Frank Frey

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Frank Frey

Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies

Department/Office Information

Biology, Environmental Studies
224 Ho Science Center


As an evolutionary ecologist and plant reproductive biologist, I am interested in using experimental and theoretical techniques to ask questions about factors generating, shaping, and maintaining diversity in populations. In addition, I am part of an interdisciplinary and international collaboration investigating environmental health issues in southwestern Uganda. I also currently serve as director and curator of the George R. Cooley Herbarium.

  • BS, Penn State, 1998
  • PhD, Indiana University, 2003
  • Evolutionary biology 
  • Ecology
  • Population biology
  • Botany
  • Environmental science
  • Biostatistics
  • Environmental health
  • Ethnobotany
  • Evolutionary ecology
  • Plant reproductive biology

Maintenance of genetic variation/polymorphism; evolution of sexual dimorphism; plant ecological interactions (pollinators, pathogens); environmental health

A large team of vibrant undergraduates is involved in a diverse array of projects with me throughout the year. In short, we work in the following areas combining field, greenhouse, laboratory, and theoretical methods. If you are interested in joining our group, please contact me.

  • The maintenance of floral-color variation and the genetic integration of volatile, pigmentation, and reproductive traits in plants.
  • The adaptive nature of floral symmetry.
  • The evolution of sexual dimorphism.
  • The efficacy of traditional medicines in Upstate New York Native American culture.
  • Environmental health in southwestern Uganda with a focus on drinking water quality and infectious disease transmission.

In all my courses, I seek to inspire excitement and wonder about the natural world, and encourage students to use their imagination and creativity to develop testable hypotheses about biological phenomena.  I currently teach across the curriculum in the following courses: 

  • CORE 133 - Sex, Drugs, & Chocolate
  • BIOL 101 - Topics in Organismal Biology: Evolution and You
  • BIOL 211 - Evolution, Ecology and Diversity
  • BIOL 220 - Biostatistics
  • BIOL 325 - Plant Evolution
  • BIOL 364 - Population Biology
  • BIOL 479 - Investigations in Evolutionary Ecology
  • ENST 309 - Australian Environmental Issues (Study Group at the University of Wollongong)
  • ENST 333 - Environment and Community Health in Africa: A Case Study in Rural Uganda (Extended Study)
  • ENST 390 - Community-based Issues in Environmental Studies
  • ENST 490 - Seminar in Environmental Studies

I have published with more than 20 undergraduates and in journals such as American Journal of Botany, American NaturalistEvolutionInternational Journal of Plant Sciences, and New Phytologist.  A sample of recent publications from my lab (asterisks indicate undergraduate coauthors) include:

  • Frey FM, *J Dunton & *K Garland. 2011. Floral-color variation and associations with fitness-related traits in Malva moschata (Malvaceae). Plant Species Biology, in press.
  • Frey FM & *R Meyers. 2010. Antibacterial activity of traditional medicinal plants used by Haudenosaunee peoples of New York State. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 10:64.
  • Frey FM, CM Lively & ED Brodie III. 2010. Selection and evolution with a deck of cards. Evolution: Education and Outreach 3:114-120.
  • Frey FM, A Robertson & *M Bukoski. 2007. A method for quantifying rotational symmetry. New Phytologist175: 785-791.
  • Weeks *EL & FM Frey. 2007. Seed production and insect visitation rates are not affected by floral symmetry. International Journal of Plant Sciences 168:611-617.
  • Frey FM, LF Delph, *B Dinneen & *C Twomey. 2007. The evolution of sexually dimorphic flower production under sexual, fertility, and viability selection. Evolutionary Ecology Research 9: 1-19.