Turner lab @ ISU

Ecological Genomics & Invasion Biology

Bleeding hand holds vine constricting the world.

Invasive plants, spread by human hands, swallow the world. Mayan-stylized glyph art by Monarobot.


In the Turner Lab at ISU, we focus on the ecological interactions and evolutionary feedback between humans and plants, which affects humanity at individual and global scales. We wish to contribute (and to develop the skills of future scientists to contribute) to our understanding of range expansion and rapid adaptation to novel environments (both abiotic and biotic) in anthropogenic contexts.

Our research focuses on evolutionary ecology and invasion biology. We combine experimental, genomic, ancient DNA, and geo-referenced distribution data to investigate plant ecological genetics, particularly rapid adaptation to novel environments and the evolution of ecologically important traits. We are particularly interested in testing ecological-evolutionary theories that attempt to explain successful range expansion. 

Undergrad interested in research?

Dr. Turner leads a Vertically Integrated Project (VIP) research experience course related to the GEM3 research program (BIOL 2280/4480/5580 AMOEBA/Mentored Research Alliance), which counts as credit towards a biology degree. The course consists of a small group of undergrads at different levels, along with graduate students and the professor,  working together as a research team to address a question in biology. This may include field work, lab work, reading scientific journal articles and becoming familiar with protocols and practices of scientific research. Undergraduates can take it several times and continue gaining skills in research and mentorship, and continue to work on a long term research program. Currently our theme is "Variation of Early Life History Traits of Big Sagebrush." The particular project we are working on involves the ecology, physiology, and evolution of big sagebrush, growth chamber experiments, and field work at the Sterling WMA common garden. If you are interested in ecology, conservation, plant biology, field work, etc, this could be a great opportunity for you. Please contact Dr. Turner (kathrynturner [at] isu.edu) to learn more!

Other opportunities for undergraduate research in the Turner lab are described below.

Sagebrush steppe landscape.

Site of ongoing and future science! ISU Barton Road Ecological Research Area. Image by Kathryn Turner.

Prospective Lab members

If you are interested in the ecological and evolutionary impacts of human disturbance on plant systems, such as through biological invasion or land use change, then is this the lab for you! We work in natural, disturbed, and agricultural systems. Particularly, there may be funding available for students and postdocs who want to work in beautiful *big sagebrush steppe systems* through the GEM3 research program.

Specific positions will be advertised below and on Twitter (@KTInvasion). Please contact Dr. Turner at turnkat2[at]isu.edu for more information, even if no specific positions are currently available, or if the positions below do not perfectly fit your interests! Additionally, candidates who would be interested in submitting applications for independent fellowship funding, such as the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology, Smith Postdoctoral Fellowship in Conservation Research, or USDA NIFA AFRI fellowships on topics overlapping or adjacent to our research interests are welcome to reach out to discuss the possibility.

Open Positions in the Turner Lab

Graduate students

Check back in the future!


NOW HIRING: Undergraduate research assistant for Spring 2023. Details here.

Applications from interested undergraduate students are accepted at any time. Undergraduates are essential contributors to research in the Turner lab. It is therefore the policy of the Turner lab to compensate undergraduate lab members through credit hours, the ISU Career Path Internship Program, or other grant funds. Research experience can be an important part of your undergraduate experience, particularly for those that wish to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, or medicine (STEM). Many projects may help you gain field, wet lab, herbarium, or computer science and bioinformatics skills. We also sometimes have specific opportunities for students to work directly with a graduate student or postdoc on an experimental portion of their project. See our People page for descriptions of the research projects of current lab members. If you are interested in joining our lab as an undergraduate researcher, please carefully read this description and complete this online form so we can get to know you. 

Postdoctoral fellows

Check back in the future!

Other opportunities

Check back in the future!

Header image: Winter wheat field infested with invasive Chorispora tenella, Wyoming. Image by Andrew Kniss.