Associate Professor of Evolutionary Biology
He did postdoctoral work at the University of Arizona and New Mexico State University.
Charles studies the ecological and evolutionary genetics of hybrid zones and speciation, specifically in crickets. His research and teaching interests include all aspects of evolutionary biology, as well as population genetics, molecular ecology, entomology, and genomics. Other interests include Ultimate, backpacking, and good wine.
Addiction, as defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. Drugs change the brain; they change its structure and how it works, but what is the evidence for this? Do the current medical models and treatment modalities of addiction provide effective interventions? Are there alternatives? This course provides an overview of the science and issues surrounding substance-related addictions and the processes and mechanisms that underlie addiction. We will address both the genetic and environmental underpinnings of addiction, and we will introduce the epidemiology and developmental course of addiction. Students in this course will learn to find and read scientific research articles on topics of their choosing and will learn to write analytical reviews of these articles. These reviews will form the basis of final papers in which students choose particular areas to investigate in detail and present their findings to the class.
Biological organisms provide an unparalleled palette for almost every color and pattern imaginable. Why do organisms have stripes and spots? Why blue or red? When is a spiral just a spiral? This course will explore how and why various colors and patterns are produced in the biological and natural world. We will investigate underlying mechanisms (biochemical, genetic and epigenetic, developmental) and external influences (environmental mechanisms, natural selection), as well as simple mathematical models, to explain their production. Additionally, we will link patterns/colors to their functions, such as defense, warning, camouflage, communication, mate attraction, etc. We will use both applied and primary scientific research literature to explore topics in these areas. Students will research specific aspects or questions, research and collect data on novel scientific questions, and present their findings in written and oral format.
The theory of evolution has been a key to the integration of the biological sciences and to the deep understanding of many biological phenomena. In this course we look at the possible contributions of evolutionary theory to understanding some of the key characteristics that define the human species, e.g., high levels of cooperation, language, culture, morality, unique mating behaviors, religion, flexible learning capacities, and so on. We will compare alternative, in some cases competing, approaches that emphasize specific cognitive/behavioral adaptations, developmental plasticity, or the co-evolution of genes and culture. Students will research specific issues and present their findings in class and in a final paper. Prerequisites: Concentrator in 2nd year or above and at least 3 previous or concurrent courses in biology, cognitive science, psychology, or anthropology.
Molecular ecology utilizes the spatial and temporal distribution of molecular genetic markers to ask questions about the ecology, evolution, behavior, and conservation of organisms. This science may utilize genetic variation to understand individuals, populations, and species as a whole ("How does habitat fragmentation affect connectedness among populations?" "From where do particular groups originate?"). Similarly, genetic patterns may reveal information about interactions of organisms ("How much interbreeding occurs among populations?" "How monogamous or promiscuous are individuals?"). Molecular ecologists also utilize specific genes to investigate how organisms respond and adapt to their environments ("How do genetically modified organisms escape into natural environments?"). We will read background and primary literature in this field to understand how molecular ecology can answer basic and applied questions about organisms. Students will research specific applications of this discipline and present their findings in written and oral format. Some knowledge of biology will be assumed.
2009 was the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species." The concept of biological evolution pre-dates Darwin. However, when Darwin presented a provocative mechanism by which evolution works (i.e., natural selection), he catapulted an idea to the forefront of biology that has precipitated 150 years of research into the nature and origin of organic diversity. This course will serve as an introduction to the science of evolutionary biology. Additionally, we will take a historical look at the development of evolution as a concept and how it has led to the Modern Synthesis in biology and modern research in Evolutionary Biology. We will also investigate how Darwin's "dangerous idea" has infiltrated different areas of biology and beyond. Prerequisite: some biology
Ecological genetics lies at the interface of ecology, evolution, and genetics. This discipline concerns the genetics of ecologically important traits (those traits that relate to fitness and adaptation) and primarily focuses on phenotypic variation and evolution. This course will provide a foundation for how and why traits such as cryptic coloration in butterflies persist and what variations in mice populations allow some individuals to survive the winter. We will read background and primary literature in this field to understand how ecological genetics is important in answering basic and applied questions about organisms. Students will research specific applications of this discipline and present their findings in written and oral format. Prerequisites: previous work in biology and statistics would be helpful.