Sunflowers, daisies, and ragworts: Oh my!*

We have broad interests in plant evolution, genomics, and biodiversity. In the field, greenhouse, and lab we ask questions about mechanisms that drive and maintain natural variation, plus those that underlie phenotypic diversity. We use genetic and genomic approaches to understand evolutionary processes that have led to the remarkable genetic, phenotypic, and ecological diversity present in nature. *But always #MandelianGenetics

About us

We study sunflowers and their relatives to understand mechanisms that drive and maintain biodiversity. We seek to understand the genetic and genomic basis of phenotypic diversity (mostly in plants, but snakes and microbes are cool too).

Lately we’ve been really excited about phylogenomics and studying the evolution of novel or unique traits. We welcome visitors to the lab (for a few months or the whole summer!) so if you are interested in applying new techniques to your study system, get in contact with us! See our research and publications for our latest work.

We have been working a lot during COVID to find ways to connect the Compositae sunflower family community. A few of these efforts include a monthly seminar series + journal club, and a new peer-reviewed publication.


Spring 2022

Erika’s paper makes the cover of Castanea!

Moore, E.R. C.M. Siniscalchi, J.R. Mandel. (2022) Reevaluating genetic diversity and structure of Helianthus verticillatus (Asteraceae) after the discovery of new populations. Castanea. 

Erika wins several awards at the Annual Association of Southeastern Biologists Meeting! Plus we got to see Carol!


See also: 2022 Richard and Minnie Windler Award Recipients; Moore et al. 2022.

We update CBio on lab happenings!

Sam and Keiana join the lab as undergraduate researchers! Welcome!

Masi joins the lab as a research associate! Welcome!

Fall, 2021

Jorge joins the lab as a Research Associate! Welcome!

Ram gets a great job and leaves us! 😭 Congrats to him!!

Summer, 2021

Erika and Jennifer join the Editorial Board for the journal, CAPITULUM, check out our articles here:

We’re going to Botany and Evolution! See you there!

Spring, 2021

Mike successfully defends his Master’s thesis!

The lab will present at this year’s virtual Association of Southeastern Biologists.

Jennifer gives a virtual talk at the California Botanic Garden.

We are learning Python!!! What did the Python say when he came out of his shell? Print(“Hello World!”)

Fall, 2020

Erika is a PhD Candidate!! Congrats to her!!

Mike is a Masters Candidate!! Congrats to him!!

Jennifer is a new Associate Editor at Systematic Biology.

The final chapter in our carrot work with Patrick Abbot and the late Dave McCauley accepted at Journal of Heredity: “Mandel, J.R., A.J. Ramsey, J.M. Holley, V.A. Scott, D. Mody, P. Abbot. Disentangling complex inheritance patterns of plant organellar genomes: an example from carrot.”

Bort joins the Jetz lab at Yale as an Associate Research Scientist and working with the Map of Life to understand and quantify the diversity of Compositae (daisies, sunflowers, asters, thistles, etc) at a global scale, as well as to understand the role of extreme environments in driving plant diversification. Congrats!!!! Check out his website for all his latest updates here.

Summer, 2020

Jennifer joins the Editorial Board at Journal of Systematics and Evolution.

Letter to the Editor with Deise Gonçalves, Bob Jansen, and Tracey Ruhlman out at Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.

Ram’s Antennaria paper is published in Systematic Botany.

 Antennaria are dioecious perennial herbs distributed mainly in the Holarctic Region, with their major center of diversity in the Rocky Mountains of Western North America. The genus comprises 33 known sexual diploid/tetraploid species and at least five polyploid agamic complexes which mostly reproduce by forming asexual seeds. Our study provide a framework for future evolutionary studies of Antennaria, including speciation, origin(s) of polyploidy, and agamospermy in the genus.





Spring, 2020

We are Zoomed out of our minds.

Carol Siniscalchi joins the Folk Lab at Mississippi State University. Check out her website here!

Fall, 2019

Dr. Robert (Bort) Edwards joins the Mandel Lab!

Work from Nantucket on pollinator visitation in the presence of non-native species is out by Adam Ramsey and Mike Ballou. Check out their findings in Rhodora.

To address whether the presence of D. carota affects the pollination of native species on Nantucket, we sought to answer three questions: 1) Does the presence of D. carotaincrease pollinator visits and diversity on Sericocarpus asteroides? 2) Does the removal of D. carota restore pollinator visits and diversities to those found in plots with only S. asteroides? and 3) Is there a relationship between the amount of heterospecific pollen and distance to the nearest D. carota population?



Carol Siniscalchi’s paper in Frontiers in Plant Sciences is published. 

In this study, we present the first attempt at studying the phylogeny of Vernonieae using phylogenomics. Even though our sampling includes only around 4% of the diversity of the tribe, we achieved complete resolution of the phylogeny with high support recovering approximately 700 nuclear markers obtained through target capture. We also analyzed the effect of missing data using two different matrices with different number of markers and the difference between concatenated and gene tree analysis.





Summer 2019

Botany in Tucson!

Spring 2019

Jennifer is named Assistant Director for The Center for Biodiversity Research!

Dr. Jennifer R Mandel


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