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Dianne Pater Assistant Professor of Biology

My teaching and research interests include plant physiology, climate change effects on agriculture, and science communication. By studying the natural variation in stress responses and phenotypic plasticity of cultivated plants and their wild relatives, we can identify traits that will maintain crop production under increasing environmental stress.

  • At Vassar since 2019


Departments and Programs


  • BIOL 106. Introduction to Biological Investigation
  • BIOL 356. Topics in Plant Physiology
  • BIOL 202. Plant Physiology and Development
  • BS, Biology 2011 University of New Mexico
  • PhD, Biology 2017 University of California, San Diego
  • Visiting Assistant Professor 2017-2018, Amherst College

Plants are one of the most successful and abundant groups of organisms on earth, and are essential to ecosystem structure and human survival. Their limited mobility has driven plants to evolve behaviors and morphologies to survive biotic and abiotic challenges. Climate change is increasing the severity of environmental challenges plants must adapt to in order to survive. Humans have selected crop plants for a variety of characteristics, including flavor, size, and speed of growth. In doing so, we bred away much of the genetic diversity of the crops we grow. 

My research studies the stress responses of cultivated tomatoes, Solanum lycopersicum and their wild relatives S. pimpinellifolium. By understanding the differences in how these closely related species respond to stress, we can identify traits including photosynthetic responses and morphological changes that allow plants to survive and reproduce under challenging environmental conditions. 

I’m always looking for motivated undergraduates to join my lab.