Daniel Runcie

Daniel Runcie

Position Title
Assistant Professor

Plant Sciences


Runcie is an assistant professor in the Department of Plant Sciences. Using statistics, models, and lab experiments, he looks at how plants respond to changing environments. He completed his Ph.D. at Duke University and was a postdoctoral scholar in the UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology before joining the faculty in 2015.

Research interests:

Evolution of plant life history, evolution of gene regulation, quantitative genetics and statistics, computational models of plant physiology and gene networks

Brief overview:

Research in our lab focuses on why certain plant traits are more advantageous in some environments than others, and how the growth or development of these traits is molded by evolution and artificial selection. We try to identify genes and molecular pathways in plants that react to environmental cues such as temperature or day-lengths, and to predict how different cultivars or wild races will perform in natural environments.

Our goals are to improve predictions of crop performance, learn about forces that shape the evolutionary histories of natural populations, and identify critical systems that limit plant responses to climate change.

We approach these goals with a variety of tools, including statistics, quantitative genetics, gene network and models, bioinformatics, and lab experiments. Most of our projects use gene-expression analysis to probe molecular variation involved in particular gene networks. We try to link gene-expression traits to variation in development or physiology.

Current projects:

  • Modeling how genetic pathways and physiology control when plants flower
  • Statistical methods for “big data” in genetics, specifically gene expression
  • Identifying how plants adapt to high elevation environments