Eckert Lab at Evolution 2017 held in Portland, OR
Connie Bolte joined the lab in 2015 to complete a M.S. thesis on the evolution of climate niches in southeastern hard pines (Pinus taeda, P. pungens, & P. rigida). After defending her thesis in 2017, she remained in the lab as a doctoral student working on hybrid zone dynamics and the evolution of reproductive isolation in P. pungens and P. rigida. Prior to her work in the lab, Connie was an award winning high school teacher of environmental science. Connie's research interests include host-microbiome coevolution, local adaptation, and genecology.
Shelby Bennett joined the lab in 2019 as a M.S. student in the VCU Bioinformatics program. Currently, she is working on inference of a phylogeny for North American white pines as part of a project looking to move into macroevolutionary questions related to genome size, niche breadth, and the evolution of reproductive isolation.
Elena Meyer joined the lab in Fall of 2019 as an ILS doctoral student. She is coming to VCU from New College of Florida. Her research interests include plant reproductive biology, the evolution and stability of mixed/selfing mating systems, and the implications of anthropogenic global change on evolutionary dynamics.
Andrew Eckert established the lab in the Department of Biology at VCU in 2011. Currently, he is an Associate Professor of Biology working and teaching in the general area of evolutionary genetics. Prior to VCU, Andrew was a postdoctoral scholar at UC Davis. He obtained his doctoral degree from the University of Washington in 2006. His research interests include the evolution of local adaptation and its interplay with speciation. My full academic CV is here.
Chris Friedline was a postdoctoral scholar (NSF PRFB recipient) in the lab working on the evolutionary genetics of adaptation to fire in southeastern pines. He finished up in 2016 and is currently a consultant at Diamond Age Data Science.
Justin Bagley was a postdoctoral scholar in the lab working as part of the larger NSF funded team addressing questions about the evolution of adaptive genetic variation in southwestern white pine (Pinus strobiformis). Justin's research interests include phylogeography, population genomics, species delimitation, and integrative taxonomy. He finished up in 2018 after which he was a postdoctoral scholar in the lab of Nathan Muchhala located at the University of Missouri - St. Louis. Currently, Justin is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Jacksonville State University (Faculty Bio).
Brandon Lind completed his disseration about the evolutionary drivers of genetic diversity in tree populations in 2018. Currently, he is a postdoctoral scholar in the lab of Sally Aitken located at the University of British Columbia.
Trevor Faske completed his M.S. thesis about the effects of temperature and genetic structure on patterns of local adaptation within populations of gypsy moth distributed along its southern range front in 2017. Currently, Trevor is a doctoral student in the lab of Tom Parchman at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Rebecca Piri joined the lab in 2017 as a M.S. student in the VCU Environmental Studies program. She completed her M.S. thesis in Biology about empirical patterns of genetic structure among northern stands of foxtail pine in August, 2019. Rebecca's research interests include population genetics, local adaptation, and environmental change. Currently, she is a doctoral student in the Integrative Life Sciences program at the University of Georgia.
Mitra Menon joined the lab in 2015 after completing her M.S. thesis at Texas Tech. Currently, she is a doctoral candidate working on the interplay between local adaptation and introgression in southwestern white pine (Pinus strobiformis) and limber pine (P. flexilis) as part of a larger Macrosystems grant funded by the NSF. Mitra's research interests include the evolution of phenotypic plasticity and the interplay between introgression and local adaptation in relation to species range dynamics. She finished her dissertation in 2020. Currently, Mitra is a postdoctoral scholar in the laboratory of Jeffrey Ross-Ibarra at UC Davis where she is studying transposable element evolution in maize.
Alex Brown joined the lab in the Fall of 2019 as an M.S. student in the Biology program. He received his B.S. in Environmental Biology from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) in 2016. Prior to joining the lab, he worked as an environmental health specialist. His research interests include species interactions, evolutionary adaptation, phylogenetics, and speciation. Alex finished his thesis in 2021.
Erin Eckert is married to Andrew and his best friend, confidant, and source of sanity. Currently, Erin is employed as a hospice nurse for Bon Secours. She is Charlie's mom and the step mom to Shannon and Moira, while also being an all around awesome human being. In her spare time, Erin enjoys cooking, wine, and Candy Crush. Her research interests include home improvement methods, figuring out how to spend more time at the beach, and how to maximize time spent with family and friends.
Charles (Charlie) Eckert is an active little dude in the process of learning his numbers and colors. In his spare time, he enjoys daredevil stunts on his tricycle, working with tools, and exploring our yard. He also loves puppies, his sisters, hiking, and his gaga. His research interests include choo-choo trains, dip-it sauce (a.k.a. ketchup), and, of course, the evolutionary genetics of trees.
Shannon (Shanny) Eckert is an eleven year old nature lover and painter. She enjoys ice skating, painting, climbing trees, reading, chess, dancing, and playing the ukulele. Her research interests include chess, pretty rocks, painting methods, and, of course, ways of mentoring her little sidekick, Charlie, in the art of being a kid.
Moira (Moi) Eckert is a mature fourteen years in age and working towards expertise in culinary arts, various physical and life sciences, theater arts, and music. In her spare time, she reads as much as a doctoral student, invents new recipes, listens to copious amounts of music, watches the TikTok, collects rocks, and is perfecting her baseball skills. Her interests include home improvement methods, garden-to-table cooking and farming, singing, playing guitar, and acting. Her most recent performance was this summer as part of the Richmond SPARC program (https://www.sparcrichmond.org).