Primary Investigator

Graduate Students

Post-doctoral Fellows


Deane Bowers (Ph.D.  University of Massachusetts, 1979)

A major part of my research program focuses on plant defensive chemistry and its importance for herbivores and the natural enemies of these herbivores.  I am especially interested in how variation in plant compounds is important for insects that sequester these compounds and how this plant variation and its consequences for herbivores affect interactions with natural enemies, both predators and parasitoids. My research has both ecological and evolutionary components:  how do the dynamics of these interactions affect ecological relationships among the participants, and how do these interactions evolve? 

I am also interested in how human-induced changes in the environment can affect insect communities and insect-plant-natural enemy interactions.  One example of this is the grasshopper research described elsewhere on this page.  Another example is research investigating factors affecting the success of invasive plants and efforts at using biological control to reduce the impact of these plants.  A third is studies to document changes in insect community diversity change with habitat, time, and climate.


Evan Lampert (Ph.D. 2007, North Dakota State University)

Parasitoids rely on their hosts as the sole source of resources needed to develop and shelter.  The suitability of these hosts can be altered depending on the degree to which they have specialized upon their diet.  I study the interaction among host plant secondary compounds or species, generalist and specialist caterpillars, and their parasitoids.  Understanding these interactions elucidates how communities are structured, and is important when planning and implementing biological control programs.


Cesar Nufio (Ph.D. 2001, University of Arizona)

I work closely with the Entomology Section of the CU Museum and am currently working on several projects that utilize collections data to understand how environmental changes can affect the biology, distributions and phenology of different insect groups.  My major focus is on surveying grasshopper communities in the Colorado Front Range to understand the effects of regional climate change on grasshopper phenology, distribution, and life history traits.  more information.


Natalie Robinson

Butterflies are highly sensitive to environmental change, and are thus excellent species to study for indications of overall habitat health.  I am looking at population richness and diversity, and the presence or absence of rare or sensitive species of butterflies in 6 habitat types around the City of Boulder.  The data collected will be used for a long-term comparison of population changes and distributions for each survey area over the course of the last six years.  This information will provide a valuable tool in helping the City of Boulder assess the health of each habitat type surveyed, and to determine proper conservation and management techniques for these unique environments

Susan Whitehead

I am broadly interested in the evolutionary ecology of multi-species interactions, with a focus on how plant chemical traits mediate the ecological and evolutionary outcomes of plant/animal interactions.  Specifically, my dissertation research has focused on: 1) the importance of fruit chemical traits in mediating fruit/frugivore interactions; and 2) the importance of multiple selection pressures (from seed dispersers and seed predators/pathogens) and constraints (phylogenetic and physiological) in determining the evolution of fruit chemical traits.  I have worked with several plant study systems and their associated frugivores, including Lonicera spp. (Caprifoliaceae), Hamelia patens (Rubiaceae), and Piper spp. (Piperaceae).  Currently I am focusing on how intra- and interspecific variation in fruit chemical traits in the genus Piper affects interactions with various classes of frugivores.

Carolina Quintero

My research interests are centered on the role of plant chemical defenses as mediators of plant-herbivore and herbivore-predator interactions. Currently, I’m working on identifying how plant age can alter these plant-herbivore-predator interactions.

        Specifically, my PhD. dissertation is assessing how plant ontogeny influences plant-animal interactions at three levels: (1) changes in constitutive and induced plant defense strategies, (2) changes in herbivore host-plant selection and performance, and (3) variation in predators’ searching success and prey selection as a function of their herbivores’ host-plant age.  My research involves a combination of greenhouse and field experiments using Plantago lanceolata (Plantaginaceae) as a model system. 


Undergraduate Students

Alex Hill

My research project is looking at how sequestration of iridoid glycosides varies between two co-occurring species of checkerspot butterflies that use the same host plant species.


Angela Knerl

My research project examines the effects of host plant species on sequestration of iridoid glycosides by the White Peacock butterfly, Anartia jatrophe.



The Deane Bowers Lab Group

at the University of Colorado in Boulder


Caitlin Kelly

I am interested in using Lepidopteran model systems to answer questions in chemical and behavioral ecology.  I have previous experience studying the male sex pheromone of an Arctiid moth (Utetheisa ornatrix) and utilizing chemical methods to elucidate the nature of a courtship signal. 


Crystal Boyd

As a graduate student in Museum Studies, I am interested in collection management of natural history objects. I am intrigued by the ways specimens and their label data can inform our understandings of ecology, evolution, biogeography, and public health. The University of Colorado Museum of Natural History has an excellent collection of bees, which I am using to inform my Master’s thesis, “The Bumblebees of Colorado: A Field Guide.” After graduating in May 2011, I hope to pursue my professional goal of becoming an entomology collection manager at a research university with a public natural history museum.