Emily Weigel

Georgia Institute of Technology
Department of Biological Sciences
Atlanta, GA 30332


I’m a generally curious person who loves to ask questions. My two main areas of current research interest are:

1. How are traits used in reproductive life history and mating decisions?

Broadly, I am interested in how communication affects sexual selection. In particular, I study how males and females make mating decisions, and what impact those decisions have on the evolution of species. I seek to understand which factors communicate with whom to mate, how the “best” mate might change with ecological and evolutionary time, and what consequences result when decision-making factors, such as visual cues, are altered or decay. I am interested in whether traits trade off in importance for mating decisions and reproductive life history, and how demography might plastically alter what traits to express (and when). This work formed the foundation of my dissertation, and has inspired broad, phylogenetic approaches to investigate the connections between life history and mating decisions.

My dissertation species: the three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus aculeatus). Produced by Blue Wake Media. Please see the original YouTube post for comments. If you need or prefer, here is a post-interview transcript PDF. Enjoy!

2. How do we learn and communicate biology?

As an instructor and passionate science enthusiast, I am fascinated by the ways we conceptualize and communicate about science, specifically the language we use to describe and quantify (e.g. numbers and graphs) biology. My work has focused on how students acquire and adjust their ideas about evolution and quantitative reasoning in biology, and what techniques can best be used to instruct. My past projects have addressed how evolution understanding changes over time, how feedback impacts performance, and how feature-extraction of pop-culture science writing can promote interesting, relatable, and factually correct works. My current work addresses classroom conditions, test-taking strategies, and digital technologies that make learning (and the barriers to it) apparent and responsive to positive change.