Michele Johnson joined the Department of Biology in 2009, after completing her Ph.D. in evolutionary biology at Washington University and postdoctoral work in behavioral neuroscience at Michigan State University. Johnson teaches courses on evolution, and her research focuses on the evolution of lizard behavior. She has long been involved in initiatives to support women in science, and she works closely with local elementary teachers to advance science education in San Antonio.
* denotes Trinity undergraduate co-author
How does behavior evolve? The Johnson lab group is interested in the ecological factors that influence social behaviors and the physiological mechanisms that underlie those behaviors. Most of the lab’s work uses Caribbean lizards in the genus Anolis, or anoles, but we’re also exploring the diversity of lizards that occur at our local field sites in south-central Texas. We use field observations, laboratory experiments, molecular genetics, neuroendocrine techniques, and comparative methodology to explore behavioral evolution.
In the past six years, Johnson has collaborated with 28 Trinity undergraduates in her research on lizard behavior. These collaborations have produced 8 publications to date (with 9 undergraduate coauthors), 52 conference presentations, 5 honors theses, and 11 external grants awarded directly to undergraduate researchers. We’ve conducted fieldwork on lizards in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, and Texas – you might even see us crawling through the bushes on Trinity’s campus!