Plenary Talks


Cathy Pfister

Professor, Department of Ecology & Evolution,
University of Chicago


Dr. Pfister’s ecology research focuses on population and community level phenomenon in marine systems. Two recurring themes are the consequences of marine population fluctuations for persistence and the interactions between species and ocean nutrients.

Her interests can be broadly grouped into four areas: (1) identifying the causes and consequences of demographic variability in marine populations, (2) understanding the relative impacts of genetic and demographic factors to extinction risk, (3) the interaction between animal, microbial and algal populations and their relationship to the nitrogen cycle, and (4) the documentation and implications of declining pH in the ocean.

All of her research has the further goal of contributing to marine conservation and resource management issues. She uses both laboratory and field experiments to test ecological theory and her methodology incorporates molecular genetic techniques and quantitative techniques as well as long-term data.

The primary site for her research is the rocky intertidal of the outer coast of Washington State, primarily Tatoosh Island.


Alan Templeton

Professor, Department of Biology,
Washington University in St. Louis


Dr. Templeton’s work involves the application of molecular genetic techniques and statistical population genetics to a variety of evolutionary problems, both basic and applied.

He is interested in basic questions about evolution, such as the meaning of “species” and the mechanisms by which new species evolve, and human evolution over the last two million years, including the issue of human “race.”

He applies evolutionary genetics to conservation biology, with his main current focus being the impact of managed forest fires at the landscape level upon the genetic population structure of species inhabiting that landscape, such as the Eastern collared lizard (Crotaphytus collaris collaris) and lichen hoppers (Trimerotropis saxatilis) and the impact of human activities upon dispersal in the endangered fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra infraimmuculata) in Northern Israel and the wild ass in Southern Israel. He also studies the role of plasticity in gene expression in allowing the fire salamanders to survive in a wide variety of environments.

Finally, he applies evolutionary approaches to clinical genetics, including the study of the genetics of complex diseases, such as coronary artery disease and end-stage kidney disease, and to the relationship of the microbiome to clinically relevant traits.


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