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Trichome Ecology

My PhD dissertation focuses on the ecology and evolution of complex trichomes in the plant family Loasaceae. 

This diverse and geographically widespread group bears some of the most intricate hairs seen in any plant lineage, including barbed, branched, needlelike, glandular, and stinging trichomes that differ across closely related species. Over the past century, botanists have marveled at their remarkable ability to trap insects and small mammals, their complex biomineralization, and their nettle-like stinging hairs.


I am exploring the evolution and functional role of Loasaceae trichomes through the lens of plant-herbivore interactions. How does the presence, length, and color of stinging hairs vary across species? Does insect capture via barbed trichomes increase plant fitness? How do members of this family balance defense and recruitment of mutualists? This research will address longstanding hypotheses about trichome function by integrating natural history data, detailed microscopy, modern comparative methods, and common garden experiments.


This research is in progress, so stay tuned!

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