Department Directory


Department Chair: Ingrid Parker Department Manager: Jacqueline Rose
Graduate Adviser: Sarah Arantza Amador Administraive Assistant: Stephanie Zakarian
Undergraduate Adviser: Karina Frazier Undergraduate Adviser: Bee Vadakan
Biology Teaching Laboratory and Facilities Support Technician: Nicole Hack
Department Office: (831) 459-5358 Administrative Office: CBB, Room 207, 209


Mia Tayler Waters
  • Title
    • Graduate Student - Thompson lab
  • Division Physical & Biological Sciences
  • Department
    • Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Department
  • Email
  • Office Location
    • CSC Coastal Biology Building, 168
    • Coastal Biology Building, lab 277
  • Mail Stop CBB/EE Biology

Research Interests

I am studying the genetic variation in floral scent, a complex trait that plays an important role in the interactions and communication between plants and their pollinators. Specifically, I am working with Woodland Stars (Lithophragma), a native plant genus in western North America that grows throughout the California Floristic Province and in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges. These plants have co-evolved with a small prodoxid day moth (Greya), that depends entirely on the Woodland Star plants for its entire lifecycle while in return is a major pollinator for the plants. In such a tight coevolutionary relationship, one would expect communication between plant and pollinator to be similar throughout their ranges. Instead, there is large variation in the amount and types of floral scent produced among Woodland Star species, and even among different localized populations within a single species. I am investigating what the genetic basis for this variation might be, and how floral scent is inherited in hybridized generations of plants from two parent species that emit distinctly different floral scents. If floral scent in the hybrids is different from that of the parents, then the coevolved interaction with the Greya moth pollinators might be broken in areas of natural hybridization or as ranges of these species shift due to climate change.

I am working toward my Master's degree in John N. Thompson's lab, 2017-2019. I'm currently looking at prospective PhD programs in the US and abroad, with a goal of studying new systems of species interactions. I am particularly interested in understanding how the interactions among and within species affect their larger communities, coevolution, rapid evolution and local adaptation, and applications for conservation in the face of climate change and habitat destruction.

Biography, Education and Training

B.S., UC Santa Cruz 2015

M.S., UC Santa Cruz 2019

Teaching Interests

I am passionate about teaching, and am TAing a variety of topics within the Ecology and Evolutionary Department. I am also the Naturalist Group coordinator for WiSE (Women in Sceince and Engineering) at UCSC. For this group, I either lead or organize monthly themed naturalist walks in the Santa Cruz area that teach the community more about our local nature and different ways they can observe, study and appreciate it. Check out the group's webpage for details.