Graduate students

Tim Batz is a Ph.D. student interested in identifying drought tolerance traits in agricultural species, particularly maize. He is studying the genera Zea and Tripsacum, which include traditional maize landraces and wild grasses native to Mexico. These species span both semi-arid and very wet environments across vast rainfall and soil moisture gradients. By investigating the agroclimatic diversity within these closely related species, Tim hopes to uncover insights into the evolution of key drought tolerance traits during maize domestication with the aim of adapting maize to a changing climate.

Cade Kane is a Ph.D. student studying the role of abscisic acid (ABA) in leaf abscission and leaf development. He is working with both winter and drought deciduous species to investigate the phenomenon of senescence and abscission. He works closely with a wide diversity of angiosperm species including: Erythrina sandwicensis, Cochlospermum fraseri, Quercus rubra, Phellodendron amurense, Shorea robusta, Pachypodium lamerei, and Betula pubescens as well as the gymnosperm Ginkgo biloba. Using this diverse group of plants Cade plans to re-examine the function of ABA beyond a traditional role as a drought stress hormone. Cade is also investigating the role of ABA in fungi to uncover what exactly this plant hormone is doing being made by this group of organisms by exploring the evolutionary history of ABA production in fungi.

Joel Mercado did his undergrad at the University of Puerto Rico where he finished as an agronomist. He is currently pursuing his master’s degree in Botany at Purdue University exploring the link between the plant hormone ABA and embolism in drought recovery. To accomplish this, he is going to look at tree species (P. americana, U. californica, S. giganteum and C. rhomboidea) that have different responses to drought events. His interests involve plants stress responses to a changing climate, either by biotic and abiotic stressors. He plans to work closely with forest ecosystems in terms of conservation and restoration by researching the responses to changing climate patterns, allowing for a better understanding and management of these ecosystems.


  • Sophie Westbrook is the McAdam Laboratory's research technician. In addition to helping with logistics, she studies the relationships between epidermal anatomy and stomatal behavior. Her current work focuses on stomatal responses to water availability in the Marsileaceae, an early-diverging group of ferns showing numerous convergences with angiosperms. Sophie's career plans involve integrating her physiological, ecological, and evolutionary interests in the context of research on agricultural systems.

Undergraduate students

  • Joshua Randall is interested in how Silphium serves as an example for divergence into and out of specific niches and habitats with changes to hydraulic traits. He also studies the impacts that urban settings have on physiological trait selection for weeds and the presence and use of stomata in Bryophyte sprophytes. He intends to attend graduate school after graduating in May 2020.
  • Kean Kane
  • Alison Little

lab alumni

  • Rodrigo Avila (visiting scholar, 2018). Universidade Federal de Viçosa (Brazil)
  • Amanda Cardoso (postdoctoral research assistant, 2017–2018). Universidade Federal de Viçosa (Brazil)