Principal Investigator

Ruth G. Shaw


Ruth earned her B.A. in Biology at Oberlin College and her Ph.D. in Botany and Genetics at Duke University with Janis Antonovics, followed by a postdoc with Joe Felsenstein at University of Washington.  She was then an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Riverside before she joined the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota in 1993.  In her empirical studies of plant populations, she strives to understand evolutionary change as it is influenced by ecological context.  In support of the empirical research, she has worked toward enhancing statistical capabilities for quantitative genetics and for analysis of fitness. Ruth’s CV.

Graduate students and postdocs

Shelby_photo_will need compressed
Shelby Flint

Postdoctoral Research Associate 

Shelby earned B.A. degrees in political science and women’s studies from the University of Arizona, a M.S. in Water Resources at the University of New Hampshire with William McDowell, and her Ph.D. in Conservation Biology from the University of Minnesota with Ruth and Nicholas Jordan. Shelby is interested in ecosystem responses to anthropogenic stressors and associated impacts on ecosystem services. Her past work includes investigations of N and C cycling in headwater wetlands, contaminant exposure and effects, international GMO governance, and translocation risks of native plant populations. Shelby’s work with the Healthy Prairies project centers on studies of local adaptation and adaptive capacity in native prairie plant species. Despite never having played basketball herself, she is an avid Minnesota Lynx fan. Shelby’s CV and researchgate profile.

Nicholas Goldsmith

Most recent Ph.D. alum of the group! 

Nicholas joined the Shaw Research Group in 2012 after graduating with his B.S. in Plant Biology from Purdue University. He is interested in the potential of populations to adapt to changing conditions, especially those caused by people. His dissertation research uses quantitative genetic methods to examine the potential of two native prairie species (Rudbeckia hirta, Black Eyed Susan, and Chamaecrista fasciculata, Partridge Pea) to adapt to human impacts, and uses focus groups to examine the obstacles facing the production and use of locally-sourced native seeds. Nicholas’s CVNicholas’s LinkedIn.

Anna Peschel

Ph.D. Student

Anna received a B.A. in environmental studies with a biology focus from Macalester College in 2008. From 2008-2012 she worked as a seasonal biological technician for native plant restoration and research projects in various regions of the United States. In August 2014 she received an M.S. in Conservation Ecology from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment. Currently she is a fourth year PhD candidate and studies the adaptive capacity of Minnesota tallgrass prairies to climate change. Anna’s CV.

Naomi Rushing

Ph.D. Student

Naomi earned her B.A. in general science with concentrations in biology and environmental studies from Grinnell College.  After graduating she worked as a biological science technician at Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge and at Iowa State University, and more recently as a Minnesota Master Naturalist Instructor at the Carleton College Cowling Arboretum.  Naomi is interested in the consequences of translocating plant populations during prairie restoration efforts and in the scale of local adaptation of native prairie plant species.

Rachel Pain

Ph.D. Student 

Rachel received her B.A in biology with an environmental studies concentration from St. Olaf College in 2013. After graduation, she worked as a field technician for several agroecology labs at the University of Minnesota. In the spring of 2014, she began working with the Chamaecrista Project, studying the capacity for ongoing adaptation, using partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata) populations.


William Peterson, Healthy Prairies Project Researcher 3- Supervisor

William received his B.S. in Natural Resources and Environmental Science from Purdue University in 2010. In 2011 he received an M.A. in Environmental Governance from the University of Essex in Colchester, England. After graduating William returned to his home town of Spencer, IN to work as Executive Director of the Owen County Soil and Water Conservation District, worked on two 4-season diversified small farms in the Midwest, served as a volunteer with the US Peace Corps in Ethiopia, and worked for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Texas.

Undergraduate research assistants and volunteers

Emma Boehm, Senior College of Biological Sciences Student


Kaci Atherton, CFANS student

Abigail Clapp, CFANS student

Adelaide Hayden-Sofio, CFANS student

Former graduate students

Nicholas Goldsmith (Ecology, Evolution, & Behavior), Ph.D 2018: “Human Impacts on Minnesota Prairie Genetics: Salted Environments, Echinacea Hybrids, and Local Seed Sourcing”. Nicholas’s CV, Nicholas’s LinkedIn

Amber Eule-Nashoba (Plant Biological Sciences), Ph.D. 2016: “Fitness and adaptive capacity in a Minnesota prairie”. Future Faculty Fellow, Northeastern University.

Shelby Flint (Conservation Biology, coadvisor N. Jordan), Ph.D. 2015: “Translocating Panicum virgatum L.: Performance, community impact, and competitive outcome”. Postdoctoral Associate, University of Minnesota

Marcus Warwell (Ecology, Evolution & Behavior), Ph.D. 2015: “Genecology and phenotypic evolution of whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) and ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) under warm-dry climate”.  Geneticist, US Forest Service

Gina Quiram (Ecology, Evolution & Behavior, coadvisor J. Cavender-Bares), Ph.D. 2013: “The ecology and evolution of an invasive perennial plant (Lythrum salicaria) in the context of biological control by specialist herbivores (Galerucella spp.)”. Restoration Evaluation Specialist, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Gina’s Linkedin Profile.

Amy Dykstra (Plant Biological Sciences), Ph.D. 2013: “Seedling recruitment in fragmented populations of Echinacea angustifolia”. Assistant Professor, Bethel University. Amy’s website.

