Suman Neupane

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Hedyotis articularis, a shrubby member from South India

About me

I am a doctoral student in Paul Lewis's lab. I study the plant genus Hedyotis L. and its allies from the large tropical Coffee family (Rubiaceae). I am interested in studies related taxonomy, evolution of morphological traits, and phylognetics & comparative methods in plant systems.


Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Connecticut
75 North Eagleville Road
Storrs, CT 06269
Office: TLS 162
Google scholar profile:
Academic Advisor: Dr. Paul Lewis Paul Lewis's lab


Debia ovatifolia, a herbaceous member from Thailand
My dissertation research project addresses three broad but related issues; phylogeny, evolution of secondary woodiness and historical biogeography of the Hedyotis-Oldenlandia complex in the plant family Rubiaceae with special focus on Asian-Pacific lineages. The Hedyotis-Oldenlandia is a highly debated group in the Rubiaceae family with no strong consensus to date on its generic delimitations. By building a robust phylogeny using DNA and incorporating data from morphology and anatomy my project seeks to resolve the long-standing taxonomic debate within the group that has existed since the time of Linnaeus. In an attempt to build a well-resolved phylogeny in the large group such as Hedyotis-Oldenlandia complex (ca. 600 spp.), I am also investigating the issues of data combinability (e.g. of different gene regions from targeted sequencing method), effect of taxonomic sampling and missing data, and the resulting systematic bias in the phylogeny inferences under Bayesian framework.
Dimetia scandens, a climber species from Nepal Himalaya
A few lineages within Hedyotis-Oldenlandia complex (e.g. Hedyotis s.s.) are characterized by having secondarily derived wood, a narrow and montane distribution and a high species diversity compared to their herbaceous sister lineages. The other goal of my study is to understand the correlates of the secondary woodiness, differential rate of evolution and diversification between herbaceous and woody clades and ancient dispersal patterns of this group into and inside of tropical Asia.
Hedyotis dendroides, a woody member from Sri Lanka


2014- present: Doctoral candidate, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, USA
2008– 2013: Graduate student, Old Dominion University, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Norfolk, VA USA. Advisor: Dr. Timothy J. Motley [1]
2007: Master of Science in Botany, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur, Kathmandu, Nepal
2001: BS in Biology, Amrit Science College, Tribhuvan University, Nepal

Grants, Awards and Scholarships

2016: Doctoral dissertation fellowship, The Graduate School, University of Connecticut
2012-2014: National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant
2012: American Society of Plant Taxonomist Graduate Student Research Grant
2012: Workshop on Advances in Multiple Sequence Alignment and Phylogeny Estimation. Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC
2010: ASPT Travel Grant for Botany 2010, Providence, RI, American Society of Plant Taxonomy
2009: Delzie Demaree Travel Award, Missouri Botanical Garden Annual Botanical Symposium
2008-2012: Dominion Scholar in Ecological Sciences, Old Dominion University


  • Vincent S F T Merckx, Kasper P Hendriks, Kevin K Beentjes, Constantijn B Mennes, Leontine E Becking, Katja T C A Peijnenburg, Aqilah Afendy, Nivaarani Arumugam, Hugo de Boer, Alim Biun, Matsain M Buang, Ping-Ping Chen, Arthur Y C Chung, Rory Dow, Frida A A Feijen, Hans Feijen, Cobi Feijen-van Soest, József Geml, René Geurts, Barbara Gravendeel, Peter Hovenkamp, Paul Imbun, Isa Ipor, Steven B Janssens, Merlijn Jocqué, Heike Kappes, Eyen Khoo, Peter Koomen, Frederic Lens, Richard J Majapun, Luis N Morgado, Suman Neupane, Nico Nieser, Joan T Pereira, Homathevi Rahman, Suzana Sabran, Anati Sawang, Rachel M Schwallier, Phyau-Soon Shim, Harry Smit, Nicolien Sol, Maipul Spait, Michael Stech, Frank Stokvis, John B Sugau, Monica Suleiman, Sukaibin Sumail, Daniel C Thomas, Jan van Tol, Fred Y Y Tuh, Bakhtiar E Yahya, Jamili Nais, Rimi Repin, Maklarin Lakim, Menno Schilthuizen: Evolution of endemism on a young tropical mountain. Nature 524, no. 7565 (2015): 347-350.
  • Neupane, S., Dessein, S. Wikstorm, N., Lewis, P. O., Long, Chunlin, Bremer, B., & Motley, T. J. 2015. The Hedyotis-Oldenlandia complex (Rubiaceae: Spermacoceae) in Asia and the Pacific: phylogeny revisited with new generic combinations. Taxon 64 (2): 299-322.
  • Wikstorm, N.,Neupane, S., Karehed, J., Motley, T. J., & Bremer, B. 2013. Phylogeny of Hedyotis L. (Spermacoceae, Rubiaceae): Redefining a Complex Asian-Pacific Assemblage. Taxon 62 (2): 357-374.
  • Neupane, S., Dessein, S, Motley, T. J. 2009. The Hedyotis-Oldenlandia-Kohautia complex (Rubiaceae) in Nepal: A study of fruit, seed and pollen characters and their taxonomic significance. Edinburgh Journal of Botany 66: 371-390.


