Jay Sexton

Jay Sexton

Dr. Jason Sexton (Associate Professor; Principal Investigator)

Dr. Sexton applies an evolutionary perspective and a collaborative interdisciplinary approach to pressing questions in evolution and ecology. He uses field and greenhouse experiments, genetic analyses, environmental modeling, physiological analyses, and biogeographic datasets to address these questions. Although he focuses primarily on plant climate adaptation, he also actively contributes to research on sustainability science, from biological invasions, and maximizing species diversity under climate change, to the role of sociocultural adaptive capacity in biological conservation. His research is driven by urgent questions, and is grounded in empirical study to test, enhance, and expand ecological and evolutionary theory.


Daniel Toews

Daniel Toews

Daniel Toews (PhD candidate, August 2015-present)

 Daniel completed his undergraduate degree at the University of California, Merced and is now a PhD student in Environmental Systems graduate program. He’s research range from plant ecology, conservation biology, soil science and wetlands ecology; focusing on the emblematic California Central Valley vernal pools. In his free time he enjoys rock climbing, backpacking, biking and other outdoor activities.


Jorge Montiel

Jorge Montiel

Jorge A. Montiel (PhD candidate, August 2015-present)
Jorge A. Montiel, joining us from Mexico City, is a PhD student in Environmental Systems. He is interested in researching plant adaptation via fungal endophytes and disentangle the mysterious amphibious behavior of vernal pool plants. He obtained his B.S. in Biology from Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM) and Master’s degree in Life Sciences in Environmental Biology from the Scientific Research and Higher Education Center of Ensenada (CICESE). His interests range from conservation biology, plant ecology, microbial ecology, fungal biology and mediterranean ecosystems ecology.


Lillie Pennington

Lillie Pennington

Lillie Pennington (PhD candidate, June 2017-present)
Lillie Pennington is starting her first year of graduate study in the Sexton lab. She is originally from Oklahoma and earned her B.S. at Oklahoma City University. Lillie is broadly interested in the impacts of climate change on plant communities and is hoping to refine her research goals in a timely manner. In her free time she enjoys shopping, watching movies, and adventuring with friends.


Jackie Shay (PhD candidate, August 2016-present)
Jackie Shay is a systems biologist exploring the symbiosis between fungi and plants. She is currently working on understanding the associations between fungal endophytes of the cut-leafed monkeyflower (Mimulus laciniatus) in response to range limits. Jackie uses an interdisciplinary approach to illustrate plant-fungal friendships in the natural world, quantify the complexities of these relationships, and demonstrate their significance in sustainable agriculture, climate change, and plant evolution.


Brandon Hendrickson (PhD student, August 2017-present)
Brandon is a PhD student in the Environmental Systems Graduate Group researching various plant adaptations to climate change. Brandon graduated in 2017 from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a B.S. in Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology. He has participated in research on soil nutrient cycling, evolution of dual photo and tactile sensation in fungal spores, memory formation in Apis Mellifera, and fire modelling and has published papers on USGS crop identification methods and pollen performance divergence in two species of Clarkia. Currently, Brandon has focused his research on characterizing the molecular basis and ecological impact of phenology adaptations in Mimulus guttatus. His experiments are in Yosemite National Park, Sierra National Forest, and at the San Joaquin Experimental Range. Brandon’s hobbies include writing, cooking, fermenting, playing music and golf.


Lab Alumni

Molly Stephens, Project Scientist

Dannise Ruiz-Ramos, Postdoctoral Researcher

Abel Campos-Melendez, BS

Mimi Pomephimkham, BS

Sunshine Lopez, BS

Yazmin Lommel, BS

Erin Dickman, MS
Elizabeth Green, Lab Manager
Angelo Aragon, undergraduate
Alfredo Enriquez, undergraduate
Jasmine Ramirez Bonilla, BS
Jenna Heckel, BS
Amanda Tse, BS
Sherman Yu, BS
William Higson, BS
Grant Lvison-Lane, BS
Tyler Rackelmann, BS