PhD, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, 2014
BS, Ecology and Evolution, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 2007
Plant-Insect-Microbe Interactions, Community Ecology, Mutualism, Chemical Ecology
Dr. Schaeffer is a community and evolutionary ecologist whose research explores how organisms are both ecologically and evolutionarily influenced by the complex communities that surround them. To this end, he studies plants, which participate in myriad interactions with antagonistic and mutualistic species that are both seen and unseen. Such cross-kingdom interactions can greatly influence plant performance by impacting critical processes such as nutrient acquisition and defense. Moreover, the distribution and abundance of species and the evolution of phenotypic traits can only be understood in the context of multi-species interactions; particularly those involving microbes. Though studies focusing on pairwise interactions have provided a solid foundation for present ecological and evolutionary theory, only by studying multi-species interactions can we move ecology to a more predictive discipline. Dr. Schaeffer's research fills this gap by integrating chemical, molecular, and field approaches to address fundamental and applied questions on cross-kingdom plant, animal, and microbe interactions in both natural and agricultural systems.