The Thompson Laboratory at UC Santa Cruz




John N. Thompson



John N Thompson

Short Biography

John Thompson is Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His previous appointments include Director of the STEPS Institute for Innovative Research in the Environmental Sciences at UCSC and Meyer Distinguished Professor of the College of Sciences at Washington State University. He has also held appointments as a Fulbright Senior Scholar at CSIRO, Canberra, Australia; Visiting Faculty Scholar at the Centre for Population Biology, Imperial College, Silwood Park, England; Center Fellow at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, Santa Barbara; Fellow at the Centre for Advanced Study at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters in Oslo; and Visiting Fellower Commoner at Trinity College, University of Cambridge. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has served as President of the American Society of Naturalists. In 2009 he received the Per Brinck OIKOS award for contributions at the interface of ecology and evolutionary biology. His books and scientific papers have analyzed the ecological, genetic, and evolutionary processes shaping coevolution among species, the assembly of webs of interacting species, and the relentlessness of evolution amid ongoing environmental change.

 Short Research Description

My research program attempts to understand the ways in which the process of coevolution among species shapes the earth’s biodiversity. I study how coevolution organizes webs of interacting species in different environments amid ongoing environmental change. In my laboratory and in my collaborations with other labs, I use approaches from evolutionary ecology, population genetics, molecular biology, systematics, biogeography, and network theory. The work involves mathematical models, studies of experimental coevolution between microbial species in laboratory microcosms, and studies of coevolving interactions in nature, especially between plants and insects. Much of the work is on how coevolution shapes groups of interacting species across large geographic regions and on how evolution and coevolution act relentlessly on populations amid ongoing environmental change.




Professional Positions

Jean H. Langenheim Chair in Plant Ecology and Evolution, UC Santa Cruz, 2014-present

Visiting Fellower Commoner, Trinity College, University of Cambridge, 2014

Distinguished Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Santa Cruz, 2008-present

Director, The STEPS institute for Innovation in Environmental Research, UC Santa Cruz, 2002-2007

Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz, 2000-2008

Center Fellow, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, Santa Barbara, 1997-1998

Meyer Distinguished Professor of the College of Sciences, Washington State University, 1994- 2000

Fulbright Senior Scholar, Division of Plant Industry, CSIRO, Canberra, Australia, 1991-1992

Professor, Department of Botany (50%) and Department of Zoology (50%), Washington State University, 1987-2000

Visiting Faculty, Department of Pure and Applied Biology, Imperial College (Silwood Park), England, 1985-1986; Invited Ecologist-in-Residence 1997; Resident Scholar Centre for Population Biology 2006

Associate Professor, Department of Botany (50%) and Department of Zoology (50%), Washington State University, 1982-1987

Assistant Professor, Department of Botany (50%) and Department of Zoology (50%), Washington State University, 1978-1982

Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Entomology, University of Illinois, Urbana, 1977-1978


University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, School of Life Sciences Ecology Program, 1973-1977, Ph.D., 1977

Washington and Jefferson College, Washington, PA, 1969-1973, B.A., Biology, 1973

Selected Professional Societies, Editorships, Editorial Boards, Panels

American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Elected Fellow, 2010

Fellows' Selection Committee, Evolutionary and Population Biology, and Ecology 2012, 2013

American Association for the Advancement of Science
Elected Fellow, 1988

American Institute of Biological Sciences
Council Member, 2008

American Society of Naturalists
President 2008; Executive Committee 2007-2012
Selection Committee for new editor of The American Naturalist, 1997; Nominating Committee 2010-2013
Vice President 1998; Executive Committee Member, 1997-1999
Selection Committee for Young Investigators' Award, 1988

Ecological Society of America
Ad-hoc associate editor 2008; Research Needs Committee, Member, 1997-1999
Chair of Publications Committee, 1988-1992
Editorial Board of Ecology and Ecological Monographs, 1986-1989

Royal Entomological Society of London
Elected Fellow, 1986

Society for the Study of Evolution
Special editor, book reviews, 2007-2012; Elected Council Member 1988-1990

Monograph Series on Interspecific Interactions, University of Chicago Press
Editor, 1995 -

Evolution: Education and Outreach
Editorial Board member, 2008 - present

Stanford-UCSC Annual Species Interactions Workshop
Co-Organizer 2002 - present

Honors and Awards (excluding professional societies)

 Per Brinck Award, Swedish Oikos Society, 2009
e Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz, 2008-present
Institute for Scientific Information List of Most Cited Researchers in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 2002-present
Washington State University Distinguished Faculty Award/Address, 1997
Meyer Distinguished Professor of the College of Sciences, Washington State University, 1994-1997
Fulbright Senior Scholar to Australia, 1991-1992

Evaluation Panels (only recent shown)

National Science Foundation, USA, proposal evaluation panels, multiple years
e ETH, Zurich, program evaluation panel, 2010

National Science Foundation, USA, Science and Technology site visit team, chair, 2012

e European Research Council, LS8 panel in evolutionary, population, and environmental biology, 2012; chair 2014
CSIRO, Australia, program evaluation panel, 2008
UCLA, program evaluation panel, 2007

Selected Invited Talks and Addresses (past decade only)

