Sheila Lyons-Sobaski

Professor of Biology

B.S., 1989, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
M.S., 1994, Kansas State University
Ph.D., 2003, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Appointed: 2005

Expertise Areas: Molecular ecology, conservation biology, population genetics, gene flow in plants, invasive species

Current Courses:
BIOL 195: Ecology, Evolution, and Biodiversity
BIOL 237: Ecology
BIOL 240: Conservation Biology
BIOL 295: Evolution

Research Interests:
Dr. Lyons-Sobaski is an molecular ecologist whose research utilizes both field and molecular genetic techniques to investigate the ecology and evolution of plant populations. In particular, she is interested in how gene flow maintains genetic variation within isolated plant populations to better understand the ecological patterns and evolutionary processes which structure them. Her dissertation research was a comprehensive study of gene flow and its influence on the genetic structuring of a regionally-endangered annual plant, Sabatia campestris (Gentianaceae). This research was important because, at the level of an individual, she empirically demonstrated the significance of the soil seed bank in conserving genetic variation of S. campestris (Prairie Rose Gentian) over time. In addition to studies of local gene movement, she has explored regional genetic differences for Prairie Rose Gentian by comparing peripheral populations, those located at the edge of a species range, with centrally located populations where the species is common.

Her current research includes studying the population genetics of Marsh Pink, Sabatia angularis, which is state-threatened in Michigan. Dr. Lyons-Sobaski is investigating the importance of peripheral populations, populations at the edge of a species range, by comparing the genetic variation of peripheral populations where the species is rare with core populations where it is common. She is working with students to understand the genetics of local population of Wild Rice (Zizania palustris) and ways to control the invasive plant, Mile-A-Minute Weed (Persicaria perfoliata) in Michigan.