Systematics, evolution, and biogeography of plants

How are species related, how have they evolved, why do they occur where they do? We study these and related questions mostly in plants, especially in the Hengduan Mountains of China and environs. We also tackle conceptual and methodological problems in systematics and biogeography.

Recent publications

Li, Q., H. Sun, D. E. Boufford, B. Bartholomew, P. W. Fritsch, J. Chen, T. Deng, and R. H. Ree. 2021. New Phytologist

The origins of coca: museum genomics reveals multiple independent domestications from progenitor Erythroxylum gracilipes

Join the lab

I accept PhD students through the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago, and can co-advise graduate students at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Undergraduates, postdocs, sabbatical visitors: please inquire, funding may be possible through Field Museum internships and scholarships.


Richard Ree

Curator of Flowering Plants, Field Museum

Co-Director, Grainger Bioinformatics Center

Faculty Associate, U. Chicago Committee on Evolutionary Biology

Lecturer, U. Chicago Biological Sciences Collegiate Division

Matthew Nelsen

Research Scientist at Field Museum; Ree Lab alumnus and current associate

Macroevolutionary dynamics of symbiosis; lichen systematics

Ryan Fuller

Ph.D. candidate, U. Chicago Committee on Evolutionary Biology

Systematics of alpine Rhododendron in the Hengduan Mountains

Qin Li

Postdoctoral Researcher, Grainger Bioinformatics Center

Floristic regionalization of the Hengduan Mountains; community assembly and niche evolution in Rhododendron and Mimulus

Jing-Yi Lu

Ph.D. candidate, U. Chicago Committee on Evolutionary Biology

Pollinator shifts, floral divergence, and speciation in Aeschynanthus (Gesneriaceae)

Dawson White

Postdoctoral researcher, Grainger Bioinformatics Center

Systematics of coca and its wild relatives (Erythroxylum spp.)

Population genetics and spectral reflectance in Alaskan Dryas


Graduate students



  • Winston Wilson

  • Christina Ziegler

  • Shrabya Timsina

  • Megan Vats (Loyola)

  • Joshua Stevens-Stein (U. Chicago)

  • David Park (IMSA)

  • Jim Li (IMSA)

  • Brian Wray (NEIU)

  • Ciera Martinez (NEIU)

  • Diana Jolles