Bryan Piatkowski, Ph.D.
As an evolutionary biologist, my research broadly aims to better understand the dynamic relationship between organisms and their environment. I work in the Biosciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory as a Liane B. Russell Distinguished Staff Fellow. I integrate experimental and computational techniques to gain a predictive understanding of plant evolution in the context of environmental change. The grand vision for my research is to establish robust linkages between genes, organismal traits, and the environment in plant lineages that are important to solving the climate crisis.
Towards this end, my current research pursues two major aims:
Understand how climate gradients impact the evolutionary trajectories of plant lineages
Elucidate the molecular genetics of plant stress resilience via secondary metabolism
In this framework, I utilize poplar trees (Populus spp.) and Sphagnum peat mosses as model systems. Poplar has been targeted by the U.S. Department of Energy as one of the leading feedstock candidates for biofuel production, while peat mosses have an extraordinary impact on global climate due to their ability to sequester vast amounts of carbon and their role as keystone species of Northern Hemisphere peatland ecosystems. These efforts will aid in the preservation of biodiversity and help us move towards a more sustainable future.