Dr. Kelly Matsunaga

Kelly Matsunaga
  • Thomas N. Taylor Assistant Professor
  • Assistant Curator
  • Research Interests: Plant Evolution, Paleobotany, Phylogenetics, Plant Development

Contact Info

Office: Haworth Hall 8005


Botany, Humboldt State University, 2012
Biology, Humboldt State University, 2014
Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Michigan, 2019


I investigate plant evolution, phylogeny, and diversity through time using living plants and the fossil record. How has plant form and diversity changed through time? What major patterns and processes underlie plant evolution? How have biotic and abiotic processes influenced the diversification of plant lineages? Living and fossil organisms provide complementary perspectives on these fundamental questions, and together have enormous potential for elucidating plant macroevolution. I approach these types of questions for a variety of groups and time periods using multifaceted approaches that combine methods from multiple fields, including descriptive paleobotany, histology, X-ray tomography, comparative methods, and phylogenetics.

Selected Publications

  • Manchester, S.R., Kapgate, D.K., Patil, S.P., Ramteke, D., Matsunaga, K.K.S., and Smith, S.Y.  2020. Morphology and affinities of Pantocarpon fruits (Torricelliaceae) from the Maastrichtian Deccan Intertrappean Beds of Central India.  International Journal of Plant Sciences.  doi: 10.1086/706856
  • Matsunaga, K.K.S., Manchester, S.R., Srivastava, R., Kapgate, D.K., and Smith, S.Y. 2019.  Fossil palm fruits from India indicate a Late Cretaceous origin of tribe Borasseae (Arecaceae).  Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 190: 260-280.
  • Matsunaga, K.K.S., Smith, S.Y., Manchester, S.R., Kapgate, D., Ramteke, D., Garbout, A., and Villarraga-Gomez, H. 2018.  Reinvestigating an enigmatic late cretaceous monocot: morphology, taxonomy, and biogeography of Viracarpon. PeerJ.  doi: 10.7717/peerj.4580.
  • Matsunaga, K.K.S., Cullen, N.P., and Tomescu, A.M.F. 2017.  Vascularizaton of the Selaginella rhizophore: anatomical fingerprints of polar auxin transport with implications for the deep fossil record. New Phytologist, doi: 10.1111/nph. 14478
  • Matsunaga, K.K.S., and Tomescu, A.M.F. 2017.  An organismal concept for Sengelia radicans gen. et sp. nov. - morphology and natural history of an Early Devonian Iycophyte.  Annals of Botany, 119: 1097-1113. doi: 10.1093/aob/mcw277.