Jay Sexton

Dr. Jason (Jay) 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 ToewsDaniel Toews (PhD candidate, August 2015-present)

Daniel completed his undergraduate degree at the University of California, Merced and is now a PhD student in the Environmental Systems Graduate Group. His research ranges 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.

Lillie Pennington

Lillie Pennington (PhD candidate, June 2017-present)
Lillie 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 studying the adaptive potential of plant populations to tolerate environmental stresses across their species range. In her free time she enjoys shopping, watching movies, and adventuring with friends.

Xitlaly Gomez Vega (Undergraduate technician, Fall 2021-present)

Xitlaly is an Environmental Systems Science student at UC Merced. Her interests center on environmental justice, specifically in intersectional environmentalism, which focuses on an inclusive approach to the environmental movement. She’s also a recycling/composting student assistant on campus working towards UC Merced’s Triple Zero commitment goal of zero waste. In her free time, she goes out with friends and occasionally plays tennis. She enjoys reading, listening to Bad Bunny, painting, watching Studio Ghibli films, and traveling.

Lab Alumni:

Dr. Brandon Hendrickson, PhD (2017-2022)

Dr. Jorge A. Montiel, PhD (2015-2021)

Dr. Jackie Shay, PhD (2015-2021). Current position: Associate Director, Center for Engaged Teaching and Learning, UC Merced.

Dr. Molly Stephens, Project Scientist (2015-2019). Current position: Executive Director, Sierra Nevada Research Institute.

Dr. Dannise Ruiz-Ramos, Postdoctoral Researcher (2017-2019). Current position: Scientist, USGS.

Erin Dickman, MS (2014-2016). Current position: Restoration Ecologist, Yosemite National Park

Elizabeth Green, Lab Manager

Abel Campos-Melendez, BS

Mimi Pomephimkham, BS

Sunshine Lopez, BS

Yazmin Lommel, BS

Angelo Aragon, BS

Alfredo Enriquez, BS

Jasmine Ramirez Bonilla, BS

Jenna Heckel, BS

Amanda Tse, BS

Sherman Yu, BS

William Higson, BS

Grant Lvison-Lane, BS

Tyler Rackelmann, BS

Abel Campos-Melendez, BS

Kimberly Du, BS

Marcel Dube, BS

Adriana Gomez, BS

Jenna Heckel, BS

Teanna Herrera, BS

Kara Kutsuris, BS

Kehily Maldonado, BS

Flor Nunez, BS

Michelle On, BS

Leslie Paredes, BS

Valeria Rivera, BS

Kimberly Rodriguez, BS

Alyze Salan, BS

Gilma Sevilla-Alvarez, BS

Michael Spaeth, BS