Rachel Toczydlowski


PhD Botany (expected 2019) – University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Track: Evolution.

BS Biology (2012) – University of Minnesota Duluth, summa cum laude.
Minors: Chemistry and Art.

Curriculum Vitae:


Research interests:

Broadly, I am interested in studying: the various degrees to which a population can respond to a changing environment through dispersal, morphological and physiological changes via phenotypic plasticity, and evolution via natural selection; how the potential to adapt through each of these avenues varies across populations and species; and how these differences will dictate the ways in which disparate plant populations respond to ecological change. The geographic scale and degree of local adaptation, coupled with patterns of gene flow among plant populations, are also of interest to me, and by extension, the debate on assisted migration.

One of my main research goals is to provide results that are applicable in conservation and management settings. I work to share my appreciation and respect for the intricate and delicate balances defining natural systems with others outside of the scientific community.

Current research:

I am using wild populations of orange jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) to study gene flow, local adaptation, and inbreeding in temperate riverine systems. Understanding the balance between selection and gene flow and how these forces shape both morphological and molecular diversity can help predict how species will respond to systematic ecological changes. More specifically, I am investigating if rivers help to maintain genetic connectivity between small, fragmented, remnant floodplain forests and marshes. I am also studying the extent of local adaptation and measuring levels of inbreeding and associated fitness costs. I use both classical field methods and next generation sequencing to address these questions. Measuring actual fitnesses and realized phenotypes “on the ground” while simultaneously analyzing information on genomic variation will potentially provide a more complete and robust picture of local adaptation and gene flow.

ResearchGate Profile

My keywords:

Botanist, Yooper, cheese addict, woodworker, barefoot, Lake Superior

Selected press:

Current Collaborators:

Tom Givnish – Professor, UW-Madison Department of Botany
Shared interests: Wisconsin ecology and flora

Steve Goldstein – Research Computing Facilitator, UW-Madison Department of Botany & Wisconsin Institute for Discovery
Shared interests: high-throughput computing

Sara Hotchkiss – Professor, UW-Madison Department of Botany
Shared interests: long-term ecological change

Ricardo Kriebel – Postdoctoral Researcher, UW-Madison Department of Botany
Shared interests: morphometric analyses

Bret Payseur – Associate Professor, UW-Madison Department of Genetics
Shared interests: population genetics and demography

Sean Schoville – Assistant Professor, UW-Madison Department of Entomology
Shared interests: landscape genomics

Adena Rissman – Associate Professor, UW-Madison Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology
Shared interests: social science approaches to studying relationships between society and the environment

Cecilia Ramon – Visual Artist and Educator, UM-Duluth Department of Art and Design
Shared interests: interweaving art and ecology to inspire public appreciation for natural systems