth to death, all organisms are caught up in a complex network of interactions—both positive and negative—with other living things. For some, these relationships are important enough to play a role in determining vital outcomes like survival, reproductive success, and distribution range limits. What will happen to individual species and to communities if a warming planet induces significant shifts in biotic interactions? I
joined the Hille Ris Lambers lab with a broad interest in this question, and today my research focuses on the impacts of climate
change on the relationships between subalpine meadow plants and their insect herbivores. I am also curious about the indirect effects
herbivory may have on insect pollinators, and use a combination of
observational methods in the field and experimental approaches in the lab to quantify these phenomena.

I was born and raised in Singapore, and made my way to Seattle by way of Boston, Chicago, and Berkeley. In that time I earned a B.A. in Comparative Literature and an M.A. in Children’s Literature and Teaching, and worked as a middle school humanities teacher and a textbook editor before finally giving in to my late-blooming love of science. Before joining the HRL lab in 2015, I was a freelance science writer and a serial field technician on ecological research projects in Sweden, Alaska, and California.
My blog is here; I also tweet about science, grad school, and life in general as @gruntleme.      

Undergraduate Researcher - Kyra Kaiser

Kyra KaiserMy interest in plants started at an early age, fueled by a love of gardening and the outdoors. When I came to the University of Washington, I was immediately drawn to the natural beauty of the nearby Washington Park Arboretum. Soon after starting college, I became a volunteer tour guide at the Arboretum, leading public walks that I designed and developed based on monthly themes. Through my volunteering and classes, I realized that I could apply my interests to a career in the plant sciences. Currently, I am pursuing a major in plant biology and a minor in environmental science and resource management.

I joined the lab in fall 2016, looking for a challenging experience that complemented my coursework and exposed me to the intricacies of research. I started as a research assistant, and then delved into a phenological study of herbarium
specimens. Specifically, I examined the relationship between changes in climate over the past century and changes in the bloom time of Erythronium grandiflorum (glacier lily). I was particularly interested in the research potential of herbarium specimens, an underutilized source of data that is available for many species over a wide geographical range and
long time period. Although I discovered some problems with my data set, most of my results matched trends reported by field studies. My findings support the use of herbarium specimen data alongside traditional data sources to better
inform conservation and management decisions.

This year in the lab, I am working on a seed/seedling identification key for a selection of species native to Washington. My project stems from my interests in plant propagation and science communication. Keys for seeds and seedlings are less
common than those for mature plants, and I hope that my key will contribute to bridging this knowledge gap.

After I graduate, I intend continue my education and pursue a career in the applied plant sciences. A few of the many areas that intrigue me include plant propagation, horticulture, and restoration ecology. In addition to being a botanist, I would
like to stay involved in science education programs for the public.

Research Assistants
Adrienne Hampton
Shannon Ingebright

Alumni (grads and postdocs)

Leander Anderegg (grad: 2012-2017). Leander worked on a variety of projects while in the HilleRisLambers lab, including the physiological processes influencing range limits, the influence of macroclimate and competition on tree sensitivity to climate, the sources and consequences of trait based variation on the Leaf Economics Spectrum.

Cynthia Chang (postdoc: 2012-2014). While in the HilleRisLambers lab, Cynthia applied trait-based and phylogenetic based approaches to a plant community assembly data set from Mt. St. Helens. Cynthia is currently an assistant professor at
University of Washington, the Bothell campus (Bothell, WA).

Ailene Ettinger (grad: 2007-2013). While in the HilleRisLambers lab, Ailene studied the relative importance of climatic constraints and competitive interactions for the performance of six conifer trees at their altitudinal range limits within Mt. Rainier National Park, using dendroecological techniques and a manipulative transplant experiment to answer her questions. Ailene is currently an NSF Math-Bio Fellow at Tufts University University (Medford, MA). 

Elli Theobald (grad: 2010-2016). Elli focused on the relative importance of plant-pollinator interactions for range limits and the role of climate in driving wildlflower phenology while in the lab. Additionally, Elli spent time thinking about how to best teach climate change impacts to undergraduates, and was instrumental in helping establish MeadoWatch, our lab citizen science program. Elli is currently a postdoctoral research fellow working with BERG (the Biology Education Research
Group) in the Biology Department at University of Washington.

Kevin Ford (grad: 2008-2014). While in the HilleRisLambers lab, Kevin worked on a number of projects, including the relevant scale of microclimate variability for subalpine vegetation distributions; the relationship between tree growth across range limits, and the relative importance of climate and edaphic conditions for range expansions of treeline and subalpine plants. Kevin is currently a biometrician with the BLM (in Portland, OR).

Melanie Harsch (postdoc: 2012-2015). While in the HilleRisLambers lab, Melanie worked on range shifts of western plant species, using large databases. Melanie is currently a data analyst for NOAA.

Steve Kroiss (postdoc: 2012-2015). While in the HilleRisLambers lab, Steve worked on recruitment limitation of conifers as well as creating IPM models for Pacific silver fir. Steve is currently a data analyst for Intellectual Ventures.

