I am a PhD student in the lab of Dr. Lawren Sack in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California Los Angeles.
Throughout the past few decades, studies concerning classical plant physiology (flux) and plant biomechanics have relatively declined given the rise of modern advanced methods and understanding in molecular/cellular biology and genetics. As a result, we've gained an increasing understanding of the dynamics and roles of gene networks, signal cascades, and various other molecular and genomic aspects of plant growth within and across systems. Yet, the links between form and function remain elusive. These links are especially important because they provide robust underlying understanding of the physical consequences for growth, thereby providing greater understanding of the impacts on organismal performance. Furthermore, I'm in interested in exploring 1) how variation in leaf cell structure and tissue anatomy arise across species, given common developmental models of leaf growth (ex. within dicots, within monocots) 2) how this diversity in form influences physical changes in leaf growth and function (ex. flux), 3) and how these ultimately influence species coexistence and biogeography.
Broadly speaking, my research interests fall into the following categories:
Prior to UCLA, I worked with Dr. Leander DL Anderegg, Melissa E Lacey, Dr. Janneke Hille Ris Lambers, and Dr. Liz Van Volkenburgh elucidating the coordinated morphological, anatomical, and functional changes that Populus tremuloides (Trembling Aspen) leaves undergo to acclimate (via developmental changes) to environmental stressors: low-water versus low-light availability.
If you want to collaborate or simply say hi feel free to send me an email!
Alec S. Baird