2008. Neupane, S., Dessein, S., Motley, T. J. The Hedyotis-Oldenlandia-Kohautia complex (Rubiaceae) in Nepal: A study of fruit, seed and pollen characters and their taxonomic significance. IV International Rubiaceae (Gentianales) Conference, Xalapa, Mexico.
2009. Neupane, S., Dessein, Motley, T. J. 2009. The Hedyotis-Oldenlandia-Kohautia complex (Rubiaceae) in Nepal: A study of fruit, seed and pollen characters and their taxonomic significance. BGSO spring symposium, Old Dominion University.
2010. Neupane, S. & Motley, T. J. Search for “true Hedyotis” (Rubiaceae) in Asia and its biogeographic implications. Botany 2010, Providence, RI, USA.
2010. Neupane S. & Motley, T. J. Phylogeny of Asian-pacific Shrubby Hedyotis L. (Spermacoceae) and Preliminary Evaluations of Biogeographic Patterns, Insular Woodiness, and Fruit Evolution. The Fifth International Rubiaceae and Gentianales Conference Stockholm, Sweden.
2011. Neupane, S. & Motley, T. J. Hedyotis L. (Rubiaceae) in Asia-Pacific: Phylogeny, Biogeography and Character Evolution. Annual BGSO spring symposium, Old Dominion University, VA, USA.
2011. Neupane, S. & Motley, T. J. Phylogeny of Asian Hedyotis L (Rubiaceae): A model group for studying historical biogeography of Asian flora and evolution of secondary woodiness in insular settings. Minzu University, Beijing, China (Invited talk).
2013. Neupane, S. & Motley, T. J. Origin and diversification of Hedyotis L. (Rubiaceae) in Asia. Annual BGSO spring symposium, Old Dominion University, VA, USA.
2013. Neupane, S. & Motley, T. J. New generic combinations within Hedyotis-Oldenlandia complex (Rubiaceae). Botany 2013, New Orleans, USA.
2013. Neupane, S. Origin and diversification of Hedyotis-Oldenlandia complex (Rubiaceae) in Asia and the Pacific. Naturalis Biodiversity Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands.
2014. Neupane, S. Evolution of secondary woodiness in Hedyotis-Oldenlandia complex (Rubiaceae) in Asia and the Pacific. Evolution 2014, Raleigh, NC, USA.

Teaching Experience

Fall 2014: Teaching Assistant, Botany, University of Connecticut
Spring 2014: Teaching Assistant, Foundations in Biology, University of Connecticut
Spring 2010-Spring 2013: Teaching Assistant, General Biology, Old Dominion University
Spring 2009: Teaching Assistant, Botany, Old Dominion University
Fall 2009: Teaching Assistant, Plant Physiology, Old Dominion University
2006-2007: Academic In-charge, Serene Valley School (now Apex Life School), Kathmandu, Nepal
2005-2006: High School Biology teacher, Serene Valley School (now Apex Life School), Kathmandu, Nepal

Field Experience

Nepal: Southern plains (2003, 2004, 2005), Central Eastern Himalaya region (2001, 2004, 2008); Mexico (2008); Sri Lanka (2009); India (2009); S.E United States: Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia; China: Beijing (2011), Guangdong & Hainan (2012); Thailand (2012); Cambodia (2012); India (2012); Nepal (2012)