Dr. Suann Yang

Assistant Professor of Biology
Director of Environmental Studies

Contact Information
102 Lassiter Hall

B.S. Biology – Cornell University
Ph.D. Botany – Washington State University

Areas of Specialty
Evolutionary Ecology
Community Ecology
Conservation Biology

Courses Taught
Biological Concepts
Organismal Biology
Environmental Science

Research Projects
I have two main areas of research:  1) ecology and 2) biology education.

The primary focus of my ecological research is the interaction between species, particularly in disturbed and constructed habitats. Here is a sample of past and current projects.

  1. Biotic interactions during primary succession: How do interactions between species influence the trajectory of a developing ecological community? (Mount St. Helens, WA)
  2. Community impacts of invasive species: How do invasive plant species interact with each other and their native insect pollinators? (Pennsylvania)
  3. Dynamics of mutualistic communities: How does the network of interactions between species affect the development and stability of a regenerating tropical forest community? (Puerto Rico)
  4. Parasitic mistletoes and their hosts: What are the host trees of mistletoe? How does mistletoe spread between hosts? How does mistletoe infect a tree? (Clinton, SC)

Getting undergraduate students involved in research has been a crucial element of my research program throughout my career. Since 2012, many PC students have worked with me on the mistletoe project: Carla Burgess, Arkeia Drummond, Cat Ellis, Whitney Exum, Allyson Hollis, Will Irick, Danielle Jolly, Karen Magsino, Billy Joe Mullinax, Cyntia Pedro, Caitlin Sanders, Katlyn Sepsey, Toivo Thomas, Helen Tran, Matthew Treaster, Susannah Vickers, Cassie Walker, and Eric Washington. Arkeia, Cat, Katlyn, and Toivo went on to conduct independent research projects. Katlyn is now continuing her work as a PC Summer Fellow.

I also mentored the honors research of Theresa Freeman (’14, Biology), who studied the allelopathic effects of the invasive species kudzu on the early life stages of native plant species.

Biology Education
Being involved in the scholarly aspects of teaching helps me to prepare students more effectively for our changing knowledge economy. Together with Dr. Tarren Shaw (University of Oklahoma), I obtained a National Science Foundation Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science (TUES) grant to implement an inquiry-based introductory biology course here at PC (Biological Concepts – BIOL 105). This effort includes the development of curricular materials, the training of undergraduate Peer Mentors and faculty instructors, and the evaluation of our teaching methods on student learning and attitudes.

Selected Publications
(*undergraduate collaborator)

  1. *LaBar, T., C. Campbell, S. Yang, R. Albert, and K. Shea. 2014. Restoration of plant-pollinator networks via species translocation. Theoretical Ecology: 1-12.
  2. Yang, S., R. Albert, and T.A. Carlo. 2014. Transience and constancy of interactions in a plant-frugivore network. Ecosphere 4: 147.
  3. González-Castro, A., S. Yang, M. Nogales, and T.A. Carlo. 2012. What determines the temporal changes of species degree and strength in an oceanic island plant-disperser network? PLoS ONE 7: e41385.
  4. Yang, S., E. Jongejans, **S. Yang, and J.G. Bishop. 2011. The effect of consumers and mutualists of Vaccinium membranaceum at Mount St. Helens: Dependence on successional context. PLoS ONE 6: e26094.
  5. Campbell, C.E., S. Yang, R. Albert, and K. Shea. 2011. A network model for plant-pollinator community assembly. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108: 197-202.
  6. Yang, S., M.J. Ferrari, and K. Shea. 2011. Pollinator behavior mediates negative interactions between two congeneric invasive plant species. American Naturalist 177: 110-118.
  7. *Costa, C. and S. Yang. 2009. Counting pollen grains using a freely-available image processing and analysis software. Annals of Botany 104: 1005-1010.
  8. Yang, S., J. G. Bishop, and M. S. Webster. 2008. Colonization genetics of an animal-dispersed plant (Vaccinium membranaceum) at Mount St Helens, Washington. Molecular Ecology 17:731-740.