Curriculum Vitae

I study the effects of species interactions on evolutionary trajectories. My research integrates across scientific disciplines to answer fundamental questions about the evolution of biodiversity and conservation biology.

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2019 Ph.D. in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University

2012 B.S. in Genetics and Plant Biology, University of California, Berkeley

Current Position

National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Biology Specht and Raguso Labs, School for Integrative Plant Sciences and the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell, 2019-present

Professional Experience

Laboratory Technician Pierce Lab, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, 2013

Staff Research Associate & Lab Manager Specht Lab, Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley, 2012-2013

Undergraduate Laboratory Assistant Specht Lab under Dr. Tanya Renner, Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley, 2011

Undergraduate Study Manager Altieri Lab under Dr. Albie Miles, Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California, Berkeley, 2010-2011

Senior Agriculture Research Assistant under Dr. Lucia Varella, Sonoma County University of California Cooperative Extension, 2006-2008

Honors and Awards

  • Schmidt Science Fellowship Finalist Schmidt Science Foundation 2018
  • Distinction in Teaching Award Derek Bok Center for Teaching at Harvard University 2018
  • Arthur K. Bell Award Brain Chemistry Labs at the Institute for EthnoMedicine 2017
  • Grady L. Webster Plant Systematics Publication Award American Society of Plant Taxonomist 2016
  • Major Citation Award University of California Berkeley Genetics and Plant Biology 2012
  • Udall Scholar Honorable Mention Udall Foundation 2011

Teaching Experience

  • Guest Lectures
    • Biology Met High School, 4 virtual lectures, 2021
    • Plant-animal interactions Colorado Mesa University, virtual, 2020
    • Model-based phylogenetics Cornell University 2020
  • Harvard University
    • Evolution Teaching Fellow 2017
    • Science and shaping policy Course Designer and Instructor 2015
    • Writing fellowship and grant proposals for the biological sciences Teaching Fellow 2014
    • Certificate for Distinction in Teaching Derek Bok Center for Teaching 2017
  • High School and Inmate
    • Math, Science Teaching Assistant Connelly Detention Center, Juvenile Justice, Department of Youth Services Boston, 2014-2015
    • Chemistry, Biology Teaching Assistant California College Preparatory Academy, 2010
  • Pedagogical Training
    • Online Learning Institute Cornell Center for Teaching Innovation 2021
    • Inclusive Teaching Workshop Series Cornell Project Biodiversity 2021
    • Teaching & Learning in the Diverse Classroom Certification Cornell Center for Teaching Innovation 2020
    • Teaching Certification Derek Bok Center for Teaching at Harvard University 2019

Mentoring Experience

*Resulted in publication for mentee

  • Cornell University
    • Undergraduate Avi Simon 2021-present
    • Undergraduate Will Kandalaft 2021-present
    • Undergraduate* Rosy Glos 2019-2020
  • Harvard University
    • Undergraduate* Catherine Hua 2015-2019
    • High school student* Sophie Reuhr 2013-2014
  • University of California, Berkeley
    • Undergraduates Rose Radford, Anabel Rivas, and Camila Torres 2010-2011
    • Undergraduates Olivia Cope and Colin Hill 2011-2013
  • Mentor Training
    • Building Mentoring Skills for an Academic Career Certification Cornell Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning 2020
    • Mentor Training Certification Harvard University Science Education 2019

Service and Outreach

  • Board Service
    • The Cycad Society Board of Directors 2014-present, Newsletter Editor 2021-present
    • Cambridge Entomological Club Elected Vice-president 2014-2015, President 2015-2016, Executive Board 2016-2017, Treasurer 2017-2019
    • Harvard Science Policy Group Executive Board 2014-2016
  • Professional Service
    • Reviewer Communications Biology, Communicative and Integrative Biology, Integrative and Comparative Biology
    • Guest Edit Reducing the Darwinian shortfall in biodiversity knowledge through botanical gardens and herbaria resources Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens
  • Public Presentations
    • Cycad Society Annual Cycad Day 2021 Pollination mutualism in the genus Zamia
    • Cambridge Entomological Club 2016 The President’s Address: Mechanisms of a Neotropical Coevolution: Plant-Insect Communication in a Cycad-Weevil Symbiosis
    • Redwood Empire Nursery Growers Association 2008 Light Brown Apple Moth
    • Frontiers for Young Minds 2016 Live Review Presentation Don’t Judge a Plant by its Flowers
  • Popular Science Publications
    • The Cycad Society Newsletter 2018 Interview with Dennis Stevenson
    • The Cycad Society Newsletter 2014 Our New Board Member, Shayla Salzman Describes her Research
    • Hobby Farms Magazine Online Edition 2009 Soil Contamination: A Farm Buyer’s Primer

