Elizabeth Borer

Professor of Ecology

Distinguished McKnight University Professor

Wardle Chair of Microbial Ecology

Global change research program

Research in my lab broadly addresses the question:  How do global changes, including atmospheric pollution and species invasions and extinctions, change the composition and function of ecological communities?  

My interests in this question are broad, and my work ranges from transcontinental species invasions to interactions among microbes sharing a host. 

My current work focuses on how environmental changes 

(1) control grassland biodiversity, species interactions, and ecosystem function and 

(2) affect microbial communities within hosts and across landscapes, including 

(3) disease transmission and risk.  

I use ecological theory to guide my work, with the goal of developing a predictive understanding of these issues.  Although my interests reach far beyond grasslands, much of my empirical work involves studying plants, insects, microbes, and disease in grasslands.  

Guidance for globally-distributed, collaborative research

I have co-designed and co-led globally-distributed, collaborative research networks since 2006. (NutNet and DRAGNet -- also see my Research tab). 

Here are some useful guidance documents we have produced:

Much of my research and mentoring is done in collaboration with Dr. Eric Seabloom. Follow this link to go to our joint lab website.


I am committed to creating and sustaining a diverse, inclusive, and supportive environment in the lab and in the larger scientific community. This commitment is fully consistent with the University of Minnesota's College of Biological Sciences that promotes a self-aware science community, active institutional efforts and individual advocacy to remove barriers for the success of all community members across differences, including race, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, geography, and socioeconomic status or background. 

I go beyond this by clarifying that, for me, this is not just a list. I value each of these forms of diversity and their intersections because I believe that creative progress in a field requires diversity of thought and experiences. Importantly, I act on my commitment to fostering an inclusive scientific community by active attention to the needs arising from the lived experience of each individual in my lab. I am committed to working with each student and postdoc I mentor to identify, understand, and remove barriers, to explore opportunities, and to develop actionable plans to support their success.

email: borer AT umn.edu

Phone: 612.624.9529

Skype: elizabeth_borer

Fax: 612.624.6777

Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior

1479 Gortner Avenue, 

140 Gortner Laboratory, 

St. Paul, MN 55108