Manpreet Dhami

Postdoctoral fellow
E-mail: mdhami at stanford dot edu

Manpreet is interested in species interactions and how these networks drive evolutionary outcomes. She completed her PhD in 2012 at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, with Mike Taylor and Jacqueline Beggs. Her PhD research focussed on the previously undiscovered intracellular symbionts of scale insects. She studied the host-symbiont coevolution and traced the ecological significance of this relationship. She received her BSc (Honours) in 2009 and BSc in 2008, also from the University of Auckland. Before moving to Stanford, she worked as a research scientist at the Plant Health and Environment Laboratory of New Zealand, where she developed molecular diagnostics for the identification of some of the world's worst invasive species. In May 2014, Manpreet joined the lab as a postdoctoral fellow to study the community dynamics of Mimulus aurantiacus nectar microbes.


Po-Ju Ke

PhD student, to start in September 2014
E-mail: pojuke at stanford dot edu

Po-Ju is interested in understanding how interactions between plants and microbes influence plant community properties and ecosystem functioning. He finished his Master's degree at National Taiwan University in 2013. Supervised by Takeshi Miki and Tzung-Su Ding, his thesis focused on indirect interactions between litter dynamics and soil microbes, and how the relative importance of plant traits to plant-soil feedback changes with microbial community composition. After receiving his Master's, Po-Ju worked as a research assistant in Miki's lab, investigating bacterial functionality in a reservoir and conducting theoretical extensions of plant-soil feedback. For his PhD study, he is interested in applying both theoretical and empirical approaches to studying the linkage between traits, plant-soil interactions, and community structure.


Devin Leopold

PhD student
E-mail: devin.leopold at gmail dot com

Devin received his BA from Hampshire College after completing a thesis project investigating lignin decomposition by white-rot fungi. Following graduation, he moved to the Island of Hawaifi, where he worked in conservation and ecological research for the last seven years, including 3 years of working as a technician in the lab, studying interactive effects of introduced rodents and habitat size on canopy food webs. This project utilizes a native Hawaiian forest on Mauna Loa Volcano naturally fragmented by lava flows. In fall 2012, Devin transitioned into a PhD student position in the lab. He plans to study plant community ecology using the same fragmented forest as a model system. He is concurrently working towards a Masters of Geographic Information Systems degree from Penn State University.


Holly Moeller

PhD student
E-mail: hollyvm at stanford dot edu

Holly received her BA in Chemistry and Biology at Rutgers University, where she worked with Paul Falkowski and Matthew Johnson on acquired photosynthesis in Antarctic microbes. After receiving her MSc and two years of training in ecological modelling with Scott Doney and Mike Neubert at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and MIT, Holly joined the lab in fall 2010 to study acquired metabolic potential in the ancient tree-fungal mutualism. She uses both mathematical and empirical approaches to explore "metabolic bet hedging," the idea that trees, like human stock investors, maintain a speciose portfolio of mycorrhizal fungi in the face of an unpredictably variable environment. Her work has been funded in part through an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, and an ARCS Fellowship. She writes the "Seeing Green" column for The Stanford Daily.


Rachel Vannette

Postdoctoral fellow
E-mail: raleva at stanford dot edu

Rachel completed her PhD in 2011 at the University of Michigan. She is broadly interested in chemically mediated species interactions and their implications for broader community dynamics. With her PhD advisor, Mark Hunter, she studied the role of nutrients and plant defense compounds in mediating multitrophic interactions among symbiotic soil fungi, their host plant, Asclepias syriaca, and aboveground herbivores including Danaus plexippus and Aphis asclepiadis. In the lab, Rachel examines how changes in the chemistry of floral nectar mediates community assembly of nectar-dwelling yeast and bacteria in Mimulus aurantiacus. She also examines how microbially mediated changes in nectar chemistry may affect pollinator visitation and plant fitness. Another project, in collaboration with Tad and Devin, examines arbuscular mycorrhizal communities in forest fragments of varying size in Hawaifi. Rachel is an LSRF Postdoctoral Fellow sponsored by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


Meike Wittmann

Postdoctoral fellow
E-mail: meikew at stanford dot edu

Meike is interested in theoretical ecology and evolution, especially in developing mathematical models for the interaction of ecological and evolutionary processes. In January 2014, she finished her PhD on stochastic models for the ecology and evolution of introduced species under the supervision of Dirk Metzler and Wilfried Gabriel at the University of Munich (LMU) in Germany. There she also obtained a Bachelor's degree in Biology in 2008 and a Master's degree in Evolution, Ecology, and Systematics in 2010. In February 2014, Meike moved to Stanford as a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Computational, Evolutionary, and Human Genomics. Co-supervised by Dmitri Petrov and Tad, she is investigating how local adaptation and priority effects influence the maintenance of diversity in a metacommunity.


Peter Zee

Postdoctoral fellow
E-mail: peterzee at stanford dot edu

Peter received his BS in Plant Sciences from UC Santa Cruz in 2006. He then moved to Indiana University in Bloomington, where he did his PhD research with Jim Bever and Greg Velicer. For his thesis research, he studied how a variety of contexts--genetic, social and environmental--have the potential to alter ecological and evolutionary processes. He focused his work on bacterial populations, using experimental evolutionary lineages of the social bacterium Myxococcus xanthus. He then did a short postdoc at ETH Zurich, studying the evolution of predator-prey interactions in a laboratory system. Peter joined the lab in 2013 as an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow (co-supervised with Daniel Fisher). He is working on the impacts of stochastic ecological immigration on evolutionary diversification.


Kai Zhu

Postdoctoral fellow
E-mail: kai dot zhu at stanford dot edu

Kai is interested in global change ecology, especially in models to understand biodiversity. He was a PhD student in ecology with Jim Clark and MS student in statistics with Alan Gelfand at Duke University. His PhD research was primarily in population and community ecology, focusing on biogeography and demography of eastern US forests. He is also broadly interested in statistical applications in ecology. Previously, he received MS in ecology and BS in physics from China. In May 2014, Kai came to Stanford as a postdoc in Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology. Co-supervised by Chris Field, Nona Chiariello, and Tad, he is analyzing and synthesizing the Jasper Ridge Global Change Experiment.


Akira Fukami

Honorary member
No email yet

Akira joined the lab as an honorary member when he was born in January 2012.



In addition, we always have undergraduate students in our lab, either working on their thesis projects or assisting others to gain research experience. This summer (2014), we have Julia Tsai and Anna Wietelmann working as undergraduate assistants on nectar microbe research.



May 2014 - Stanford - Lab members with families and friends



Former members


Research affiliate - Mifuyu Nakajima

Lab technician - Marie-Pierre Gauthier

Post-doctoral fellow - Ben Callahan, Kabir Peay

PhD students - Melinda Belisle, Matthew Knope

Visiting PhD student - Caroline Tucker

Undergraduate students - Safiyyah Abdul-Khabir, Breanna Allen, Sophia Christel, Simone Barley-Greenfield, Mitch Ginsburg, Ashley Good, Grace Goldberg, Whitney Hoehn, Diana Huynh, Nathan Kim, Hannah Lynch, Katrina Luna, Sharia Mayfield, Colin Olito, Kelsie Pombo, Rachel Powell, Kim Thai, Aaron Wacholder, Jeremy Watson

Field Studies Program undergraduate students - Daniel Halford, Tess Morgridge, Liz Parissenti, Jenny Rempel, Jake Riley, Nessarose Schear, David Zimmerman, Amy Zuckerwise

High-school student interns - Julia Borden, Christine Kyauk, Arjun Pillai, Roman Rosado, Jose Rosales