Primary Investigator: Art Weis

I have been in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, here at the University of Toronto, since 2007. Before that I taught for 19 years at the University of California-Irvine.

My early research interests included insect life history evolution, ecological interactions across three trophic levels and the evolution of plant defense systems. Much of this work centered on goldenrod, the goldenrod gall fly, and the fly’s insect and bird enemies.

Recently I have become interested in the selective pressures imposed by climate change. I established the Experimental Climate Warming Array at the Koffler Scientific Reserve as a device to study plant growth performance under future temperature regimes, in an otherwise natural

I also initiated Project Baseline, which has secured genetic materials that future researches will need to gauge evolutionary response to global change. This project grew out of the lab’s work in California, which discovered an evolutionary shift in flowering time in Brassica rapa following and multi-year drought. We grew seeds collected before the drought side-by-side with seeds collected after. As predicted by theory, these populations evolved a one-week acceleration in flowering time over just 5 generations. Project Baseline will make similar experiments possible with dozens of species from across North America.

The move from California to Ontario has been terrific. I grew up in Aurora, Illinois (home town of Wayne and Garth—party on!) so it was a return to a familiar climate.

Graduate Students

Sarah Hall
I joined the lab in my last year of my undergraduate degree in EEB and worked on a fourth year research project on pollination disturbance in Brassica rapa. I enjoyed the research and wanted to investigate further into the topic, so I continued in the lab as a Masters student beginning September 2017. My research investigates plant tolerance to heatwaves and herbivory by comparing the flowering schedules of different genetic lines of Camelina sativa.

Sydney Rotman
I started my Masters in the Weis lab in the 2017-18 academic year. Before that, I completed my undergrad at Queen’s University with a major in Biology. I did an undergraduate thesis in my 4th year researching how external selective pressures which influence fruit success along an inflorescence, such as herbivory and growing season length, select for reproductive allocation patterns across an elevational gradient in seasonality. My current research focuses on whether climate change will amplify or diminish the genetic variation for survival and reproduction in the plant Brassica rapa. I am also looking at how the variance in fitness changes with the mean fitness under varying climatic scenarios.

Cameron So
I am a fourth year student with a specialist in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, a major in Environmental Sciences, and a minor in Environmental Studies. I am currently investigating the effects of simulated herbivory on floral phenology in the biofuel crop, Camelina sativa. My project is a supplement to Sarah Hall’s master’s thesis. Last year, I completed a research project with Dr. Tammy Sage investigating the effect of chronic heat stress on the reproductive phenotypes of C. sativa. I have also assisted research at the Ontario Forest Research Institute in Sault Ste. Marie and completed a second year research course (ROP299) with Dr. Brad Bass. Beyond working in the lab, I enjoy skiing, playing ultimate frisbee, playing games, and exploring new places.

Maddy Chiang
I started volunteering in the Weis lab starting September 2017 after completing my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry and Human Biology. We are currently working on a project with Professor Stephen Wright to examine the cause of floral colour polymorphism in Hesperis matronalis. The research focuses on investigating the genetic and molecular basis of floral colour by growing the biennials in the greenhouse of Earth Science and RNA sequencing flower buds of different colour plants. I hope to continue my work the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology for my masters in 2018.

Cassie Ren
I am a second-year undergraduate student majoring in human biology and physiology. I am currently volunteering on a research project investigating the different phenotypes of Hesperis matronalis (Dame’s rocket), using RNA sequencing. I love plants and cats.