Johanna Schmitt
jschmitt at ucdavis dot edu




Miki website
Miki Okada
Former Lab Manager
mokada at ucdavis dot edu

Miki was the lab manager of the UC Davis Schmitt lab and remains a close collaborator on a number of long-term demography and experimental evolution projects.  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 was 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 verticillata. M. 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
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 is a graduate student in the Schmitt Lab completing his dissertation work that focuses on the effects of genetic variation in life histories on transcriptomes, phenology, and fitness during climate change in A. thaliana.  With mutants, near-isogenic lines, and ecotypes, Mark uses experimental and computational techniques to evaluate performance under dynamic temperature profiles predicted under climate change.  A specific focus of his research is on the role of environment-specific life history plasticity and canalization in facilitating or hampering evolutionary trajectories.

Mireille Caton-Darby
Lab Manager
macatondarby at ucdavis dot edu

Mimi Caton-Darby is a recent UC Davis graduate with a B.S. major in genetics and genomics and minor in psychology.  Mimi joined the Schmitt lab in 2015 as an undergraduate research assistant and now supervises and coordinates experimental work in the lab.  Mimi is interested in exploring the role of genetics and environmental cues on plant survival and local adaptation.


Brian Gonzalez
Undergraduate Research Assistant