Katherine A. Preston, PhD
Associate Director, Program in Human Biology
450 Serra Mall, Bldg 20, Room 21E
Stanford, CA 94305-2160
kpreston at stanford dot edu
My research is focused on understanding how multiple traits, whose functions are interdependent,
can evolve more or less independently while preserving overall function in an organism. More specifically,
my work aims to reconstruct evolutionary changes in anatomy and physiology that have allowed
native plants in California to tolerate drought and toxic soils.
I am also very interested in the way humans think about plants, especially those we eat. For several years
I taught an IntroSem called "Edible Botany" which considered food plants from a botanical perspective -- in other
words, food plants as plants with particular structural and chemical properties along with a rich evolutionary
history. In Hum Bio, I teach HB113 "The Biologies of Humans and Plants." That course explores the biological
interdependence of humans and plants, particularly the ways in which we have imposed selection pressures
and ecological change on one another.