The Hamilton Lab

The Hamilton Lab

“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been and are being, evolved.”

- Charles Darwin, 1859, “On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection”

Arthropod Systematics & Phylogenetics

The Hamilton Lab is in the Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology & Nematology at the University of Idaho, and is affiliated with the Institute for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Studies (IBEST). Our lab, and the University of Idaho, is located on the aboriginal territory of the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) and Schitsu’umsh (Coeur d’Alene) people.

I consider myself an evolutionary biologist, but I’m also an arachnologist, lepidopterist, treethinker, Chickasaw, Gooner, and dad. Driven by a passion to tell stories of our planet, my journey to biology came through photojournalism (my previous career before coming back to school). My experiences documenting the stories of diverse cultures and contexts complement my love of understanding the biological world around us. For me, biology is a tool to continue telling stories about ourselves and our planet. As an Indigenous scholar, I am in the process of discovering ways to tell stories in both TEK (Traditional Ecological Knowledge) approaches and western science. Blending cultural and physical worlds was a natural transition, as our people are the original “natural historians”. We understood the land, it is flora and fauna, and the interactions of these organisms, long before western science “discovered” them.

As part of the new Arthropod Molecular Systematics lab at the University of Idaho, our research takes a modern systematics approach to establish hypotheses about the generation and maintenance of biodiversity. By integrating large amounts of phylogenomic, morphometric, ecological, and behavioral data, we try to explain patterns across differing landscapes and time, as well as how biotic and abiotic factors have influenced spider and moth diversification.

Check out the research page to learn more about how we use phylogenies to address evolutionary questions in spiders and moths.