Conner Lab

W.K. Kellogg Biological Station

Michigan State University

Students in my lab can choose to do research in any area of plant-insect interactions, evolutionary ecology, and/or ecological genetics, or in the application of these basic concepts to environmental problems, including invasive species, biological control, ecological effects of transgene escape, global climate change, and conservation genetics. Current and recent Ph.D research have focused on natural selection, adaptation, constraint, and mutation, mainly in floral traits. Species studied include wild radish, Arabidopsis lyrata and A. thaliana, five species of milkweed, and blue-eyed Mary.


I am based at MSU’s Kellogg Biological Station, located about 65 miles from the main campus. KBS is really a great place, and unlike any other field station I know of. We have thirteen faculty who are here full time, all in ecology and evolution. We all teach some on the main campus (we teach about half of the grad courses in the EEBB program, see below), and also here at KBS in the summer. Our lab and greenhouse facilities are better than many (most?) universities, and we have almost 5,000 acres of land for field work, ranging from experimental ag fields to old fields to mature forest. The main site here is the former summer home of W.K. Kellogg, so we are on a beautiful lake. Our students generally spend their first one or two years on the MSU campus in East Lansing, taking courses and teaching, with summers here, and then move here to finish their research.


Applying to MSU is a little confusing, because we have a degree-granting program in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior (EEBB), but you also need to be accepted by a department. I am in EEBB, the Plant Biology department, and also have an appointment in Zoology. I recommend applying to the Plant Biology department directly; you can join the EEBB program later if you wind up at MSU. Let me know if there are problems with applying, as I can likely solve them easily.


I think MSU has one of the best groups in evolutionary ecology and ecological genetics on the planet, particularly for plants, including:



                                Plant                               Animal/microbe  

                                Jeff Conner                    Jenny Boughman

                                Yuehua Cui                    Ian Dworkin

                                Brian Epperson              Rich Lenski

                                Andy Jarosz                   Barb Lundrigan

                                Jennifer Lau                   Kim Scribner  

                                Alan Prather                   Alex Shingleton  

                                Tao Sang                       Barry Williams  

                                Doug Schemske      

                                Shinhan Shiu 

                                Nate Swenson



These folks are in different departments, but all in EEBB, and many are new. It is a very interactive group; for example, I have collaborated or am in active collaborations with Prather, Schemske, Shiu, and Dworkin, and interact often with most of the others on this list. I run an evolutionary discussion group each spring attended by many of the faculty above and their students. 


One way to get a better idea of my program, and KBS/MSU in general, is to contact some of my current and recent former students; they are listed, with email addresses, on the People page. In 2003 I was named outstanding graduate advisor of the College of Natural Sciences at MSU, based on a nomination by my students.


Give me a call or send an email if you have questions, need more information, or want to discuss my research or research ideas.

Prospective graduate students

Jeffrey K. Conner

3700 East Gull Lake Drive

Hickory Corners, MI 49060