Stanford University, Department of Biology, EcoEvo series, April
University of Cambridge, Department of Zoology, October
Uppsala University, Evolutionary Biology Centre, October
University of Helsinki, Metapopulation Biology Group, October

IV Congress of the Mexican Ecological Society, Keynote speaker, Villahermosa, Mexico, March
Rutgers University, Annual Eminent Ecologist Lecture, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources, April
Stanford University, Department of Biology, April
31st New Phytologist Symposium, Invited speaker, Cosenza, Italy, May
Symbiosis Workshop 2013, Keynote speaker, Yellowstone National Park, May

University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, first annual Fritz Müller Cycle of Lectures on Ecology and Evolution, August

University of Florida, Department of Biology and Florida State Museum of Natural History, October

University of Rochester, Department of Biology, November

Yale University, G. Evelyn Hutchinson Distinguished Speaker, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, February
National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA, Division of Environmental Biology, OPUS symposium, September
CSIRO, Plant Industry, Canberra, Symposium on Biological Arms Races, Invited opening speaker, November

American Association for the Advancement of Science, Symposium on Rethinking Adaptation to a Changing Global Environment, Invited Speaker, February
Washington University, Department of Biology, March
American Society of Microbiology Plenary Symposium on Coevolution, New Orleans, Invited Opening Speaker, May
Ecological Society of Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, Invited Keynote Speaker, Oxford, England, June
Fifth International Symposium of the Biodiversity and Evolution Global COE Project, Invited Keynote Speaker, Kyoto, Japan, July

Friday Harbor Laboratories, University of Washington, September

Gordon Conference on Plant-Insect Interactions, Invited Speaker, February
Symposium on Ecological integration, Texas A&M, March
Sixth International Wolbachia Symposium, Plenary Evening Speaker, Asilomar Conference Center, California, June
Genetics Society of Australasia, Keynote Speaker, July

Per Brinck Lecture, Uppsala, Sweden, invited talk following receipt of Per Brinck Award, February
University of Sevilla, Opening speaker in symposium in honor of 150th anniversary of publication of the Origin, February
University of Nevada, Reno, Department of Biology, April
Harvard University, Opening speaker in symposium on the ecology and evolution of mutualism, May
Centre for Advanced Studies, Norwegian Academy of Arts and Letters, August
European Society for Evolutionary Biology, Plenary speaker, Turin, Italy, August
Gulbenkian Institute, Lisbon, Portugal, November
jj Stockholm University, Zoology, November

Florida State University, Department of Biological Sciences, January
Dartmouth College, Department of Biological Sciences, February
Spanish Research Council Symposium, Evolutionary Ecology Ecology of Plant-Animal Interactions, Opening talk, April
Smithsonian Institution, Closing speaker at symposium celebrating the new hall of Partners in Evolution, April
Presidential address, American Society of Naturalists annual meeting, June
Norwegian Academy of Arts and Sciences, Oslo, Symposium on the Red Queen in Evolution, August

University of California, Berkeley, Public lecture on coevolution in public symposium on evolution, February
The Annual Jane and Whitney Harris Lecture in Ecology, Univ. of Missouri and Missouri Botanical Garden, April
Stanford University, Biological Sciences, May
Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation, Symposium on Evolutionary Ecology of Multispecific Interactions, July
Institute of Ecology, Xalapa, Mexico, Symposium on Species Interactions, September
University of Chile, Inaugural talk in Ecology and Evolution series, Bicentennial Project in Science and Technology, October
University of Helsinki, Centre for Metapopulation Ecology, November
Royal Swedish Academy, Symposium in honor of Linneaus's 300th birthday, November

University of California, Berkeley, Department of Integrative Biology, January
NSF Mathematical Biosciences Institute, Symposium on Species Ranges, Coevolution, and Speciation, February
Centre for Population Biology, Imperial College, Silwood Park, July

Institute of Ecology, Xalapa, Mexico, February
Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation, annual meeting, plenary speaker, Uberlandia, Brazil, July
Institute of Evolution and Ecology, Leiden University, The Netherlands, September
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Dept. Plant, Soil, and Insect Sciences, October
University of California, Los Angeles, Dept. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, November
Estación Biológica de Doñana, Sevilla, Spain, December

Indiana University, Department of Biology, March 2004
University of Copenhagen and The Biological Society, Copenhagen, March
University of Aarhus, Denmark, Symposium on Species Networks, March
California Academy of Sciences, Annual Fellows' Address, October
University of California, Riverside, Department of Entomology, October
University of Helsinki, Symposium on Spatial Dynamics in Species Interactions, November

National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, Ecology Seminar Series, January
Michigan State University, Departments of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Plant Biology, and Entomology, February
Stanford University, Department of Biology, April
Linnean Society Symposium, Ecology and Evolution of Polyploidy, London, April
Royal Entomological Society Biennial Symposium, Evolutionary Ecology of Insects, July
Harvard University, Symposium on Coevolution and Genomics, October
Williams College, Massachusetts, Department of Biology, October

Current Research

The process of coevolution.
The evolution of interactions among species.
Theorganization of biodiversity -- that is, the web of life.
The geographic genetic structure of populations and interspecific interactions.
The role of rapid evolution in the organization of biological communities.
The role of evolutionary ecology and coevolutionary studies in establishing priorities for conservation of biodiversity

See Research page for more details
See Publications page for list of publications