Plant Evolutionary Genetics

Our research team is broadly interested in the genetic bases of adaptation and the population and genomic context in which adaptive evolution occurs. We focus much of our research on plant species evolving in agricultural environments and on their close relatives. These novel and highly modified environments have provided the setting for drastic evolutionary change in many plant groups.

We ask questions about the origins and evolution of agricultural weeds, the genetic processes underlying crop domestication, and the mechanisms of trait evolution in crop wild relatives. To address these topics, we use tools from the fields of comparative genomics, population genetics, evolutionary ecology, and molecular biology.


December 2023 – Jake defended his dissertation and claimed the title of Dr. Tomato! In spring he will be teaching at UMass. Congratulations, Jake!

November 2023 – Xiang defended his dissertation and wowed everybody with is beautiful images of stained abscission zones! He is now off to the University of Georgia to do a postdoc in Bob Schmitz’s lab. We’ll miss you, Xiang!

August 2023 – Rachel was selected to give a talk at the 4th Annual Plant Microbe Symposium at Universidad San Francisco de Quito. We’re so jealous you are going to Ecuador, Rachel!

June 2023 – Eric graduated from Gallaudet and is on his way to grad school in RIT! But first he is spending his summer in the lab again tying up last year’s project. Biverly Huff from NTID/RIT has also joined us for an REU. Thanks for joining us, Bivy and Eric!

June 2023 – Ana participated in a panel of the “Disrupting Ableism and Advancing STEM: A National Leadership Summit” convened by the National Academies and got to highlight The Mind Hears! Event recordings here.

June 2023 – Jake was awarded a Bigelow Fellowship for the summer from the Biology Department. Congratulations, Jake!

December 2022 – Maryam and Rachel successfully defended their dissertation proposals. Congratulations! Maryam was awarded a Lotta Crabtree Fellowship for the Spring semester.

October 2022 – Beenish Harris, PhD student from Pakistan, is working on date palm diversity and visiting the lab for 6 months. Welcome, Beenish and family!

June 2022 – Eric Heinze, undergrad from Gallaudet University, is spending the summer with us as part of an REU and kicking off his capstone research. Welcome, Eric!

June 2022 – Maryam has been awarded a Bigelow Fellowship to support her summer! She has also been awarded a pre-dissertation fellowship form teh Graduate School. Congratulations, Maryam!

March 2022 – The Caicedo lab has a new honorary member. Welcome to the world baby Tavares! And Maryam has been awarded a Natural History Collections grant for her work on tomato defense. Congratulations, Maryam!

March 2022 – Bahman Khahaninamin has joined the lab for a rotation. Welcome Bahman! And Dr. Maria Soledad Ureta, from La Universidad Nacional el Sur (and a colleague of Ale’s) has arrived for a 3 week visit. A longer visit next time, Sole!

February 2022 – Dr. Alejandro Presotto, from La Universidad Nacional del Sur, BahĂ­a Blanca, Argentina, has arrived for a 3 month Fulbright visit. We are excited about Argentinean weedy rice! Welcome, Ale!

January 2022 – Xiang and Jake have scored another Lotta Crabtree Fellowship, congratulations! Undergrad Jessica Butura has joined the lab to carry out her honors thesis research.

September 2021 – Undergrad Cecilia Knowles has joined the lab to help out Rachel with her work on the rice microbiome.

June 2021 – NTID students, Calvin Park and Ryan Krieger have joined the lab for a summer REU. Welcome, Calvin and Ryan!

May 2021 – Xiang has been awarded a Gilgut Fellowship to support his summer research. Congratulations, Xiang!

May 2021 – Maryam has decided to permanently join our lab for her PhD! Welcome, Maryam!

December 2020 – Jake and Xiang have been awarded Lotta Crabtree Fellowships for Spring 2021! This is the third time each has been awarded this prestigious fellowship, which will allow them to fully focus on their research during the spring semester. Congratulations!

December 2020 – Maryam Rashidzade, Plant Biology first year student has joined our lab for a rotation. Welcome, Maryam!

September 2020 – Andrea Marroquin, Plant Biology first year student has joined our lab for a rotation. Welcome, Andrea!