Nicholas J. Kooyers, PhD, joined the Department of Biology at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette as an assistant professor in August 2018. Originally from Michigan, he received his BS in Biology and Chemistry at Valparaiso University in 2007 and his PhD in Biology and Biomedical Sciences in the Ecology, Evolution and Population Biology Division at Washington University in St. Louis in 2013. Dr. Kooyers comes to UL Lafayette following postdoctoral research positions at University of Virginia, University of California, Berkeley and, most recently, University of South Florida.
Dr. Kooyers research interests as an evolutionary biologist and plant geneticist are centered around understanding how well organisms are adapted to their environment and how such adaptation is mediated via genetics, physiology and phenotypes. This work is driven by basic questions in evolutionary biology such as: What types of genes and mutations underlie adaptive variants? How fast and predictable is the process of adaptation? What are the constraints and ecosystem consequences of adaptation? The Kooyers lab uses widespread plants including monkeyflowers, white clover and duckweeds as model systems to answer these questions as these plants have successfully colonized large climatic gradients generating interesting hypotheses about the selective pressures that underlie adaptation. Recent work has largely focuses on adaptation in response to selection pressures associated with climate change including shifting growing seasons, more frequent and severe droughts, and altered biotic interactions. Methods in the lab range from molecular genetics to genomics and bioinformatics to manipulative experiments in the field, all integrated together to better understand fundamental questions in evolutionary biology.