John Stanton-Geddes (Ecology, Evolution & Behavior, coadvisor P. Tiffin), Ph.D. 2011: “Limits to range expansion in the native annual legume, Chamaecrista fasciculata”. Data Scientist,

Rachel Mills (Plant Biological Sciences), M.S. 2008. “Evolutionary divergence of the invasive prairie species Melilotus officinalis”. Arctic Slope Regional Corp. Energy Service

Laurie Goldsmith (née Stone, Plant Biological Sciences, coadvisor P. Tiffin), M.S. 2007: “CO2, N, and Biodiversity Effects on Phenotypic Selection and Demography of Native Grassland Perennials”. Harmony Wildflowers, Blue Thumb

Kristin Mercer (Applied Plant Sciences, coadvisor D. Wyse), Ph.D. 2005: “Seed germination, growth and fitness in crop-wild sunflower hybrids from multiple genetic backgrounds: genetic and environmental effects on evolution of wild populations”. Assistant Professor, Ohio State University

Jason Hill (Plant Biological Sciences), Ph. D.2004: “Effects of spontaneous mutation on fitness of Arabidopsis thaliana”. Associate Professor, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, University of Minnesota

Eric Lonsdorf (Ecology, Evolution & Behavior, coadvisor D. Alstad), Ph.D. 2003: “Consequences of inbreeding in fragmented habitat for plant populations and communities”. Research Associate in Biology, Franklin and Marshall College

Stacey Halpern (Ecology, Evolution & Behavior, coadvisor P. Morrow), Ph.D. 2003: “Evaluating the potential for adaptation to climate change in Lupinus perennis”. Associate Professor, Pacific University

Nadilia Gomez (Plant Biological Sciences, coadvisor G. May), M.S. 2001: “Effect of inbreeding on male and female fertility of Nemophila menziesii”. (Ph.D. 2005, Applied Plant Sciences, Univ. of Minnesota). Data and Analytics Lead, DuPont Pioneer.

Christina Kavanaugh (Plant Biological Sciences), M.S. 2000: “The effects of spontaneous mutation on fitness and response to shading in Arabidopsis thaliana”. Greenhouse System Improvement Lead, Monsanto

David Heiser (Ecology, Evolution & Behavior), M.S. 2000: “Fitness effects of outcrossing and the occurrence of insect-mediated cross-pollination in Calylophus serrulatus, a prairie perennial”. Head of Education and Outreach, Peabody Museum, Yale University

Julie Etterson (Ecology, Evolution & Behavior), Ph.D. 2000: “Evolutionary potential of the annual legume, Chamaecrista fasciculata, in relation to global warming”. Associate Professor, University of Minnesota-Duluth

Elizabeth Svenson, (Ecology, coadvisor P. Morrow), M.S. 1995: “Response of prairie species and old-field vegetation in an experimental restoration from seed”.

Robert Podolsky, (Plant Genetics, UC-Riverside), Ph.D. 1994: “Population genetic structure of Clarkia dudleyana”. Associate Professor, Wayne State University

Former postdoctoral associates

Mason Kulbaba, 2016-2018

Kane Keller, 2016-2017 – Assistant Professor, California State University – Bakersfield. Kane’s website.

Seema Sheth, 2014-2015 – Assistant Professor, North Carolina State University. Seema’s website.

Caroline Ridley, 2008-09 – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Jen Lau, 2005-07 –Associate Professor, Indiana University

Helen Hangelbroek, 2003-05

Stuart Wagenius, 2000-02 –Conservation Scientist, Northwestern University

Shumei Chang, 1999-2001 – Professor, University of Georgia

Diane Byers, 1993-98- Associate Professor, Illinois State University

Stefan Andersson, 1992-93 – Professor, Lund University

Gerrit A.J. Platenkamp, 1988-91 –Environmental Consultant

Former staff & research assistants

Mistiha Jayaraj, 2018, undergraduate research assistant

Linley Byrnes (nee Davidson), 2017 2018, Healthy Prairies Senior Technician

Sarah Jordan, 2017-2018 -Healthy Prairies Technician

Jonathan Bertram, 2017- Healthy Prairies Technician

Will Reed, 2014-2018 -Echinacea Project & Healthy Prairies

Anja Holtz, 2015-2016- undergraduate research assistant

Matthew Gullickson, 2016-17 – Healthy Prairies senior technician.

Whitney Watson, 2016-17 – Healthy Prairies senior technician. Currently a graduate student at UW Madison in the wildlife ecology MS program.

Haley MeLampy, 2016, Healthy Prairies technician

Laura Seefeldt, 2015 – Healthy Prairies senior technician

Thorin Gustafson, 2015 – Healthy Prairies field assistant

Lily Brown, 2014-15 – Healthy Prairies lab assistant

Ian Carriere, 2014-15 – Healthy Prairies lab assistant

Santi Charry, 2014-5 – Healthy Prairies lab & data assistant

Erin Karan, 2014-15 – Healthy Prairies lab & greenhouse assistant

Kayla Witt, 2014-15 – Healthy Prairies lab, greenhouse & field assistant

Jillian Riley, 2014 – Healthy Prairies seed collection

Brittany Dilley, 2012-14 – Healthy Prairies seed collection & lab assistant

Sam Weaver, 2014 – NSF REU student, St. Olaf College – Chamaecrista Project

Dana Olofson, 2013 – Chamaecrista Project lab assistant

Storm Autio

Kelsey Scareshawk

Andrew Heiserman