Invited Seminars

  • University of Georgia Entomology Department Seminar 2022
  • Cornell University Ecology and Evolution Department EvoDay Event 2022
  • Pennsylvania State University Entomology Department Seminar 2021
  • National Museum of Natural History Botany Department Seminar 2021
  • Laval University Biology Department Seminar 2021
  • Stonehill College Biology Department Seminar 2020
  • Cornell University Plant Biology Department Seminar 2019
  • Harvard University Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Symposium 2017
  • National Institute of Amazonian Research (INPA) Brazil Herbarium Seminar 2015
  • Federal University of Pará State Santarém (UFOPA) Brazil Evolution Seminar 2015
  • University of California College of Natural Resources Honor’s Symposium 2012

Conference Presentations

  1. Glos R, Salzman S, Calonje M, Vovides A, Specht CD. 2020. A phylogenetic and geographic analysis of leaflet anatomy in Zamia (Cycadales: Zamiaceae) International Botany Conference (poster)
  2. Salzman S,Whitaker M, Pierce NE. 2018. Cycad-feeding insects share a core gut microbiome Plant Biology Initiative at Harvard University 913h Annual Plant Biology Symposium (poster)
  3. Salzman S, Whitaker M, Pierce NE. 2017. Assessing the potential for bacterial degradation of BMAA in the guts of cycad feeding insets International BMAA Conference (poster) *Winner Arthur K. Bell Award
  4. Hua C, Salzman S, Pierce NE. 2017. Is Anatrachyntis another insect radiation onto cycads? ­Harvard College’s Undergraduate Research Spotlight (poster)
  5. Salzman S. 2015. Mechanisms of a Neotropical coevolution: plant-insect communication and specificity of Zamia pollination Cycad X: 10th International Conference on Cycad Biology
  6. Salzman S. 2015. Plant-insect communication and Rhopalotria-Zamia mutualism International Evolution Conference
  7. Salzman S, Yockteng R, Terry I, Specht CD. 2014 Varying alternative oxidase gene expression during Macrozamia lucida thermogenesis suggests transcriptional regulation Plant Biology Initiative at Harvard University 9th Annual Plant Biology Symposium (poster)
  8. Salzman S, André T, Specht CD. 2013. Spiraling into History: A Molecular phylogeny, biogeography, and ancestral character state reconstruction of distribution and pollination syndrome for Costus (Costaceae)Monocots V: 5th International Conference on Comparative Biology of Monocotyledons (poster)
  9. Salzman S. 2009. Bioremediation of Nitrate in Wastewater MESA (Math, Engineering, and Science Achievement) poster session Santa Rosa Junior College (poster)


