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Andrew Leakey's Laboratory

Scott Woolbright

Scott Woolbright, IGB Fellow, Genomic Ecology of Global Change


Curriculum Vitae


Ph.D, Ecological Genetics                                       2010

Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff


Master of Science, Molecular Genetics                 2001

Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff


Bachelor of Science (Honors), Biology                     1997 



            My post-doctoral research at IGB focuses on identifying changes in soybean gene expression that are driven by elevated CO2 and decreased precipitation.  Recent and ongoing studies by Dr. Leakey and his former student, Dr. Sharon Gray, are challenging the paradigm that elevated CO2 consistently acts to alleviate drought stress.  However, the mechanisms behind unpredicted responses to altered environments are unclear.  Using whole transcriptome shotgun sequencing (RNA-Seq) of leaf tissue from the SoyFACE facility, we hope to identify changes in the expression of genes affecting photosynthesis and transpiration in an effort to better understand how plants are likely to respond to ongoing climate change.

            I’m also interested in how climate drives changes in plant ecology and evolution in ways that shape species interactions, community composition, and ecosystem patterns and processes.  Using the skills I’m learning in Dr. Leakey’s lab, I hope to start my own research program that will focus on using cutting-edge genetic and genomic technologies to address the conservation and restoration of biodiversity at the community an ecosystem scales.



13. Woolbright, S.A., T.G. Whitham, C.C. Gehring, J.K. Bailey, G.J. Allan (2014) Climate relicts and their dependent communities as natural ecology and evolution labs.  Trends in Ecology and Evolution 29:406-415.

12. Wymore, A.S., H.M. Bothwell, Z.G. Compson, L.J. Lamit, F.M. Walker, S.A. Woolbright and T.G. Witham (2014)  Community Genetics Applications for Forest Biodiversity and Policy:  Planning for the Future.  In, (T. Fenning, ed.) Challenges and Opportunities for the World’s Forests in the 21st Century, Forestry Sciences 81.  Springer.

11. Allan, G.J., S.M. Shuster, S.A. Woolbright, F. Walker, N. Meneses, A. Keith, J. Bailey, and T.G. Whitham (2012) Interspecific indirect genetic effects (IIGEs):  linking genetics and genomics to community ecology and ecosystem processes.  In, (T. Ohgushi, O. Schmitz, and R. D. Holt, eds.) Interaction Richness and Complexity:  Ecological and Evolutionary Aspects of Trait Mediated Indirect Interactions. Cambridge University Press.

10. Schweitzer, J.A., D.G. Fischer, B.J. Rehill, S.C. Wooley, S.A. Woolbright, R.L. Lindroth, T.G. Whitham, D.R. Zak, S.C. Hart (2011) Forest gene diversity is correlated with the composition and function of soil microbial communities.  Population Ecology 53:35-46.

9. Allender, C. J., K. M. Clancy, T. E. DeGomez, J. D. McMillin, S. A. Woolbright, P. Keim, D. M. Wagner. 2008.  Lack of genetic differentiation in aggressive bark beetles     (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae) from Arizona. Environmental Entomology 37:817-824

8. Evans, L. M., G. J. Allan, S. M. Shuster, S. A. Woolbright, T. G. Whitham (2008).  Hybridization and genotypic variation in a foundation tree drive cryptic speciation of a specialist mite herbivore. Evolution 62:3027-3040

7. Whitham, T. G., S. P. DiFazio, J. A. Schweitzer, S. M. Shuster, G. J. Allen, J. K. Bailey, S. A. Woolbright. 2008.  Extending genomics to natural communities and ecosystems.  Science 320:492-495.

6. Woolbright, S.A., S.P. DiFazio, T. Yin, X. Zhang, G.D. Martinsen, G.J. Allan, T.G. Whitham, P. Keim. 2008. A dense linkage map of hybrid cottonwood (Populus fremontii P. angustifolia) contributes to long-term ecological research and comparison mapping in a model forest tree. Heredity 100:59-70

5. Yin, T., S.P. DiFazio, L.E. Gunter, X. Zhang, M. M. Sewell, S.A. Woolbright, G.J. Allan, C.T. Kelleher, C.J. Douglas, M. Wang, G.A. Tuskan 2008. Genome structure and chromosomal diversification revealed through consensus genetic maps in PopulusGenome Research 18:422 430

4. Whitham, T.G., J.A. Schweitzer, J.K. Bailey, D.G. Fisher, S.M. Shuster, R.L. Lindroth, S.C. Hart, G.J.Allan, C.A. Gehring, P. Keim, B.M. Potts, J. Marks, B.J. Rehill, S.P. DiFazio, C.J. Leroy, G.M. Wimp, S. Woolbright. 2005. “All effects of a gene on the world”:          Extended phenotypes, feedbacks, and multi-level selection.  Ecoscience12: 5-7.        

3. Wimp, G.M., W. Young, S.A. Woolbright, G.D. Martinsen, P. Keim, and T.G. Whitham. 2004. Conserving Genetic Diversity for Species and Communities.  Ecology Letters 7: 776-780.

