Principal Investigator – Prof. Karen Warkentin

Karen Warkentin
(Photo by G. Friesen)

Pronouns: they/them/theirs (English); elle (español)

Karen is a professor of Biology and of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Boston University and a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). They study phenotypic plasticity. Their empirical work examines the integrative biology and behavior of terrestrial frog embryos, with research focused on red-eyed treefrog embryos in Costa Rica (Corcovado National Park, 1991–1995) and Panama (Gamboa, since 1998). They also apply a plasticity perspective to thinking about diversity in sex and sex-associated traits. Karen grew up in many small towns, in Canada and Kenya, and has been watching animal behavior since childhood. They did their BSc at the University of Guelph, Ontario;  MSc with Richard Wassersug at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia; PhD with Mike Ryan at the University of Texas, Austin; and postdocs with Stan Rand and Mary Jane West-Eberhard at STRI and Andy Sih at the University of Kentucky, Lexington. They joined the faculty of Boston University in 2001.

Karen teaches biology students about Phenotypic Plasticity (BI 506) and the Diversity of Sex (BI 507). They also collaborate with social scientists and humanities scholars to teach Gender & Sexuality: An Interdisciplinary Introduction (WS 101), bringing an evolutionary and developmental perspective to the study of human diversity. Their past teaching includes introductory non-majors courses (The Evolution of Life and Intelligence, Biodiversity) and, for biology students, Herpetology. Before starting graduate school, Karen taught for 8 years as an interpretive naturalist in provincial parks and local nature centers.

Email:; Phone: 617-358-2385; Office: Room 500 Biological Research Building
Mail: Dept. of Biology, Boston University, 5 Cummington Mall, Boston, MA 02215

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