PI: Jenny Gremer

Associate Professor

B.Sc. (2002) University of California, Santa Barbara

Ph.D. (2010) University of Montana

Postdoctoral researcher (2010 – 2013) University of Arizona

Ecologist (2013 – 2015) US Geological Survey


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Article on Jenny’s pathway to science



Marina LaForgia


I am a plant population and community ecologist broadly interested in the strategies plants use to cope with environmental variability and how the adaptiveness of these strategies change under a warmer, drier, and increasingly variable climate. To answer these questions, I combine functional traits with experimental manipulations and long-term datasets. While ecologists have learned a great deal about plant-environment interactions from adult traits, relatively less is known about earlier life stages, including seed persistence and dispersal. This lack of knowledge also complicates the control and eradication of invasive annuals, which dominate many semi-arid California grasslands and are becoming increasingly problematic in southwestern deserts. For my post-doc, I am exploring seed trait trade-offs in arid and semi-arid annuals in order to understand how the environment shapes seed strategies and how the invasiveness and persistence of these strategies may shift under climate change. For more about my current and past research, visit my website at marinalaforgia.github.io.

Brandie Quarles Chidyagwai


I am a plant evolutionary ecologist broadly interested in how plants respond to stressful and variable environments. I integrate field, greenhouse, population genomics, and demographic modeling methods to assess how key traits influence population demography and the opportunity for adaptation of other traits. As a postdoc at Davis, I’m working with the Maloof, Gremer, and Magney labs to identify the factors (such as variation in genotypes, physiology, and the environment) that contribute to population persistence/extinction. Results from field experiments addressing that question will then be used to parameterize an integrated demographic model to project future population dynamics, especially in the face of climate change. I’m also excited to work with Denneal Jamison-McClung on science outreach and education related to the project.

Website: https://sites.google.com/view/brandie-quarles/home

Samantha J. Worthy


I am an ecologist interested in the ecological and evolutionary consequences of genetic and phenotypic variation in plants. A goal of my research is to quantify the drivers of individual demographic rates to understand current, and predict future, emergent patterns in ecology. I combine observational, experimental, and data analytical approaches that span and integrate across biological and spatial scales. As a postdoc at Davis, I’m working with the Gremer, Schmitt, Strauss, and Maloof labs exploring the ecology and evolution of the seasonal niche and its impact on population and species responses to current and future climates. In particular, I will relate environmental cues to seasonal timing and fitness of species across the Streptanthus clade of Brassicaceae and its allies.

Website: www.samanthajworthy.weebly.com


Elena Suglia

PhD student

I am an evolutionary ecologist studying plant phenological responses to climate change and variable environments. Specifically, I am interested in how combinations of environmental factors such as temperature, precipitation, and herbivory can affect individual and population phenological dynamics and success. These abiotic and biotic factors affect plants in many ways, and the climate and herbivory regimes plants experience are predicted to shift and combine in novel ways over the coming decades. While it is well understood that flowering phenology is a key trait that often responds to climatic changes, relatively little is known about how changing and novel combinations of conditions will affect reproductive phenology and success, and whether plant populations and species will be able to adapt in the face of these changes. My PhD work combines field research and common garden experiments with genomics to investigate how a native California plant, Streptanthus tortuosus, may cope with climate change in a rapidly changing world. Visit my website at elenasuglia.com to learn more!


Danielle De La Pascua

PhD student

I am a rising third year PhD student interested in all things ecology and evolution of plant defense! I am specifically interested in the ways that plant functional traits may trade-off, how plants may minimize costs of certain traits such as defenses, and how plant defense trait expression and responses may be affected by rapid climate change. I am currently working on projects testing multivariate trade-offs across functional seed traits of species within the Streptanthus clade. I am also working on testing growth-defense and constitutive-induced defense trade-offs within Streptanthus tortuosus. Lastly, I am running experiments with my collaborator and labmate Elena Suglia to test how drought and timing of herbivory affects the defense and life history responses within Streptanthus tortuosus, and how this may affect species plant-insect interactions under climate change. I also work on projects that focus on EID (equity, inclusion, and diversity) in ecology and evolution, such as organizing a department workshops that included a session on inclusive teaching practices on sex and gender in biology classrooms, hosted by Project Biodiversify. Additionally, I co-organize a program called Ecology & Evolution Graduate School Preview Program focused on providing historically excluded and minoritized people with resources, mentorship, and workshops to assist in applying and thriving in graduate school. Finally, I work on incorporating aspects of equity and justice into my research and career goals through the Feminist Research Institutive by my involvement in the Asking Different Questions Scholars Program, where I have spoke in small group discussions aiming at identifying and addressing systemic injustices across institutional levels.

Maya Arakaki

Ph.D. Student

I am a first year PhD student in the Graduate Group in Ecology. My research ideas are still developing, but I am interested in life history evolution, phenotypic plasticity, spatial ecology, and quantitative methods for modeling population dynamics and genomic predictions in plant species. Outside of research, I enjoy baking, gardening, swimming, and camping with friends.

Elise Elwood

Ph.D. Student

Sarah Ashlock


I am a budding field ecologist enthused by natural history and botany. I’m actively involved in projects exploring demography, niche, and response to environmental change in Streptanthus. In 2020, I received my B.S. in Plant Science at UC Santa Cruz and completed an Honors Senior Thesis under the advisement of Dr. Kathleen Kay. My research interests are currently divided among ecology, evolution, and plant taxonomy. Contact me at srashlock@ucdavis.edu.




Lab mascot, field assistant

Interests:  field work,  sampling grasses, coarse woody debris, and plant volatiles.  Also enjoys hiking, running, belly rubs, and treats.




The lab group (circa 2021)