  1. de Jesus DA, Batista DM, Monteiro EF, Salzman S, Carvalho LM, Santana K, André T. 2022. Structural changes and adaptive evolutionary constraints in FLOWERING LOCUS T and TERMINAL FLOWER1-like genes of flowering plants. Frontiers in Genetics. 13:954015.
  2. Glos RAE, Salzman S, Calonje M, Vovides AP, Coiro M, Gandolfo MA, Specht CD. 2022. Leaflet anatomical diversity in Zamia (Cycadales: Zamiaceae) shows little correlation with phylogeny and climate. The Botanical Review. doi:10.1007/s12229-021-09272-0
  3. Salzman S, Crook D, Calonje M, Stevenson DW, Pierce NE, Hopkins R. 2021. Cycad-Weevil Pollination Symbiosis Is Characterized by Rapidly Evolving and Highly Specific Plant-Insect Chemical Communication. Frontiers in Plant Sciences. 12:639368
  4. Valencia-Montoya WA, Quental TB, Tonini JFR, Talvera G, Crall JD, Lamas G, Busby RC, Carvalho APS, Morais AB, Mega NO, Romanowski HP, Liénard MA, Salzman S, Whitaker MRL, Kawahara AY, Lohman DJ, Robbins RK Pierce NE. 2021. Evolutionary trade-ffs between male secondary sexual traits revealed by a phylogeny of the hyperdiverse tribe Eumaeini (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae). Proceedings of the Royal Society B 288:20202512
  5. Liénard MA, Bernard, GD, Allen, AA, Lassance JM, Song S, Childers RR, Yu N, Ye D, Stephenson A, Valencia-Montoya WA, Salzman S, Whitaker MRL, Calonje M, Zhang F, Pierce NE. 2021. The evolution of red color vision is linked to coordinated rhodopsin tuning in lycaenid butterflies. PNAS 118: e2008986118
  6. Whitaker MRL, Salzman S, Gratacos X. Tucker Lima J. 2020. Localized overabundance of an otherwise rare butterfly threatens endangered cycads. Florida Entomologist 103: 519-522 Cover article.
  7. Whitaker MRL*, Salzman S*.2020. Ecology and Evolution of cycad-feeding Lepidoptera. Ecology Letters Doi: 10.1111/ele.13581 *Authors contributed equally to this work. Cover article.
  8. Salzman S, Crook D,Crall J, Hopkins R, Pierce NE. 2020. An ancient push-pull pollination mechanism in cycads. Science Advances 6: eeay6169
  9. Whitaker MRL, Baker CCM, Salzman S, Martins DJ, Pierce NE. 2019. Combining stable isotope analysis with DNA metabarcoding improves inferences of trophic ecology. PloS one 14: e0219070
  10. Hua C, Salzman S, Pierce NE. 2018. A first record of Anatrachyntis badia (Hodges1962) (Lepidoptera: Cosmopterigidae) on Zamia integrifolia (Zamiaceae). Florida Entomologist 101: 335-338
  11. Salzman S, Whitaker MRL, Pierce NE. 2018. Cycad-feeding insects share a core gut microbiome. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 123: 728-738
  12. Bruenn R, Lavenburg V, Salzman S.  2017. Don’t judge a plant by its flowers. Frontiers for Young Minds 5:31 Doi: 10.3389/frym.2017.00031
  13. Whitaker MRL, Salzman S, Sanders J, Kaltenpoth M, Pierce N. 2016. Microbial communities of Lycaenid butterflies do not correlate with larval diet. Frontiers in Microbiology 7:1920. Doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.01920
  14. André T, Salzman S, Wendt T, Specht CD. 2016. Speciation dynamics and biogeography of Neotropical spiral gingers (Costaceae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 103: 55-63
  15. Andre T, Specht CD, Salzman S, Palma-Silva C, Wendt T. 2015.Evolution of species diversity in the genus Chamaecostus (Costaceae): molecular phylogenetics and morphometric approaches Phytotaxa 204: 265-276
  16. Salzman S, Driscoll HE, Renner T, André T, Shen S, Specht CD. 2015. Spiraling into History: a molecular phylogeny and investigation of biogeographic origins and floral evolution for the genus Costus. Systematic Botany 40:104-115 *Winner Grady L. Webster Award for best plant systematics publication for 2014-2015
  17. Espeland M, Hall JPW, DeVries PJ, Lees DC, Cornwall M, Hsu YF, Wu LW, Campbell DL, Talavera G, Vila R, Salzman S, Ruehr S, Lohman DJ, Pierce NE. 2015. Ancient Neotropical origin and recent recolonization: Phylogeny, biogeography and diversification of the Riodinidae (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 93: 296-306


  • Fellowships
    • National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology 2019
    • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship 2014
  • Research Grants
    • Barbour Fund of the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology 2015
  • Travel Awards
    • Society for the Study of Evolution 2015
    • Cycad Society 2015
  • Scholarships
    • Berkeley Scholarship 2012
    • Harry L. Wollenberg scholarship 2010
    • Esta M. Rodkey Scholarship 2010
    • Rotary Club of Santa Rosa Foundation Scholarship 2010
    • American Association of University Women Scholarship 2010
    • Cal Alumni Club of Oakmont Scholarship 2010
    • SRJC Alumni and Friends Honoring Dr. Roy G. Mikalson Scholarship 2010
    • Paul Mancini Memorial Agriculture Scholarship 2010
    • Luther Burbank Botany Scholarship 2010
    • Clark Nattkemper Science Education Scholarship 2010
    • American Business Women’s Association 2009
    • Luther Burbank Botany Scholarship 2009
    • Doyle Scholarship 2008
    • Dr. Pearl Konttas Continuing Student Scholarship 2008
    • Luther Burbank Botany Scholarship 2008
    • Doyle Scholarship 2007
    • Dr. Pearl Konttas Continuing Student Scholarship 2007
    • Doyle Scholarship 2006