OEB brings together more than 75 faculty, providing critical mass needed for effective graduate training. Our faculty are drawn from 10 departments at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and from across the Five College System (Amherst, Hampshire, Mt. Holyoke, and Smith Colleges), as well as from off-campus institutions. OEB faculty are engaged in cutting edge research, with research clusters in four broad areas:

Animal Behavior

Behavioral ecology, communication, learning


Community ecology, population ecology, landscape ecology, conservation biology

Evolutionary Biology

Evolution, phylogenetics, population genetics, molecular evolution

Organismal Biology

Physiology, morphology, paleontology

All OEB faculty are listed below. To help applicants to our graduate program locate a faculty sponsor, the faculty list can be filtered by four broad research areas.  A list of faculty who are activiely seeking graduate students can be found HERE

Name Research Interests
Lynn Adler

Professor, Biology

Ecology and evolution of insect-plant interactions

R. Craig Albertson

Professor of Biology, University of Massachusetts

Evolutionary Developmental Biology

Dominique R. Alfandari

Professor of Developmental Biology, University of Massachusetts

Cell migration in Developmental systems

Courtney C. Babbitt

Associate Professor, Department of Biology

Evolutionary Genomics

Madelaine Bartlett

Associate Professor, Biology

Evolution of plant development; Molecular evolution

Jesse Bellemare

Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, Smith College

Plant ecology, biogeography and evolution

Jeffrey L. Blanchard

Associate Professor, Department of Biology

Microbial cellular and community networks; influence of environmental change on the evolution of molecular processes; systems biology; bioinformatics

Patricia Brennan

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, Mt. Holyoke College

Evolutionary consequences of interactions between behavior, morphology and the environment

Jill L. Bubier

Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science, Mount Holyoke College

Carbon cycling in northern wetlands

John P. Buonaccorsi

Professor Emeritus of Mathematics and Statistics

Statistical theory, methods and applcations, Quantitative ecology

Ana Caicedo

Professor, Biology

Evolutionary genomics of adaptation and divergence in wild, weedy and crop plant species

Erin Conlon

Associate Professor of Mathematics and Statistics

Statistical methods in genomics and bioinformatics

Graziella V. DiRenzo

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Department of Environmental Conservation

Assistant Unit Leader of Wildlife

U. S. Geological Survey

MA Cooperative Research Unit

Quantitative ecology, population dynamics, applied ecology

Robert L. Dorit

Professor of Biological Sciences, Smith College

Molecular evolution; comparative & statistical approaches to molecular & genome evolution

Gerald B. Downes

Professor, Department of Biology

Development and function of spinal cord networks

Lillian Fritz–Laylin

Associate Professor of Biology

Quantitative Evolutionary Cell Biology

John G. Gibbons

Assistant Professor of Food Science

Genomics, Evolution, Bioinformatics

Brigitte M. Holt

Associate Professor of Anthropology

Biocultural evolution of the genus Homo, functional morphology and biomechanics of the appendicular skeleton, paleoecology, forager ecology, Old World prehistory, Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene ecology, bone mass and physical activity.

Duncan J. Irschick

Professor, Department of Biology

Functional Morphology, Evolution, and Behavioral Ecology

Elizabeth M. Jakob

Professor, Biology Department

Animal behavior, especially perception, learning, and social behavior

Norman A. Johnson

Adjunct Research Assistant Professor, Biology & Environmental Conservation

Evolutionary genetics, evolution of development

Jason M. Kamilar

Associate Professor of Anthropology

Comparative biology of primates and other mammals

Laura A. Katz

Elsie Damon Simonds Professor of Biological Sciences, Smith College

Genome evolution and biodiversity studies of microbial eukaryotes

Paul S. Katz

Director of Neuroscience and Professor of Biology

Neuroethology, central pattern generators, single neuron RNA-seq, developmental neuroscience, evolution of neural circuits, molluscan systems


Diane A. Kelly

Senior Research Fellow, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Neurobiology, biomechanics, and evolution of reproductive systems.

Lisa Komoroske

Assistant Professor, Environmental Conservation

Conservation genomics and ecophysiology in marine and freshwater ecosystems

Michael L. Lavine

Emeritus Professor, Mathematics and Statistics

Statistical Theory and Methods

Benjamin Letcher

Adjunct Associate Professor of Environmental Conservation

Section Leader, Conte Anadromous Fish Research Center

Population ecology of stream fishes

Rachel A. Levin

Senior Lecturer, Department of Biology, Amherst College

Plant systematics, biogeography and ecology

Li–Jun Ma

Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Fungal comparative genomics, eukaryotic genome evolution and organism adaptation

Jill Miller

Professor of Biology, Amherst College

Ecology and evolution of plant reproductive systems, molecular phylogenetic systematics, population and evolutionary genetics, hybridization and speciation

Benjamin Normark

Department Head and Professor of Biology

Evolution of alternative genetic systems; evolution of host range; scale insect systematics

Jeffrey E. Podos

Professor, Department of Biology

Mechanisms and evolution of vertebrate behavior, bioacoustics

Adam H. Porter

Associate Professor of Biology

Admissions Committee Chair, OEB

Evolutionary biology; hybridization, introgression & speciation; ecological genetics; evolution of regulatory genetic pathways; computer and mathematical modeling; invasion and range expansion; insects, especially butterflies and moths

Stan P. Rachootin

Professor of Biological Sciences, Mount Holyoke College

Evolution and development, history of evolutionary theory

Stephen Rich

Professor of Microbiology

Molecular Evolution and Population Genomics of Arthropod-borne Microbial Pathogens

Charles Ross

Associate Professor of Evolutionary Biology, Hampshire College

Ecological and evolutionary genetics of hybrid zones and speciation

Tristram Seidler

Extension Assistant Professor, Biology

Plant ecology, plant diversity, invasive plants, climate change

David A. Sela

Associate Professor, Department of Food Science

Nutrition, human milk, gut microbiome, systems biology, host-microbe interactions/co-evolution, translational research

Lynnette Sievert

Professor of Anthropology

Evolution of menopause

Michelle Staudinger

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Environmental Conservation

Science Coordinator, DOI Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center

Climate change impacts on coastal biodiversity and trophic relationships

Ethan J. Temeles

Professor of Biology, Amherst College

Foraging behavior; Territoriality; Intra- and Interspecific competition; Resource partitioning; Mutualism; Coevolution;
Sexual dimorphisms and polymorphisms

Elsbeth Walker

Professor, Biology Department

Molecular genetic approaches to studying mechanisms of metal ion homeostasis in plants

Tammy L. Wilson

Research Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Conservation

USGS Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Assistant Unit Leader

Landscape ecology, spatial ecology, wildlife conservation and management, structured decision-making