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Jason A. Koontz

Associate Professor of Biology

After earning my Ph.D. in 2000, I worked for four years at the Illinois Natural History Survey, based on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus, doing botanical surveys at road construction sites and maintaining a research program in molecular plant systematics (using DNA to understand how plants groups are related to one another).

I joined the Augustana faculty in 2004 and have since shifted my research towards conservation genetics (using DNA to unravel levels and patterns of genetic variation to aid management decisions) of rare plants in Illinois and California focusing on the larkspur genus, Delphinium. I am continuing to study several rare species of larkspurs in California. I revised the Delphinium treatment for the Jepson Manual 2nd ed, the flora of California.

In Illinois, my students and I are studying the hill prairie larkspur that is restricted to three counties in Western Illinois. This work was funded through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

I teach general botany, cell biology, senior inquiries in conservation biology, and during the Spring 2010 and 2013 terms, I taught Natural History of Ireland in Ireland for 10 weeks with Augustana students.

I strive to have interactive courses that get students involved and engaged with the material. I want to help my students connect their coursework to the rest of their major(s)/minor(s), non-biology course work, and their lives.

As biologists we are often perceived as being stuck in a lab wearing white lab coats. I hope that my students and I can change that perception while working to integrate our passion for living things with issues like social and environmental justice.

Specializations: Plant conservation biology, Native plants, Hill prairies, Delphinium, Larkspur, Botany, Invasive species-plants

Education

  • B.S., Iowa State
  • M.S., Miami University (Ohio)
  • Ph.D., Washington State