Douglas J. Emlen
How quickly do traits change under natural selection? Which traits can respond to selection, and which cannot? What underlying factors help to determine the way that traits evolve? My research focuses on the intersection of development and evolution, to answer fundamental questions about evolutionary change. My interests include the evolution of form and body proportions, and the evolution of sexual dimorphism.
I work to support and coordinate lab activities, research, and outreach, and share my excitement about all things Evo and Devo with students through teaching a variety of courses within the Division of Biological Sciences.
I started my PhD in the Emlen lab in the fall 2016 after completing a Master’s degree at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France. During my MSc, I spent a semester in the lab carrying out a project with Devin O’Brien dealing with the biomechanics and physiology of male leg weapons in the leaf-footed bug (Narnia femorata) and the frog legged beetle (Sagra femorata). I am specifically interested in the evolution of mating systems and sexual dimorphism.
I am currently working on the evolution of sexual dimorphism in stick and leaf insects (Order: Phasmatodea). Phasmids are very charismatic herbivorous insects that display a wide range of body sizes and shapes that can be extremely different between males and females. I am studying the macroevolutionary patterns of sexual dimorphism in Phasmatodea and the ecological factors that are driving them. I am also digging into the microevolutionary processes that result in sexual dimorphism in these insects by specifically studying the evolutionary ecology of two model systems: thorny devil stick insects (Eurycantha sp.) and leaf insects (Phyllium sp.). I recently went to Papua New Guinea to study the behavior of wild populations of thorny devil stick insects thanks to a National Geographic Early career grant.
Nathan joined the Emlen lab in 2019 and is researching courtship songs produced by male rhinoceros beetles. His project focuses on understanding how signals within a song relate to the size and health of the singing individual and whether these signals affect female choice.
Chelsey joined the lab in 2018 and is researching the cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) produced by rhinoceros beetles. Her project focuses on understanding the relationships between CHCs, body condition, and fitness.
Devin is a junior double majoring in Biology and Microbiology, and joined the lab in the summer of 2019. Devin has been working on several projects related to courtship behavior and song production of rhinoceros beetles.
Cole is a senior majoring in Human Biology and joined the Emlen Lab in 2018. He is passionate about human health and the applications of molecular biology and genetics to everyday life. Cole is currently examining the morphology of rhinoceros beetle weapons.