Hello and welcome to my profile! I am a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University in New York City where I teach a course called Frontiers of Science. Its goal is to instill an appreciation of the scientific method and critical thinking in students by exposing them to common methods across four fields of science. While in this position, I am also involved in research projects at Barnard College. I am currently investigating plant response to the novel environment of a greenroof and I am also working on a multi-campus Arabidopsis project that has a strong educational component.
For my dissertation research, I compared natural selection dynamics and phenotypic plasticity in a pair of perennials, invasive Fallopia japonica (Japanese knotweed) and native Persicaria virginiana (woodland knotweed). Plant invasions are natural experiments that allow us to both explore the dynamics of natural selection in the wild and examine the evolution of an invader on contemporary time scales. In a field analysis of natural selection over three years, I found evidence of strong, but temporally variable selection pressures experienced by both species. Further experimentation showed that each species employs a different plasticity tactic (jack-of-all-trades vs. master-of-some) with respect to light acquisition traits.
As an EOL fellow, my intention is to focus on the urban flora of New York City. Urban plant communities provide several ecosystem services, including air and water filtration, temperature regulation, and so-called cultural benefits (those of an aesthetic or spiritual nature). The NYC government, in particular, has been actively supporting urban ecological initiatives such as establishing greenroofs on city buildings, giving tax credits for building greenroofs, starting the Million Trees NY program. I hope that city-dwellers will be able to use the EOL as a resource to explore their urban habitat.
- Full name
- Kelly O'Donnell
- I am
- an enthusiast, an educator, a professional scientist
- Curator level
- Full Curator
- EOL 2012 Rubenstein Fellow -- Ph.D. (2010) Ecology & Evolution, Stony Brook University, B.S. (2004) Biology, Cornell University
- Curation scope
- Urban Flora of NY