Dr. Lena Hileman

Lena Hileman
  • Professor
  • Chair, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Professor
  • Chair of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Research Interests: Floral Evolution, Plant Development, Plant Evolutionary Genomics

Contact Info

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Office: Haworth Hall 8003


Dr. Hileman was a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Vivian Irish's lab at Yale University. In the Irish lab, she studied the developmental genetics of floral patterning in poppies and tomato. Before becoming a postdoc, she received her Ph.D. from the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismic Biology at Harvard University where she studied with Dr. David Baum (not at University of Wisconsin, Maddison) and Dr. Elena Kramer. Her dissertation research addressed the role of symmetry genes in shaping floral diversification. Her B.S. and M.A. degrees are from San Francisco State University where she worked with Dr. V. Thomas Parker to better understand relationships within a chaparral lineage in the flowering plant family Ericaceae.


Why is there such an amazing diversity of flower form? One reason is that flowers have been shaped over evolutionary time by selective pressures imposed through plant-pollinator interactions. However, in order for different floral forms to evolve, changes must occur in the underlying genetic programs that specify flower developmental patterning. The aim of my research program is to determine how developmental programs have evolved to pattern differences in flower form between species; for example, through changes in gene number, gene expression, or protein function. This field of research is called developmental evolution or "evo-devo". To address questions of flower developmental evolution, we take a number of diverse approaches including phylogenetic studies, molecular developmental genetic approaches, and studies of molecular evolution.

Research interests:

  • Flower development and evolution
  • evolution of developmental gene networks
  • parallel evolution
  • epigenetic inheritance of ecologically important traits


Teaching interests:

  • Evolution
  • Development
  • Plant Biology