Chelsea Specht

Professor and Plant Organismal Biologist
Department of Plant and Microbial Biology
(510) 642-5601
(510) 642-4995
Research Expertise and Interest
molecular evolution, adaptation, plant systematics, evolution of development (evo-devo), evolution of form and function, plant morphology, comparative phylogenetics, floral developmental evolution, diversification rates

My lab focuses on studies in plant form and function. We use traditional morphological techniques combined with molecular and evolutionary biology to study the natural diversity of plants and to help better understand the forces creating and sustaining this diversity. I am particularly interested patterns and processes of plant diversification, with a focus on monocots and the order Zingiberales (tropical gingers). I am also Curator of Monocots in the University and Jepson Herbaria.

In the News

May 23, 2012

"Tree of Life" to harness big data, visualize complex relationships

UC Berkeley plant biologist Chelsea Specht is part of a unique collaboration to develop software that visualizes enormous amount of data across all of life, allowing scientists to see, at a glance, how organisms are related. The effort is supported by a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

February 25, 2011

Homoplasy: When look-alikes are unrelated

Nature is replete with animals and plants that have similar shapes or behaviors but are unrelated. They evolved these characteristics, such as long bodies in salamanders, independently, often through alteration of an entirely different set of genes. This process, called homoplasy, can tell us a lot about how evolution works, UC Berkeley biologists argue.