Sarah Mathews in the field

Sarah Mathews

Shirley C. Tucker Chair in Plant Systematics
SEE Division
MS in Biology: Montana State University, 1990  
PhD in Biology: Montana State University, 1995
Post Doctorate: Harvard University, 2000


Office: 326 Life Sciences Building
Lab: 363 Life Sciences Building
Phone: 225-578-0761


Contact me about undergraduate, PhD and postdoctoral positions available!

Curriculum Vitae

Area of Interest

We study biodiversity at multiple scales, from regional to continental. By integrating population genomic, phylogenomic, geographic, and trait data, we can link patterns of plant diversity to environmental variables and investigate the processes that help generate and then maintain biodiversity. The core approaches we use are whole genome sequencing (to characterize genetic diversity and investigate links between genotype and phenotype), phylogenetics (to characterize relationships among species and populations), biogeography, spatial analyses, and modeling (e.g., to identify links between species distributions, past and present, and environmental variables), and machine learning (to gather phenotypic data from herbarium specimens). Two of the biggest challenges to understanding the processes that generate and maintain biodiversity are the currently labor-intensive task of collecting phenotypic or functional data from non-model organisms, and the limited tools available to make it possible for anyone to conduct sophisticated spatial analyses that integrate genetic, phylogenetic, and functional data. Learn more here about our work and how we are addressing these challenges (coming soon).

Selected Publications

Sundaram M, Donoghue MJ, Beaulieu JM, Farjon A, Filer D, Mathews S, Jetz W, Leslie AS. Accumulation over evolutionary time as a major cause of conifer biodiversity hotspots. Accepted at Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Li FW, Mathews S (2019) Phylogenetic methods to study light signaling. Pp 265-276 in: Phytochromes: Methods and Protocols, Methods in Molecular Biology, vol 2026.

Davis CC, Mathews S. Origin and Evolution of Land Plants (2019) Oxford Bibliographies. https://10.1093/OBO/9780199941728-0119.

Leslie AS, Beaulieu J, Holman G, Campbell CS, Mei W, Raubeson LA, Mathews S (2018) An overview of extant conifer evolution from the perspective of the fossil record. American Journal of Botany 105(9): 1531-1544.

Dean GH, Asmarayani R, Ardiyani M, Santika Y, Triono T, Mathews S, Webb CO (2018) Recommendations for generating DNA sequence data in labs with limited molecular biology resources: lessons from a barcoding project in Indonesia. Applications in Plant Sciences

Forest F, Baloch E, Brummitt NA, Bachman S, Moat J, Ickert-Bond S, Hollingsworth PM, Liston A, Little DP, Mathews S, Rai H, Rydin C, Stevenson DW, Thomas P, Buerki S. (2018) Gymnosperms on the EDGE. Scientific Reports 8: 6053. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-24365-4.

Lu L, Mao L, Yang T, Ye J, Liu B, Li H, Sun M, Miller JT, Mathews S, Hu H, Niu Y, Peng D, Chen Y, Smith SA, Chen M, Xiang K, Le CT, Dang VC, Lu A, Soltis PS, Soltis DE, Li J, Chen Z. (2018) Evolutionary history of the angiosperm flora of China. Nature 554: 234-238. doi:10.1038/nature25485

Godfree RC, Marshall DM, Young AG, Miller CH, Mathews S (2017) Empirical evidence of fixed and homeostatic patterns of polyploid advantage in a keystone grass exposed to drought and heat stress. Royal Society Open Science 4(11): 170934.

Leslie AB, Beaulieu JM, Mathews S (2017) Variation in seed size is structured by dispersal syndrome and cone morphology in conifers and other non-flowering seed plants. New Phytologist 216: 429-437, doi: 10.1111/nph.14456.

Li FW, Mathews S (2016) Evolutionary aspects of plant photoreceptors. Journal of Plant Research 129 (2): 115-122.

 Pirone-Davies C, Prior N, von Aderkas P, Smith D, Hardie D, Freidman WE, Mathews S (2016) Insights from the pollination drop proteome and the ovule transcriptome of Cephalotaxus at the time of pollination drop production. Annals of Botany 117(6): 973-984.

 Li FW, Melkonian M, Rothfels CJ, Villarreal JC, Stevenson DW, Graham SW, Wong GKS, Pryer KP, Mathews S (2015) Phytochrome diversity in green plants and the origin of canonical phytochromes. Nature Communications 6: 7852 

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