Kathryn Theiss

Post-doctoral Scholar


  • Ph.D., University of Connecticut, 2012
  • B.A., Willamette University, 2003

Teaching Philosophy

Most scientific questions are too broad to be answered by any one person: collaboration is key to continued scientific discovery. A classroom offers a forum for multiple levels of collaboration, between instructor and student and also among students. I see my role in the classroom as a facilitator of collaboration, and more specifically, of scientific inquiry. I feel that curiosity is a characteristic of all good scientists and I try to foster this in my students.

Research Interests

I am broadly interested in plant reproduction and conservation. My past research has looked at pollinator behavior among co-occurring species of milkweeds, conservation of rare plants in Oregon and the Midwest, breeding system evolution in evening primroses and population genetics of Japanese knotweed. For my dissertation, I studied the threats to persistence of a rare orchid in Madagascar. Currently I am working with Dr. Susan Kephart on a National Science Foundation funded project using integrative taxonomy to evaluate species boundaries in camas and rush lilies.


  • Culley, T.M., J-F. Leng, S.R. Kephart, F. Cartieri, and K.E. Theiss. Development of 16 microsatellite markers within the Camassia (Agavaceae) species complex and amplification in related taxa. Applications in Plant Science: accepted.
  • Evans, M.E.K., D.J. Hearn, K.E. Theiss, K. Cranston, K.E. Holsinger, and M.J. Donoghue. 2011. Extreme environments select for reproductive assurance: evidence from evening primroses (Oenothera). New Phytologist 191: 555-563. (Cover photo)
  • Theiss, K.E., K.E. Holsinger and M.E.K. Evans. 2010. Breeding system variation in 10 evening primroses (Oenothera sections Anogra and Kleinia; Onagraceae). American Journal of Botany 97: 1031-1039.
  • Theiss, K., S. Kephart, and C.T. Ivey. 2007. Pollinator effectiveness on co-occurring milkweeds (Asclepias; Apocynaceae, Asclepiadoideae). Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 94: 505-516.
  • Kephart, S. and K. Theiss. 2004. Pollinator-mediated isolation in sympatric milkweeds (Asclepias): do floral morphology and insect behavior influence species boundaries? New Phytologist 161: 265-277.