Welcome to the Plant Ecology and Evolution Research Group at Syracuse University. We represent a research core in the Department of Biology interested in the fundamental processes underlying plant diversity and function, from genetic and molecular processes to those structuring communities and ecosystems. Particular strengths of our group include plant-herbivore and plant-pathogen interactions, grassland biology, plant speciation and phylogenetics, and mechanisms regulating plant diversity over multiple scales. Current research locations include the grasslands of Africa, Yellowstone, and northern England; xeric communities of Florida and the desert Southwest; and forests of the Great Smoky Mountains and the Pacific Northwest.

The goal of our research group is to provide a forum for cross-disciplinary research and graduate training in plant ecology and evolution. We work collaboratively with many research groups within Syracuse University, across the U.S., and internationally. In addition, there are a number of other researchers nearby at SUNY-ESF studying various aspects of plant ecology and evolution. We continue to develop a strong research and training program to train the next generation of plant ecologists and evolutionary biologists. We are looking for bright, energetic, and enthusiastic graduate students and researchers to join our growing group. Please feel free to contact any of the faculty listed below to learn more about Plant Ecology and Evolution at SU.

Faculty in Plant Ecology and Evolution


David M. Althoff
Assistant Professor

  My research focuses on the evolutionary ecology of tri-trophic relationships among plants, insect herbivores, and their predators.  I am interested examining how the interactions among community members can promote speciation.

Douglas A. Frank

  I am interested in the factors that control plant composition and diversity and the metabolism of carbon and nutrients in grazing ecosystems.

Jason D. Fridley
Assistant Professor



My research focuses on the assembly and distribution of terrestrial plant communities and how plants regulate ecosystem processes. I maintain broad interests in phytogeography, landscape ecology, and plant species interactions.

Jannice Friedman

Jannice Friedman
Assistant Professor

  Our research is focused on understanding the causes and consequences of the enormous diversity in plant reproductive strategies. We integrate various techniques to explore evolutionary and ecological factors underlying reproductive transitions to ask questions about the lability of traits and how they respond to selection, their adaptive significance, and whether the underlying genetics is simple or complex.
Ramesh Raina

Ramesh Raina
Associate Professor and Chair

  The goal of my research is to understand how plants sense the environment and activate defense against stresses, especially pathogens. We use genetic and molecular approaches to identify the genes involved in these processes and the molecular mechanisms regulating the responses.
 Mark Ritchie

Mark E. Ritchie

I am interested in interactions between plants and herbivores and self-organization in biological systems.
Kari Segraves  

Kari A. Segraves
Associate Professor



I am interested in the evolutionary ecology of plant-insect interactions.  My research focuses on understanding how coevolution and mutualism have increased species diversity in plant and insect groups.

Interested in the Graduate Studies Group in Plant Ecology and Evolution at Syracuse?

General information on Graduate Studies in SU Biology