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Margaret Smith, Ph.D.

Title: Associate Professor
Phone: 706-864-1488

Office: Health and Natural Sciences, 431, Dahlonega
Areas of Expertise: Evolution of Development

Courses Taught

  • BIOL1101/1101L Online –Biology: A Human Perspective
  • BIOL1260/1260L Environmental Science
  • BIOL1107K Principles of Biology I
  • BIOL4450 Evolution
  • BIOL4480K Development


  • Ph.D., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Indiana University, 2008
  • B.S., Genetics, University of Georgia, 2001

Research/Special Interests

Dr. Smith has a variety of research interests in evolutionary biology, but her training has focused on the evolution of developmental mechanisms. At UNG, she is currently working with a very interesting insect system which is amenable to a variety of evolutionary, ecological, and developmental questions.

She works with the wasp Copidosoma floridanum which parasitizes moth eggs, which in her lab are either Trichoplusia ni or Chrysodeixis includens eggs. She studies C. floridanium because it has very interesting development. It is facultatively polyembryonic, meaning that from a single egg, thousands of genetically identical offspring develop. It is also a eusocial insect, meaning that among the thousands of genetically identical siblings, some individuals differentiate into sterile soldiers and others differentiate into reproductive individuals. She studies how and why the development of such a complex life history strategy evolved.

Currently a group of students in her lab group are working on understanding ecological factors influencing soldier development. She has also had students work with just the hosts, T. ni and C. includens which are crop pests. Students explored management strategies for C. includens, and there are also interesting questions to explore about the evolution of pesticide resistance. I collaborate on all of this work with Dr. Erin Barding. If you’re interested in this system or these research areas, please stop by to chat!


Here is a sample of publications representing my general areas of work. Asterisks indicate undergraduate authors:

Smith, MS, Milton, I* and MR Strand. 2010. Phenotypically plastic traits regulate caste formation and soldier function in polyembryonic wasps. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 23(12):2677-2684

Smith, MS, Collins, S* and RA Raff.2009. Morphogenetic mechanisms of coelom formation in the direct developing sea urchin Heliocidaris erythrogramma. Development Genes and Evolution 219(1):21-29

Smith, MS, Turner, FR, and RA Raff. 2008. Nodal expression and heterochrony in the evolution of dorsal-ventral and left-right axes formation in the direct developing sea urchin Heliocidaris erythrogramma. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B 310(8): 609-622

Smith, MS, K Zigler, and RA Raff. 2007. Evolution of direct developing larvae: Selection versus loss. Bioessays 29(6):566-571

Snoke, MS and M Lynch 2006 Large effective population sizes in Paramecium. Molecular Biology and Evolution 23(12):2474-2479

Snoke, MS*, and DEL Promislow. 2003. Quantitative genetic tests of recent senescence theory: age specific mortality and male fertility in Drosophila melanogaster.  Heredity. 91:546-556

Work Experience

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Georgia, 2008-2010

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