Skip to main content

James H. Marden

Professor of Biology, and Associate Director, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences
jim marden


Ph.D., University of Vermont, 1988

M.S., University of Vermont, 1984

B.S., University of Miami, 1981


Postdoctoral Training

Brown University; Univ. Texas, Austin, 1988 - 1990



Strickland Memorial Distinguished Lecturer, University of Alberta, 2010

Bellis Award, Penn State Intercollege Graduate Program in Ecology, 2009

Plenary lecture, CNRS Institute, Paris, 2008

Graduate student’s distinguished speaker, Dept. of Entomology, Univ. of Florida, 2006

National Science Foundation Career Development Award, 1997

American Society of Naturalists Young Investigator Award, 1990


Research Interests

Functional genomics, Biomechanics, Physiology, Ecology, and Evolution

In the most general terms, I am interested in how organisms work, and why they work that way. I investigate   physiological mechanisms, ecological and historical reasons why particular physiological mechanisms have evolved, and how physiological variation within species affects their ecology. I have worked primarily with insects because they are readily available, fantastically diverse, and ecologically/economically important.  I've recently begun to work also on plants, with a particular interest in allelic variation in the pathogen resistance genes of tropical trees.

Projects presently underway in my laboratory primarily involve a long-running study of genetic variation underlying traits affecting flight, dispersal, life history, and eco-evolutionary dynamics of a butterfly (Melitaea cinxia) that is a model system for species living in patchy populations.  Much of this work focuses on variation with the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) pathway and phenotypic differences in larval growth, tracheal development, metabolism and aging.

In another collaborative project we are using the 50 Hectare Forest Dynamics Plot in Panama to examine how local population size affects allelic diversity of pathogen resistance genes of trees, and how that in turn affects co-susceptibility to disease and negative density dependent population dynamics.  Results from our work on wild tropical trees led to a collaboration to improve disease resistance in cacao.