Scott Villa Assistant Professor of Biology
- Postdoctoral Fellow, Emory University (Biology)
- Ph.D., University of Utah (Biology)
- B.A., University of Colorado, Boulder (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology)
Areas of Expertise
- Behavioral Ecology
- Sexual Selection
I am an evolutionary ecologist broadly interested in understanding how and why new species form. Specifically, my research focuses on the links between environmental change and shifts in animal behavior. Our rapidly changing world is forcing many organisms to occupy new environments. These ecological shifts often drive adaptations that influence both survival and reproductive behavior. In these scenarios, the coupling of adaptive morphology and mating ecology can rapidly generate reproductive barriers among populations.
My lab integrates natural history, behavioral ecology, molecular biology, and experimental evolution to understand how changing environments directly influence the eco-evolutionary processes underlying diversification and species persistence. My research program focuses on three main themes:
- Speciation by symbiosis
- Migration and diversification
- Experimental adaptive radiation
We use both observational and experimental approaches to identify the traits that are critical for an organism’s survival in novel environments. We then experimentally induce, bend, or break these traits to identity how selection directly links divergent ecology to reproductive biology.
Ultimately, my research program is designed to help us better understand, and perhaps predict, how global change influences insect mating behavior and species persistence.