Dr. Welles is a plant evolutionary ecologist conducting original research and sharing her passion for biology with others through teaching and outreach. In her research, she investigates how plant genomes evolve following species introductions into novel environments, with the goal of understanding what evolutionary forces shape this evolution and how genome changes affect fitness and other traits.
To answer these questions, she studies invasive and weedy plant species, and she uses the tools of field observations and experiments, population genetics and genomics, and DNA cytology. She comes to Chapman from the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at University of Arizona where she has been a post-doctoral research biologist in the lab of Dr. Katrina Dlugosch. Previously, she completed her Ph.D. in Plant Biology with Dr. Norman Ellstrand at UC Riverside.
Additionally, she has taught upper-division university students at the University of Redlands and high school students at the non-profit organization the Center for Land-Based Learning.
“I am excited to be a member of the first cohort of Schmid College Teaching and Research Fellows,” Welles said. “I am looking forward to joining Schmid College and the Grand Challenges Initiative because it will give me the opportunity to work with students entering university and teach them to be strong learners and critical thinkers preparing them to make the most of the rest of their college experience. Many students have never been asked to think beyond our current knowledge and come up with new ideas. Learning to think in this way is challenging but valuable in student’s future classes and careers.”