Our Department

In the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) we value science and education grounded in the natural history of organisms, and have a desire to understand the patterns and processes that structure communities and ecosystems, and drive evolutionary change over all geographical and time scales. As new methods allow us to gain insight into ecological and evolutionary mechanism and function, we seek to refine fundamental concepts, to integrate findings into novel theory, and to contribute to solutions for environmental challenges. As a place of work, EEB is dynamic and friendly, committed to antiracism, and to be a safe space without harassment or discrimination of any sort, and to be as inclusive as possible (see our Diversity and Inclusion web page).

EEB faculty, students and staff pursue topics across a broad set of interlinked foci, including biogeochemistry and ecosystem science, community ecology and population biology, sustainability, environment and conservation, organismal biology, intimate organismal interactions and chemical ecology, evolutionary patterns and processes, and biological educational research. Follow this link to view Our Department in Action gallery.

Research Spotlight

During summer 2020, Drew Harvell, postdoc Lillian Aoki and Ph.D. student Olivia Graham traveled to the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington state to study the pathogenic causes of seagrass wasting disease. Similar to how COVID-19 has swept through society, marine disease agents — like viruses, bacteria and protists — can have massive impacts that ripple through ecosystems. The triggers for epidemics in nature are just as complex,  involving a combination of variables such as host stress, environmental conditions and changes in biological communities. Read "Hunting eelgrass disease in the San Juan Islands" for the full story.

At Cornell CALS, the Harvell Lab is working on a collaborative project with six other universities and the Smithsonian Institution, to study a disease outbreak in West Coast eelgrass

Olivia Graham, Ph.D. student in the Harvell Lab, holds up an eelgrass sample on the San Juan Islands (photo by Olivia Graham).
(a) A Black ornithologist is approached by law enforcement; (b) A Sikh entomologist experiences a hateful landscape; (c) A bisexual ichthyologist is accosted by hate speech; (d) A deaf botanist is verbally abused due to her disability. Illustration by Cal

“As a result of identity prejudice, certain individuals are more vulnerable to conflict and violence when they are in the field. It is paramount that all fieldworkers be informed of the risks some colleagues may face, so that they can define best practice together.” Amelia-Juliette Demery and Monique Pipkin: Safe fieldwork strategies for at-risk individuals, their supervisors and institutions. Nat Ecol Evol (2020).