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headshot of Thomas Powell

Thomas Powell

Assistant Professor

Biological Sciences

Background

Powell's research broadly focuses on understanding the origin and maintenance of biodiversity. He is interested in the role of ecological adaptation in the formation of new species and the role of on-going evolutionary processes in the response of ecological communities to global change. His lab takes an integrative approach to investigating how ecological processes, biogeography, physiological systems, genetic variation, and genomic architecture interact during the origin of species and adaptation to novel niches and changing environments. The majority of his lab’s work is focused on the most diverse groups of animals on Earth: plant- feeding insects and their specialist parasitoids.

Powell's lab has a special interest in understanding the evolution of life history timing from two perspectives. First, divergence in life history timing may be a potent driver of speciation. Second, altered seasonal timing is expected to be one of the primary stressors of global climate change on ecological communities. Work in his lab seeks to leverage divergent life history timing in cases of on-going speciation to better understand how seasonal timing evolves in insect populations, whether natural populations are likely to have the capacity for evolutionary responses to climate change, and to draw connections between this complex trait and variation in the genome.

Education

  • PhD, University of Notre Dame
  • BS, Shepherd University

Research Interests

  • Ecological speciation
  • Adaptation to environmental change
  • Coevolution
  • Evolution and physiology of life history timing in insects

Research Profile