Jennifer DeWoody

Jennifer DeWoody.
Jennifer DeWoody.

  • PhD, University of Southampton, UK
  • MSc, Iowa State University
  • BSc, Colorado State University

As a Geneticist for the USDA Forest Service, I study the population and evolutionary genetics of natural populations in order to assist in the management of our public lands.

I am curious about the genetic structure of the natural world. How are populations of forest species related? What is the pattern of seed or pollen movement across the landscape? Do two species that live in the same area hybridize? How different are detached populations from the common variety? Can we identify the evolutionary processes that led to the differences between populations? How is adaptive variation distributed across the landscape?

These questions can all be addressed with genetic markers: tools that help show the differences between individual plants, populations, and species. My work with National Forest Genetics Laboratory (NFGEL) allows me to investigate the genetic structure of a wide variety of plant species, from small plants along the Pacific Coast to the massive aspens of the Intermountain West. I am happy to use the most efficient and effective marker available for each study, meaning in one day I may score isozyme patterns, analyze microsatellite data, and design an experiment to use “next-generation” sequencing platforms.

Genomic tools are constantly changing, and it is becoming more economical to obtain millions of bases of sequence data on previously unstudied species. I am committed to adding new techniques to the NFGEL toolbox, and have been working to equip the lab for the analysis of these large data sets. As costs continue to decrease and the bioinformatics tools become more robust, I expect to observe a revolution in the application of genomic data in land management. In addition, I hope to expand the NFGEL toolbox to include adaptive traits. Combining genomic and adaptive data may provide additional insight for conservation efforts in a changing climate.

My training and previous experience focused on the genetics of natural populations. I learned the art and science of isozyme electrophoresis with John Nason at Iowa State University, where I studied Boltonia decurrens (Asteraceae), a federally protected floodplain plant. For my PhD with Gail Taylor at the University of Southampton (UK), I examined the genetic and morphological variation in Populus nigra (Salicaceae), the European black poplar. I learned functional and genomic analyses during my postdoctoral research position with John McKay at Colorado State University, where I examined the role of guard cell responses in drought tolerance in Brassica napus (Brassicaceae).


  • DeWoody, J., H. Trewin, and G. Taylor. 2015. Genetic and morphological differentiation in Populus nigra L.: Isolation by colonization or isolation by adaptation? Molecular Ecology 24(11): 2641-2655.
  • DeWoody, J., M. Viger, F. Lakator, K. Tuba, G. Taylor, and M.J.M. Smulders. 2013. Insight into the genetic components of community genetics: QTL mapping of insect association in a fast-growing forest tree. PLOS ONE 8: 11.
  • DeWoody, J., L. Lindstrand III, V. D. Hipkins, and J. Kierstead Nelson. 2012. Population genetics of Neviusia cliftonii (Shasta snow-wreath): patterns of diversity in a rare endemic. Western North American Naturalist 72(4): 457-472.
  • DeWoody, J., V. D. Hipkins, J. Kierstead Nelson, and L. Lindstrand III. 2012. Genetic structure of Vaccinium parvifolium (Ericaceae) in Northern California reveals potential systematic distinctions. Madroño 59(4): 196-210.
  • DeWoody, J., J. D. Nason, and M. Smith. 2011. Hybridization between the threatened herb Boltonia decurrens (Asteraceae) and its widespread congener, B. asteroides. Botany 89(3): 191-201.
  • DeWoody, J. T. H. Rickman, B. E. Jones, and V. D. Hipkins. 2009. Allozyme and microsatellite data reveal small clone size and high genetic diversity in aspen in the southern Cascade Mountains. Forest Ecology and Management 258:687-696.
  • Mock, K. E., C. A. Rowe, M. B. Hooten, J. DeWoody, and V. D. Hipkins. 2008. Clonal dynamics in western North American aspen (Populus tremuloides). Molecular Ecology 17:4827-4844.
  • DeWoody, J. C. A. Rowe, V. D. Hipkins, and K. E. Mock. 2008. “Pando” lives: molecular genetic evidence of a giant aspen clone in central Utah. Western North American Naturalist 66:493-497.
  • DeWoody, J., L. Arguello, D. Imper, R. Westfall, and V.D. Hipkins. 2008. Genetic evidence of hybridization between Oenothera wolfii (Wolf’s evening primrose) and O. glazioviana, a garden escape. Madroño 55:132-142.
  • DeWoody, J., J. D. Nason, and V. D. Hipkins. 2006. Mitigating scoring errors in microsatellite data from wild populations. Molecular Ecology Notes 6:951-957.
  • DeWoody, J., J. D. Nason, and M. Smith. 2004. Inferring demographic processes from the genetic structure of a metapopulation of Boltonia decurrens (Asteraceae). Conservation Genetics 5:603-617.