Katherine A. Preston, PhD

Associate Director, Program in Human Biology

450 Serra Mall, Bldg 20, Room 21E

Stanford University

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.

The Program in Human Biology