About Dr. Jolles


On the road from Jarbidge, Nevada, to collect Pyrola dentata. Photo credit: Jason Schmidt, 2008

I am an Assistant Professor of Botany at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire (U.S.A.). My CV contains more detailed information about my education and professional preparation if you are interested.

The bulk of my research interests are botanical and evolutionary. I am interested in the evolution of :

  • Ericaceae
    • mycoheterotrophy
    • reproductive biology: esp. buzz pollination, floral symmetry, and hetero- vs. con-specific compatibilities
    • populations, metapopulations, species
    • the effects of natural selection on foliar versus floral development

I have a doctoral degree from the Department of Botany at Claremont Graduate University, which is housed at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in the southern foothills of the Transverse Mountain Ranges in southern California. The main thrust of my dissertation research was to understand the natural history of the Pyrola picta species complex, including aspects of phylogeny (including hybridization), biogeography, mating systems, and leaf adaptations (morphological and anatomical) to environmental heterogeneity.

In 2016 I joined the Department of Biological Sciences at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire as an Assistant Professor of Botany. During spring semesters, I teach courses in botany, systematics, and plants & human societies. During the fall semester I teach molecular and cellular biology for the introductory biology series! I maintain a research laboratory, greenhouse, and herbarium in our department, which are used to enhance undergraduate student education. My favorite types of research require a lot of field work.

Why Botany?   Why on Earth would I spend my life studying plants in the wild? Well, there are several reasons and they span the categories of Important to everyone to Important to some. For example, plants are involved in many ecosystem processes– providing food for herbivores, producing oxygen and pulling carbon dioxide out of the air, interacting with fungi involved with filtering water– these functions of plants and biodiversity are essential for everyone. Understanding the complex web of interactions involving organisms of all kingdoms, including plants, can also help us better understand our own role as humans on Earth– this type of understanding and self-awareness is important to some. Researching plant diversification helps us understand complexity in nature, which is essential for self-preservation.