My research explores the processes that create plant biodiversity by investigating the interaction between genetic change and ecology in a community context. I aim to identify the population level evolutionary forces responsible for population divergence in order to delineate independently evolving lineages and species boundaries. This work is conducted in a phylogenetic context to facilitate the detection of current, continuing and historical processes. Because microbial communities influence the ecology, evolution and fitness of plants my research also explores how plant:microbe interactions influence patterns of community structure and diversity. This holistic approach combines classic field experiments, a variety of novel methodological approaches (coalescent-based phylogenetics) and powerful molecular techniques (454-pyrosequencing and genomic fingerprinting). Throughout my career I have traveled to the bottom of the Grand Canyon seeking rare roses, tromped through wet pine savannahs in Louisiana to observe carnivorous plants and combed the island of Madagascar for new species of Hibiscus. Right here in Michigan I intend to study the evolution of local populations of carnivorous pitcher plants (Sarracenia purpurea) while continuing to work on the phylogeny and population structure of Hibiscus species endemic to Madagascar. Through teaching I will share my enthusiasm for the flora of Michigan as well as my broader knowledge of plant diversity throughout the world. Students have a wide variety of resources here at EMU to explore plant diversity, including the EMC herbarium (a museum of dried, labeled plants located in Mark Jefferson), the greenhouse collection and Michigan's rich flora!