2. Whitham, T.G.¸ W. Young, G.D. Martinsen, C.A. Gehring, J.A. Schweitzer, S.M. Shuster, G.M. Wimp,    D.G. Fischer, J.K. Bailey, R.L. Lindroth, S. Woolbright, and C.R. Kruske. 2003.Community Genetics:  A Consequence of the Extended Phenotype.  Ecology 84: 559-573.

1. Trauth, S.E., J.D. Wilhide, L.C. Hunt, A. Holt, T.L. Klotz, and S.A. Woolbright.  1996 Cnemidophorus sexlineatus.  Aquatic behavior.  Herpetological Review 27:20-21.

Other Publications:

Woolbright, S, T. Whitham, G. Allan, N. Meneses, M. Zinkgraf, H. Bothwell.  Great Basin Cottonwoods as “Natural Laboratories” for Studying Climate Change and Evolution.  Great Basin National Park semi-annual newsletter The Midden, Spring/Summer 2008.

Araya E, O Murillo, G Aguilar, O Rocha, S Woolbright, P Keim.  2005.  Possibilities of breeding teak (Tectona grandis L.f.) in Costa Rica assisted by AFLP markers.  Kuru:  Revista Forestal (CostaRica) 2:1-8.


Invited Presentations:

Woolbright, S.A.  Ecological genetics of hybridizing cottonwoods:  QTL and candidate genes for chemistry traits affecting communities and ecosystems.  November 11, 2010, Warnell College of Forestry and Natural Resources weekly seminar, University of Georgia (invited by Prof. C.J. Tsai).

Woolbright, S., G.J. Allan, G.D. Martinsen, J.A. Schweitzer, B.J. Rehill, R.L. Lindroth, P. Keim, T.G. Whitham. QTL mapping of ecologically significant traits in Populus:  a first step toward genotyping extended phenotypes. 2nd Annual Ecological Genetics Symposium. 4-6 November, 2005, Kansas City, KS.  (submitted poster abstract chosen for oral presentation).



Woolbright, S. Ecological Genomics at IGB:  metagenomics, climate change ecology and evolution, and community and ecosystem genetics. IGB Fellow’s Symposium, 8 May 2014, Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL (poster)

Woolbright, S., S.B. Gray, A.D.B. Leakey.  Physiological and transcriptional responses to drought in field-grown soybean:  what is the role of ABA signaling? IGB Fellow’s Symposium, 2 May 2013, Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL (poster)

Woolbright, S., A.D.B. Leakey, S.B. Gray.  A low-cost RNA-Seq protocol and its application to a soybean drought response study.  USDA Global Change and Photosynthesis Research Unit weekly seminar, 29 March, 2013, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL

Woolbright, S.A., J. Bailey, G.J. Allan, C.A. Gehring, and T.G. Whitham.  Relict populations of foundation species as natural labs for predicting the community and ecosystem consequences of climate change.  4th International Ecosummit. 30 September – 5 October, 2012, Columbus, OH 

Woolbright, S., Bridging the gap between Ecology and Genetics (and trying not to fall in!).  Department of Biological Sciences weekly seminar series, 29 October, 2010, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ (Ph.D.defense seminar)

Woolbright, S., M. Zinkgraf, G. Slavov, J. Schweitzer, G. Allan, B. Rehill, R. Lindroth, S.DiFazio, T. Whitham and P. Keim.  Genetic mapping in Populus links plant traits, arthropod herbivory, and adaptive introgression. Ecological Society of America. 5-10 August, 2007, San Jose, CA.

Woolbright, S., G. Martinsen, A. Gitlin, G. Allan, P. Keim, T. Whitham.  Differential survival of cottonwood hybrids and parental species in relict populations.  Ecological Society of America.  4-13 August, 2006, Memphis, TN.

Woolbright, S., G. Martinsen, G. Allan, M. Dahnert, A. Gitlin, P. Keim, and T. G Whitham.  Differential survival of hybrid and parental species in relict populations.  Workshop on Climate Variability & Ecosystem Impacts in Southwestern Forests and Woodlands.  7-9 February, 2005, Sedona, AZ (poster)

Woolbright, S, G., G. Martinsen, T. Whitham, P. Keim.  QTL mapping for Ecologists:  A novel experimental design provides a shortcut for linkage mapping in species with long generation times.  Ecological Society of America.  4-12 August, 2005, Montreal, Canada.

Woobright, S., G. Martinsen, G. Allan, M. Dahnert, P. Keim, and T.G. Whitham. Differential survival of hybrid and parental species in relict populations.  Evolution 2004. 26-30 June, 2004, Fort     Collins, CO.

Woolbright, S., G. Martinsen, T. Whitham and P. Keim.  Is there a genetic component to community structure?  Mapping QTL associated with insect herbivory in hybrid cottonwoods.  Southwestern Association of Biologist Annual Meeting.  17-19 September, 1999 Ghost Ranch, NM

Woolbright, S., G. Martinsen, T. Whitham and P. Keim.  Is there a genetic component to community structure?  Mapping QTL associated with insect herbivory in hybrid cottonwoods.  5th Bienniel Conference of Research on the Colorado Plateau.  25-28 October, 1999, Flagstaff, AZ