We use genomic and bioinformatic techniques to document the origins of plant diversity from evolutionary and ecological perspectives. We use a variety of plant groups and habitats, but our favorites are rock-dwelling saxifrages. All the work we do takes place in a museum context and uses and generates specimens that document plant diversity in space and time. We are based in the Department of Biological Sciences, Mississippi State University, and the University's herbarium MISSA.
2/8/24—The Folk lab is awarded a CAREER grant! This five-year award will involve investigating ecological drivers of hybridization opportunities in Heuchera, an important garden plant and montane North American radiation. The award also contains a major educational component where we will contribute to Data Science initiatives on campus.
9/1/23—Ryan traveled to Dragon Con in Atlanta with colleagues (right) from the University of Florida to debut an early draft of a major outreach video: TreeTender II. An official rollout will be sometime this academic year...!
7/10/23—The Folk lab leads a $1.6 million National Science Foundation award. Together with Heather Jordan (MSU), Delaney Vampran-Foster (MSU), Daijiang Li (LSU), Claudia Solís-Lemus (UW-Madison), and Robert Guralnick (UF), we will use NSF-funded NEON field sites across North America to investigate interactions between nodulating plants and their bacterial and fungal symbionts across areas, climates, and time scales.
5/11/23—Congrats to Dexcem for a $3,000 award from SSB for his research, and to all three graduate students for winning travel awards to Botany this year! And congrats to Tajinder Singh for winning the PLANTS grant, a mentorship program that will help him attend Botany 2023 all expenses paid!
4/21/23—Congrats to Sushil for passing his proposal defense and getting back his first peer-reviewed manuscript for revision. In the same week! A few months ago Nick also got his first accept on a manuscript and Dex is writing away as well!
4/19/23—A new method, utremi, was published in Systematic Biology this week! https://doi.org/10.1093/sysbio/syad018 This is a new very flexible method for ancestral niche reconstruction. This paper also contains the latest and greatest phylogeny in the Heuchera group of genera and the first multispecies test of (the Pleistocene version of) Anderson's disturbance hypothesis in a quantitative context.
5/21/22—Time for a review or revue of student successes! Nick got $6,100 last year from the college and IAPT for his plant chemistry research, and this year $4,200 from ASPT and SSB for his pollination work. Dexcem got $2000 this year from ASPT and the department for his species delimitation study, and Sushil got $1000 from the department for his biogeographic work in Symphyotrichum. Finally, the students and postdoc got something like $3000 to support attendance of Botany this year! Great job all!
1/17/22—Dexcem Pantinople has joined the lab, also as a PhD student! He comes from the Philippines and will work on a phylogeography project! 8/16/21—Sushil Dahal has joined the lab as a PhD student! He will be picking up some of the work he started as an REU student for his dissertation work.
7/31/21—The MISSA herbarium database is fully recovered! We have moved and updated our complete legacy database and built new protocols for further uploads and maintenance. As well as mobilizing 1,700 new specimens from our last two years!
7/19/21—Come see two talks and two posters from the lab at the 2021 Botany conference! https://2021.botanyconference.org/
2/27/21—The workflow paper for the NitFix project is out! Read on to find out how to manage a megaproject based in collections and go from sampling to analysis and collaboration with maximal efficiency. We are implementing successors to this strategy here at State! https://doi.org/10.1002/aps3.11410
2/26/21—We published a new generic revision of Saxifragaceae! In this paper, we set up a taxonomic framework for this important family of temperate and alpine environments, tying up loose ends from the literature. We hope it will solve many phylogenetic problems long noted and not dealt with due to the previous lack of a global view. https://doi.org/10.1002/tax.12450
7/9/20—A new lab paper is out in Nature Communications! This is part of longer-term collaborative research showing that, while most plant diversity is in the tropics, this diversity is ancient and much of the recent action in plant diversification is actually outside tropical zones and of very recent date. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-17116-5
2/25/20—The MISSA herbarium has entered the 21st century! We are officially APGIV compliant and follow the APG phylogenetic sequence!
12/10/19—Carol is slated to arrive in January as the new lab postdoc! We are excited to have her. Meanwhile Nick has become quite the plant DNA expert, and our libraries are a success so far!
8/22/19—We are excited to begin opening shop at Mississippi State! The herbarium MISSA now has a new expanded home (not without some dust yet to clear), and Nick Engle-Wrye is starting a masters project. We are excited to start generating some big data!!