Haldre Rogers (grad: 2006-2011). Haldre Rogers was co-located in the Tewksbury and HilleRisLambers labs while at the University of Washington. Haldre studied the impacts of complete bird loss on Guam on the dispersal of tree seeds (with the majority of species in Guams forests dispersed by birds) and the insect herbivory of tree seedlings (potentially controlled by bird predation). Haldre continues to work in this amazing system (see her project website), and is currently an Assistant Professor at Iowa State University.
Susan Waters (grad: 2007-2013). While in the HilleRisLambers lab, Susan studied the role of indirect, pollinator-mediated interactions between native and exotic plants in a rare and heavily invaded habitat - south Puget Sound Prairies. Susan is also the co-founder of the awesome Urban Pollination Project (a citizen science project documenting urban pollination services in Seattle). Susan is currently a rare species ecologist working with the Center of Land Management (CNLM) in Olympia, Washington.

Anna Wilson (lab manager, MeadoWatch Volunteer coordinator: 2012-2015). While in the lab, Anna coordinated our MeadoWatch program, kept the lab running, and participated in many aspects of research (including a study on frost tolerance of conifer seedlings). Anna is currently a lab technician at Cornell University.

Sylvia Yang (grad: 2006-2011). Sylvia was co-located in the Ruesink and HilleRisLambers labs while at the University of Washington. Sylvia worked on the ecosystem engineering abilities of eelgrass (Zostera marina), using observations, experimental manipulations, and modeling. Sylvia is currently a Marine Scientist at the Shannon Point Marine Center (Anacortes, WA), which is affiliated with Western Washington University (Bellingham, WA).

Undergraduate and Postgrad Alumni
Josh Fowler (Field Ecology Intern 2017, Field Crew leader 2018)
Alec Baird (Undergraduate researcher, field intern, postgraduate researcher - 2014-2017)
Jose Esparza (Doris Duke Conservation Scholar Intern 2017)
Kyle Gibbs (Field Ecology Intern 2017)
Max Haenel
(Field Ecology Intern 2017)
Jessie Hild (Undergraduate researcher, field intern - 2016-2017)
Bailey Hussung (Doris Duke Conservation Scholar Intern 2017)
Myesa Legendre-Fixx (Undergraduate researcher, field intern - 2015-2017)
Emmi Lia (field intern, crew leader, lab manager - 2015 - 2017)
Tristan O'Mara (Undergraduate researcher, field intern - 2015-2017)
Elise Pletcher (Undergraduate researcher, field intern - 2015-2017)
Teodora Rautu (Undergraduate researcher, field intern - 2015-2017)
Leila Ayad (Doris Duke Conservation Scholar Intern 2016)
Aden Kinne (Field Ecology Intern 2016)
James Martin (Doris Duke Conservation Scholar Intern 2016)
Soline Martine-Blangy (Visiting Student 2016)
Tatsu Ota (Field Ecology Intern 2016)
Alex Wall (Field Ecology Intern 2016)
Rachel Brunner (2015 Cascade Legacy Field Crew Leader)
Kaitlyn Engel (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2015)
Colin Fagan (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2015)
David Grow (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2015)
Adrienne Hampton (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2015)
Laurel Sebastian (REU 2015)
Hannah Besso (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2014)
Emily Chan (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2014)
Drew Lyons (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2014)
Lane Felker (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2013, undergraduate researcher 2013-2014)
James Lucas (2014 Mt. Rainier REU)
Gregor Siegmund (2014 Field Crew Leader, Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2013)
Hannah Wiesner (2015 Field Crew Leader, Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2014)
Cherry Chen (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2013, undergraduate researcher 2011-2013)
June Landenburger (Mt. Rainier Research Intern, undergraduate researcher 2013-2014)
Jacqui Levy (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2013)
Katy Olsen (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2013)
Sam Reed (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2013, postgrad researcher 2013-2014)
Caitlin Budd (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2012)
Kathleen Burns (summer REU: 2012)
Liam Fitzgerald (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2012)
Natasha Lozanoff (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2012)
Anna O'Brien (undergraduate researcher, lab manager: 2007-2011): currently a graduate student at UC Davis
Sara Eshe (undergraduate researcher: 2010-2011)
Melissa Winstanley (undergraduate researcher: 2009 - 2010)
Irene Weber (undergraduate researcher: 2009 - 2010): currently a graduate student at Southern Illinois University
Courtenay Ray (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2011): currently a graduate student at Arizona State University
Jennifer Rickwalt (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2011)
Mitch Piper (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2010, Crew Leader 2011-2012)
Courtney Wenneborg (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2010)
Jonathan Deschamps (undergraduate researcher, Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2007 - 2009)
Gerald Lisi (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2008, 2009)
Alan Wright (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2009)
Rachel Konrady (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2009)
Tony Krueger (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2009)
Amado Fuentes (Mt. Rainier Research Intern 2008)

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Biology Department
University of Washington
Seattle WA, 98195-1800
jhrl@uw.edu, 206-543-7389