It's a long ways from the wooded mountains of central Pennsylvania to the seemingly-barren deserts of Nevada. The University of Idaho, and specifically the research lab of Biological Sciences Professor Olle Pellmyr, was the catalyst that took Jeremy Yoder from the former to the latter. Now, as he completes his PhD under Dr. Pellmyr's direction, Jeremy has won two significant awards: the Diane Haynes Memorial Award as the outstanding graduate degree student in the College of Science, and the university-wide Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award.
Jeremy completed his undergraduate degree at Eastern Mennonite University in Pennsylvania and was working there with a land conservancy group when he ran across a journal publication of Professor Pellmyr. The article piqued his interest in co-evolution of species, and after contacting Professor Pellmyr found himself on his way to Moscow to begin his graduate work in 2005. Co-evolution is the study of processes of interaction between two species that might spur the development of new species from them. Jeremy began work on an in-progress project involving Joshua Trees (a tree-like species of yucca) and a small moth that is it's only pollinating agent. The field work involved tracing the ranges of the two varieties of Joshua trees, with the overlap occurring in the deserts north of Las Vegas. Previous work on the project had identified two species of the pollinating moth with ranges coinciding roughly with those of the two tree varieties. Jeremy's work investigated the connections between the two moth species and the tree varieties and evaluated the genetic variation between the two tree varieties.
Jeremy counts his trips to the desert, a place he learned to see as strikingly beautiful, among his most fond memories from his graduate school experience. But he also counts the collegiality of his working environment in the Department of Biological Sciences and the accessibility of its faculty members.
Following graduation, Dr. Yoder will begin a post-doctoral position at the University of Minnesota where he will continue work on population genetics of plants.