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Emily B. Sessa

Assistant Professor
Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2012
B.A. Cornell University, 2005

521A Bartram Hall
Personal Website

Research Interests

My research explores the evolutionary and ecological processes that contribute to plant diversity. In particular, the study of reticulate evolution, including polyploidy/whole genome duplication, hybridization, and introgression, forms the central organizing principle of my research program. The importance of these phenomena in shaping the evolutionary trajectories of many plant lineages is now widely recognized, though the specific effects of reticulation on patterns of relationships and biogeography, organization of post-hybridization genomes, and physiological ecology of hybrids are still largely unexplored. My work bridges a diverse set of disciplines in order to gain insight into the numerous ways in which reticulate processes shape plant evolution. I utilize a variety of study systems, but with a strong focus on seed-free vascular plants, the ferns and lycophytes.

Representative Publications

Sessa EB, Givnish TJ. In press. Leaf form and photosynthetic physiology of Dryopteris species distributed along light gradients in eastern North America. Functional Ecology.

Sessa EB, Zimmer EA, Givnish TJ. 2012. Unraveling reticulate evolution in North American Dryopteris (Dryopteridaceae). BMC Evolutionary Biology 12(1): 104

Sessa EB, Zimmer EA, Givnish TJ. 2012. Reticulate evolution on a global scale: a nuclear phylogeny for New World Dryopteris (Dryopteridaceae). Molecular Phylog & Evolution 64(3): 563-581.

Sessa EB, Zimmer EA, Givnish TJ. 2012. Phylogeny, divergence times, and historical biogeography of New World Dryopteris (Dryopteridaceae). American Journal of Botany 99 (4):730-750.

Zhang L-B, Zhang L, Dong S-Y, Sessa EB, Gao X-F, Ebihara A. 2012. Molecular circumscription and major evolutionary lineages of the fern genus Dryopteris (Dryopteridaceae). BMC Evolutionary Biology 12(12): 180.

Current Graduate Students

NameEmailResearch Interest
Jerald Pinson jbp4166@ufl.eduFern phylogenetics and systematics

Current Postdocs and Visitors

NameEmailResearch Interest
Sally Stevens smstev2@ufl.eduPlant ecology and evolutionary biology. Specifically, the origins of polyploidy and how this impacts contemporary species distributions and genetic variation.