Kate McCulloh

Position title: Associate Professor

Phone: +1 608 890 3042

324 Birge Hall
430 Lincoln Dr
Madison, WI 53706

Email: kmcculloh <at>

Kate’s CV

Current Lab Members

Sam Anderson

Position title: Graduate Student

Email: swanderson<at>

My research is generally focused on the ecological implications of plant morphology and physiology. Specifically, I am focused on how variations in ploidy level impacts woody species at the physiological level.  Ploidy is known to cause a variety of physiological changes in plant lineages, but how these changes impact ecology and abiotic stress tolerance is a relatively young field.  With a background in education and land restoration, I hope my research can foster new insight and connection to local ecology within the broader community.

Steven Augustine

Position title: Graduate Student

Email: spaugustine<at>

Pinus is a diverse genus of conifers, with 75 species in North America alone. They are unique in their distribution, as they are typically confined to alpine regions, deserts, or fire disturbed environments. My research will focus will on how climate has driven specific physiological adaptations in Pinus, from their seeds to their needles. Much of my research will look at what traits promote drought tolerance at different life stages and how they differ between white and yellow pines.

Lena Berry

Position title: Graduate Student

Email: lnberry<at>

Cycads are often referred to as “living fossils” with lineages dating back hundreds of millions of years. Despite their extensive lineages, cycads are an understudied group of plants. While their morphology is seemingly similar throughout history, their physiology has diversified over time allowing them to remain extant. My research will focus on elucidating the hydraulic function and water use strategies of cycads through the lens of both physiological traits/functionality and ecological/environmental influences.

Rachel Jordan

Position title: Graduate Student

Email: rkjordan<at>

I am broadly interested in the versatility of conifers and their winter carbon balances in a changing climate. My research focuses on the physiological tradeoffs of active vs. inactive responses to midwinter warm periods and the extent to which these strategies may differ within forests or even a single species. A species’ relative ability to “take advantage” of mid-winter thaws (and survive subsequent re-freezing) may influence its future survival and distribution as these warm periods become longer and more frequent. I aim to use this research to inform decision-making in the forestry and tree farming industries.

Christopher Krieg

Position title: Research Associate

Email: ckrieg <at>

My research interests broadly aim to understand the evolutionary and ecological significance of plant function. In particular, a common theme in my work is how adaptive plant physiological traits impact species distributions and ecologies. To conduct my work, I often integrate diverse methods including plant gas-exchange, hydraulics, stable isotopes, functional anatomy, species niche and distribution modelling, and often in an evolutionary context. The primary areas of my long-term research interests are multifarious and range from the ecophysiology of polyploid plants, conservation physiology of cycads, drought responses in vascular plants, and the phenotypic and functional consequences of domestication in crop legumes. For more information, check out my website

Jeannine Richards

Credentials: PhD

Position title: Research Associate

Email: jrichards7<at>

I am interested in how plants respond to their environments—including how functional traits affect distributions and how abiotic changes affect physiological processes. My main focus is on epiphytes—plants, like many orchids and bromeliads, that grow on other plants without connection to the ground. That work has taken me into the forest canopy previously, but I am currently investigating whether we can use plants in living collections at botanical gardens as a proxy for wild plants to address these questions. My other area of interest is in quantifying the environmental benefits of agroforestry, where crops or livestock are raised underneath the shade of trees. Agroforestry can support biodiversity and provide many services for farmers, offering potential solutions for climate change and integrating conservation goals into working landscapes.

Duncan Smith

Position title: Research Associate

Email: ddsmith3 <at>

Duncan’s CV

The coordination of plant architecture, xylem anatomy and stomatal responses represents a “hydraulic strategy” that should greatly influence a plant’s ability to survive. I am interested in the strategies that different species of plants employ that allow them to succeed under varied environmental conditions. Much of my PhD work focused on plants experiencing more or less ideal conditions but in the McCulloh lab I will address responses to drought and its alleviation. Understanding these responses will be increasingly important to predict landscape-level changes in a warming climate. These issues will be addressed through field and lab studies and modeling.

Former Lab Members

Maegan Gagne

Position title: PhD, 2019

Kelly Kerr

Position title: Masters degree, 2014

Kim O’Keefe

Position title: Research Associate 2017-2021

Amanda Salvi

Position title: PhD, 2020

Alex Wenthe

Position title: Masters degree, 2017