My particular focus is the ecological interactions and evolutionary feedback between humans and plants, which affects humanity at individual and global scales. I wish to contribute (and to train future scientists to contribute) to our understanding of range expansion and rapid adaptation to novel environments (both abiotic and biotic) in anthropogenic contexts.
My research focuses on evolutionary ecology and invasion biology. I combine experimental, genomic, ancient DNA, and geo-referenced distribution data to investigate plant ecological genetics, particularly rapid adaptation to novel environments and the evolution of ecologically important traits. I am particularly interested in testing ecological-evolutionary theories that attempt to explain successful range expansion.
Prospective lab members:
If you are interested in the ecological and evolutionary impacts of human disturbance on plant systems, such as through biological invasion or land use change, then is this the lab for you! We will work in natural, disturbed, and agricultural systems. Particularly, there is funding available for students and postdocs who want to work in beautiful *big sagebrush steppe systems* through the GEM3 research program.
Positions will be advertised below and on Twitter (@KTInvasion). Please contact me at email@example.com for more information, even if the positions below do not perfectly fit your interests! Additionally, candidates who would be interested in submitting applications for independent fellowship funding, such as the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology, or USDA NIFA AFRI fellowships on topics overlapping or adjacent to my research interests are welcome to reach out to discuss the possibility.
Open positions in the Turner lab:
PhD student: Population genomics and adaptive capacity in Big Sagebrush (Artemisisa tridentata spp.) (population genomics, genotype by environment interactions, common garden experiments, bioinformatics)
Big sagebrush is a foundational species of the North American West. Threatened and endangered species rely on it. And yet the range of this iconic species is shrinking, due to pressure on several fronts, including invasive species, encroaching native species, altered fire regimen, and climate change. We will work together to understand how big sagebrush may be able to adapt to and succeed in the face of these pressures. This student will be involved in the large and collaborative network of transdisciplinary scientists and stakeholders across Idaho as part of the GEM3 research program. For more information on applying, please see the Department of Biological Sciences at ISU. This student will receive a stipend and a tuition waiver, and may be required to work for some part of their time as a Teaching Assistant. Priority deadline for application is January 15, 2020. Final application deadline is April 1, 2020.
PhD student: Reconstructing past environments to understand invasive species success (ancient DNA, metagenomics, ecological niche modeling, bioinformatics)
Invasive plant species are a costly and destructive problem for both natural and agricultural environments. To understand how these species are able to rapidly succeed in, and even dominate, completely novel environments, we must understand the dynamic biotic and abiotic environments they faced, and how they evolved to better suit these environments over a matter of decades. We will use geo-referenced historical herbarium specimens of a weedy species to understand the novel abiotic conditions (climate, soil) and biotic communities (microbiome, co-occuring species) this species faced as it expanded into its invasive range. Further, we will directly observe evolutionary change through time in the genome of this invader over the course of the invasion. This project will involve working in the state-of-the-art ISU Ancient DNA Extraction Laboratory. For more information on applying, please see the Department of Biological Sciences at ISU. This student will receive a stipend and a tuition waiver, and may be required to work for some part of their time as a Teaching Assistant. Priority deadline for application is January 15, 2020. Final application deadline is April 1, 2020.
Some handy keywords for your enjoyment:
invasion biology, evolutionary ecology, ecological genomics, plant biology, plant microbiomes, population genetics, ancient DNA, ethnobotany, science communication