Current Members


schmittJohanna Schmitt
jschmitt at ucdavis dot edu




Miki website

Miki Okada
Lab Manager
mokada at ucdavis dot edu

Miki is the lab manager of the UC Davis Schmitt lab. She joined the lab in the summer of 2013 and is interested in plant evolutionary genetics. She did postdoctoral research on the population genetics of invasive species and herbicide resistance in agricultural weeds at UC Davis, and was involved in a genetic linkage mapping and a genetic diversity study in switchgrass at USDA ARS. She is interested in understanding how population history, population structure, and genetics and ecology of adaptation shape genetic diversity within and among populations.

Joe Hereford
jhereford at ucdavis dot edu

Joe is a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow, and is interested in cool plant adaptations, specifically complex adaptations like C4 photosynthesis. After working on microevolutionary aspects of natural selection and local adaptation, Joe began to wonder how the evolutionary processes that at times seem so inscrutable and inefficient, can give rise to complex adaptations at the macroevolutionary scale. In the Schmitt Lab, Joe will be disentangling the microevolutionary processes that drive evolution of C4 photosynthesis using the C3-C4 intermediate Mollugo verticillataM. verticillata occurs in a wide range of climatic habitats, spanning the conditions that favor C3 and C4 plants. He will be conducting experiments to determine the extent of adaptation and phenotypic plasticity in that than confer C4-like physiology in this species. This project is conducted in collaboration with David Ackerly’s Lab at UC Berkeley.

Alejandra Martinez Berdeja
amberdeja at ucdavis dot edu

Alejandra is a postdoc interested in how plants adapt to variable environments and to environmental cues occurring at different time and spatial scales. She did her PhD on the ecological and evolutionary significance of delaying seed dispersal as a strategy to cope with unpredictable rainfall and seasonal rain cues in the desert. In the Schmitt Lab, she will study germination traits in Arabidopsis thaliana ecotypes to understand adaptation to different climate conditions.

Kathleen G. Ferris
Center for Population Biology Post-doctoral Fellow
kgferris at ucdavis dot edu

I am broadly interested in the genetics of adaptation and speciation. As the Center for Population Biology Post-doctoral Fellow I am currently studying the genetic basis, development, and adaptive significance of population level vs. phenotypically plastic variation in leaf shape along an altitudinal cline in the annual plant Mimulus laciniatus. In my previous post-docoral work in Michael Nachman’s Lab I examined the genomic and phenotypic basis of environmental adaptation in the house mouse, Mus domesticus, across the Americas. I used population genomic scans for selection to examine the genetic basis of climate adaptation across a latitudinal cline in Western North America and quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping in a large F3 hybrid population to understand the genetic basis of adaptive phenotypic divergence between wild mice from Brazil and upstate New York. During my PhD work in John Willis’ Lab I studied the genetics of adaptation to granite outcrop environments in the Mimulus guttatus species complex. Mimulus laciniatus occurs in the middle of dry, exposed granite outcrops from mid to high elevation in the Sierra Nevada, CA. Just meters away the ancestral M. guttatus grows in adjacent seeps and streams. I investigated the genetic architecture and adaptive significance of differences in flowering time, mating system, and leaf shape between M. laciniatus and M. guttatus using a combination of QTL mapping, next gen sequencing, and reciprocal transplants with F4 hybrid individuals in the field.


Mark Taylor
Graduate Student
maktaylor at ucdavis dot edu

Mark Taylor recently graduated from the University of South Carolina, Columbia, with a BS/BA in biology and history and is working in the Kresovich lab under Geoff Morris. Mark’s current project involves developing models to detect genomic markers of climate adaptation in sorghum accessions across Africa and Asia. He is interested in the genomics of life history evolution and the environmental and population pressures that constrain and drive life history adaptation. He cannot wait to join the Schmitt lab at Davis in the fall!



Elena Suglia
Junior Specialist
esuglia at ucdavis dot edu

Elena is a recent graduate from Brown University. Her background is in community ecology in marine and pollinator systems, and she is excited to be starting work in the Schmitt lab and expanding her knowledge about plant evolutionary genetics. Much of her work is focused on a project exploring life history variation in the plant Streptanthus tortuosus across latitudinal and elevational gradients, in the context of its potential to adapt to climate change.


Mireille Caton-Darby
Undergraduate Research Assistant



Brian Gonzalez
Undergraduate Research Assistant



Felicia Wong
Undergraduate Research Assistant


Jasneek Attwal

Undergraduate Research Assistant


Helena Bayat

Undergraduate Research Assistant



Joshua Leung
Undergraduate Research Assistant