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Lab Members

Principle Investigator: Simon A. Queenborough

Mrs. John (Elizabeth W.) Musser Director, Tropical Resources Institute, Yale University

Senior Lecturer and Senior Research Scientist, Yale School of the Environment, Yale University

Simon works in a wide variety of ecosystems, from isolated tropical forests and threatened savannas to arable farms. His main long-term field site is the Yasuni Scientific Research Station in Yasuni National Park, Ecuador, in collaboration with Renato Valencia, Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador.

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Dr. Jason Vleminckx

Jason is a community ecologist studying the determinants of species assembly in diverse living groups including plants, fungi and invertebrates in Neotropical and Central African forests.

He is currently working on phenology data from Yasuni National Park.


Dr. Juan Carlos Penagos Zuluaga

Juan is interested in the ecological and evolutionary interactions that maintain the diversity of tropical plants. His research focuses on the intersection of ecology and systematics, using the Neotropical genera of the family Lauraceae.


PhD students

Harikrishnan Venugopalan Nair Radhamoni, PhD 2023

Hari is a PhD candidate conducting research on how the taxonomic and functional diversity of non-woody (herbaceous) plants vary along gradients of moisture and light in the forests of Western Ghats in India. Currently, he is excited about finding new, efficient methods and protocols to study herbaceous plants and their traits, including field surveys, nursery experiments, and herbarium-based research.


Megan Sullivan, PhD 2023

Megan began working in the lab as an undergraduate at Ohio State. Since then she has worked on plant ecology research in Panama, China, Brazil, and Gabon. Her PhD dissertation research focuses on the how selective logging alters regeneration and thereby changes the composition, structure, and function of seedling, sapling, and mature tree communities in the tropical rain forests of Gabon.


Masters students

Emma Grover, MESc 2023

Emma is investigating variation in leaf traits across a rainfall gradient in the Western Ghats, India, and within the Yasuni forest dynamics plot, Ecuador.

Undergraduate students

Leah Genth, Yale College 2023

Leah participated in the 2022 Yasuni IRES cohort. She is comparing leaf area loss due to herbivory between male and female individuals of dioecious tree species.

Sofia Montalvo, Licenciatura 2022

Sofia is investigating the interactions between ants and their host plant Duroia hirsuta, based at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador in Quito.

Juan Herrera, Licenciatura 2022

Juan is investigating the community of understory frugivorous birds in Yasuni National Park, based at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador in Quito.

Renata Robins, Yale College 2022

Renata examined dispersal mechanisms of tropical tree species along an elevational gradient in Costa Rica.

Virginia Davis, Yale College 2022

Virginia is interested in cultural knowledge and traditional medical practices. She investigated the use of Mexican Prickly Poppy (Argemone mexicana) to treat infections.

Field team

Pablo Alvia

Laboratorio de Ecología de Plantas, Escuela de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Quito, Ecuador

Pablo has 15 years experience working as a parataxonomist, botanist, and fied technician in the lowland tropical forests of Ecuador. He has helped with the taxonomy of the 50-ha plot and a number of other projects. He is currently censusing 3500 Myristicaceae trees on the Yasuni FDP for flower and fruit production.

Anelio Loor

Anelio has over 20 years experience working as a field technician in the lowland tropical forests of Ecuador. He has helped with the censuses of the 50-ha plot and many other projects. He is currently censusing Duroia trees on the Yasuni FDP for ant presence.

Lab alumni


PhD students

Andrew Muehleisen, PhD 2020

Andrew came on the Panama field course as an undergraduate in 2012 and was so enamoured with the tropics that he successfully applied for an OSU Summer Research Fellowship, and went down to Yasuni to survey species for extra-floral nectaries.


Masters students

Aarthi Kannan, MESc 2022

Habitat partitioning in six co-existing species of Renealmia (Zingiberaceae) in a lowland tropical rain forest.

Deja Curtis, MESC 2021

Deja examined variation in seed dispersal mechanisms in trees across a strong rainfall gradient in Panama.


Bart DiFiore, MESc 2017

Bart’s research focussed on trophic regime shifts and the complex interplay humans have in driving or mediating these shifts.


Camille Delavaux, MESc 2017

Camille was interested in nutrient enrichment effects on mycorrhizal fungi and plant diversity in an Andean tropical montane forest.


Undergraduate students

Jasmine Liu, Yale College 2020

Jasmine examined the incidence and abundance of extra-floral nectaries across a strong rainfall gradient in Panama, as well as leaf area loss in tropical tree seedlings, and the incidence of tree buttress roots.

Hannah Nikole Almonte, Yale College 2019

HNA investigated how leaf form varied across a strong rainfall gradient in Panama.

Lexis Anderson, Yale College 2018

Lexis investigated the effects of eztra-floral nectaries on seedling growth and survival.

Leticia Bulasoschi

Leticia visited the lab from Brasil to analyse data from a herbivore-exclusion experiment.

Elizabeth Tokarz, Yale College 2016

Habitat associations of herbaceous plants in Yasuní National Park, Amazonian Ecuador: A study of Heliconia

John Boudouris

John came on the Panama field course in May 2012 and completed a fine research project on extra-floral nectaries in the Brazilian cerrado.

Laura Mason

Laura documented variation in sex ratios of dioecious plant populations.

Shannon Hibbard

Shannon looked at fruit size and defence traits of tropical trees.

Edward Harper

Edward worked on classifying leaf traits of woody species of the cerrado region of Brazil.

John Lin

John worked on classifying leaf traits of woody species of the cerrado region of Brazil.

Research assistants

Cristina Porras Borja

Cristina investigated leaf traits.

James Smith

James carried out some of his MSc fieldwork in the Yasuni FDP, looking at the change in liana abundance since 2001, and the effect of lianas on fruit production of trees.

Raleigh Ricart

Raleigh ran some trial experiments on density dependence.

Anton Flugge

Anton carried out fieldwork in the summer of 2011, getting field experience for his PhD at University College, London. He looked at the spatial distribution of dioecious Cecropia trees in the Yasuni FDP.

Luke Smith

Luke carried out fieldwork for his masters thesis in the summer of 2009, while studying at University College, London. He looked at the spatial distribution of seedlings and saplings around parent trees at the Yasuni Scientific Research Station (some hunting) with seedlings and trees at the Tiputini Biological Station two hours down river (no hunting).

Julia Weintritt

Julia carried out research on a project funded by the Systematics Association, compiling a database of reproductive traits of tropical tree species. She currently administers the DRYFLOR network, based at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, UK.