Katherine A. Preston


Program in Human Biology
Bldg. 20, Room 22F
650 725-2516


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My research is focused on understanding how multiple traits, whose functions are interdependent, can evolve more or less independently while preserving overall function in an organism. More specifically, my work aims to reconstruct evolutionary changes in anatomy and physiology that have allowed native plants in California to tolerate drought and toxic soils.

I am also very interested in the way humans think about plants, especially those we eat. I write and think about food plants from a botanical perspective -- in other words, food plants as plants with particular structural and chemical properties along with a rich evolutionary history. In Hum Bio, I teach HB113 "The Biologies of Humans and Plants." That course explores the biological interdependence of humans and plants, particularly the ways in which we have imposed selection pressures and ecological change on one another. I also teach in fall quarter of the core (2A).