Schlichting Lab Research Crew

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Dr. Carl Schlichting, our Fearless Leader


My research revolves around understanding the forces that shape the evolution of the phenotype, from the perspective of the reaction norm (i.e., the range of phenotypes that will be produced by a genotype when it is exposed to different environments). Experimentally I have studied the morphological responses of species and populations to environmental variability (their phenotypic plasticity), but I have become equally interested in the other side of the coin, namely what evolutionary forces operate to restrict the expression of phenotypic variation (the lack of plasticity, i.e., canalization). Some selective factors will favor plasticity, other forces favor canalization. The reaction norm that we observe has been forged by the balance of forces in this tension zone. There are a number of factors that impinge on the outcome: the predictability of environmental change, the ability to sense the change (or its correlates), the spatial or temporal nature of variability, and the scale at which it is perceived (e.g., within an individual's lifetime). We are currently working with the genus Pelargonium in South Africa to understand these issues better.

Graduate Students

Colin J. Carlson


Colin is a second-semester Master's student. After completing his undergraduate work with a B.S. in EEB and a B.A. in Environmental Studies from UConn in 2012, Colin returned to the lab to work on a number of different projects pertaining to adaptation of ecosystems and societies to climate change. His previous work has focused on understanding the ecological implications of phenotypic plasticity for adaptation to climate change in the South African genus Pelargonium. His research has also focused on a number of broader social issues, including the relationship between religion and conservation (in the intersection formed by sacred forests); the protection and legal ownership of traditional ecological knowledge; and resilience of social and ecological systems to climate change as a function of cultural stability. His current work focuses on identifying the factors that drive species to extinction, using historical data to reconstruct actual extinction events, and thereby identify the factors that caused them.

James Mickley

Bio needed.

Katherine Shaw

Bio needed.

Timothy Moore

Bio needed.


Eldar Kurtovic (Spring 2013)

Mentors: C. Carlson, J. Mickley

Project title: Developmental instability and bet-hedging strategies across the Polemoniaceae.

Eldar is an undergraduate senior at the Storrs campus. In my past, he has worked as a lab assistant at Eastern Connecticut State University on DNA fragments of local and hybrid Phragmites. In Spring 2013, Eldar will work with Colin Carlson and James Mickley on a research project still in development. His research interests are predominantly based on neurobiology and the functions of the cerebrum and diseases associated within it. During the summer, he spends most of his time volunteering in Hartford Hospital and Hospital for Special Care working with patients mobility exercises and showing them new equipments and replacing malfunctioning items.

Kali Block (Fall 2012-)

Mentors: K. Burgio (Rubega Lab), C. Carlson

Project title: Georeferencing extinct species' ranges to reconstruct extinction processes.

John Boak (Spring 2013)

Mentors: C. Carlson

Project title: Modeling adaptation to climate change in New England's salt marshes.

Michael Berkley (Spring 2013)

Mentors: C. Carlson

Project title: Ethnobotany and bioprospecting: how many modern pharmaceuticals were developed unethically?