Leslie S. Babonis joins EEB faculty

By: Staff,  A&S Communications
August 20, 2020

Name and title:

Leslie S. Babonis, Assistant Professor, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Academic focus:

Evolutionary development, the origin of novelty, invertebrate biodiversity

Current research project: 

I study novelty. Specifically, I am interested in understanding the developmental mechanisms that give rise to new animal traits as a means to understand the processes driving the evolution of biodiversity. One of my favorite projects aims to understand how cnidocytes (the cells that give jellyfish their “sting”) arose through co-option of a neural gene regulatory network.                

Previous positions: 

  • Research Assistant Scientist, University of Florida/Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience, 2017-2020
  • Mayor, Town of Marineland, Florida, 2013-2020
  • Postdoctoral Associate, University of Florida/Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience, 2013-2017
  • Postdoctoral Associate, University of Hawaii/Kewalo Marine Laboratory, 2011-2013

Academic background: 

  • Ph.D., Zoology/biology, University of Florida, 2011
  • B.S., Biology/marine science, University of Miami, 2003

Last book read:

“Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst” by Robert M. Sapolsky

In your own time/when not working:

Birding, cooking/eating, and learning about winter

Courses you’re most looking forward to teaching:

Invertebrate Biodiversity, Evolution

What most excites you about Cornell:

I am equally thrilled to have the privilege of working at a university that has been home to some of the greatest scientists and science-educators in recent history and the opportunity to engage with the current members of the Cornell community who are pushing science to new levels of excellence.




  Leslie S. Babonis