• Title Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences
  • Education PhD. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Area of Interest Evolutionary genetics, ecological genetics and genomics, ecological entomology, biodiversity genomics, tropical ecology, beetles
  • Area of Study Integrated studies of biodiversity genomics
  • CV

Current Research

Our lab is driven by two fundamental questions: How is variation maintained in natural populations? How does genomic architecture influence diversity? To address these questions we integrate ecology, evolutionary biology, and genomics to understand the maintenance of intraspecific variation in natural populations, and how this variation lends itself to the adaptability and resiliency of species. We utilize next-generation sequencing technologies coupled with a deep understanding of natural history to investigate the presence and maintenance of ecologically relevant traits and how these differ within and between populations. Our current work focuses on color variation in beetles across the Isthmus of Panama.

The order Coleoptera (beetles) contains about 400,000 described species, encompassing a remarkable degree of variation in life history, morphology, habitat usage, diet, and more. Using beetles as our focus system, our approach incorporates a variety of ecological techniques including invertebrate bioassays such as mate choice and survival trials, predation studies, host-preference trials, and cuticular hydrocarbon studies. We also use genomics technologies, including RAD-sequencing, linkage mapping, pool-sequencing, transcriptomics, and comparative genomics to investigate the genomic mechanisms responsible for phenotypic variation.

Given the importance of diversity and equity in producing science representative of society and the lack of diversity in EEB fields, we strive to create safe and inclusive environments while addressing the systemic issues that prevent Black scientists, Indigenous scientists, and other scientists of color from thriving in STEM fields. To do this, we pursue projects with a lens for equitable research, in improving resources to make institutions more inclusive, and in science communication.


Selected Publications

  • Strickland L.R., Donald Windsor, Carla E. Cáceres. (2022). Variation in contact chemical cues may mediate differential predator response in the color polymorphic tortoise beetle, Chelymorpha alternans. Ecological Entomology DOI:10.1111/een.13191
  • Halsey, S.J., Strickland, L.R., Scott-Richardson, M., Perrin-Stowe, T., and Massenburg, L. (2020). Elevate, don’t assimilate, to revolutionize the experience of scientists who are Black, Indigenous and people of colour. Nat Ecol Evol 4, 1291–1293.
  • Puritty, C., Strickland, L.R., Alia, E., Blonder, B., Klein, E., Kohl, M.T., McGee, E., Quintana, M., Ridley, R.E., Tellman, B., et al. (2017). Without inclusion, diversity initiatives may not be enough. Science 357, 1101–1102.
  • Strickland, L.R., Arias, C.F., Rodriguez, V., Johnston, J.S., McMillan, W.O., and Windsor, D. (2018). Inheritance, distribution, and genetic differentiation of a color polymorphism in Panamanian populations of the tortoise beetle, Chelymorpha alternans (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Heredity; DOI.
  • Strickland, L.R., Fuller, R.C., Windsor, D., and Cáceres, C.E. (2021). A potential role for overdominance in the maintenance of colour variation in the Neotropical tortoise beetle, Chelymorpha alternans. Journal of Evolutionary Biology; DOI.

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