Brian Alfaro

Assistant Professor of Biology

McInnis 309

I teach undergraduate courses in Ecology, Genetics, Botany, and Environmental Issues, using our local environments in Eastern University as living laboratories. I investigate environmental and genetic factors that can affect plant ecology through geographical analyses, molecular data, and garden experiments. My research also explores the impact of climate and environmental factors on crops and invasive plants. I'm currently focused on historical ecology, examining how natural habitats have influenced religion and spirituality, with a special emphasis on biblical and ethnobotanical insights.

  • Ph.D., Biology, University of New Mexico

  • B.S., University of California, Los Angeles

Classes Taught
  • BIOL 151L – General Biology 1
  • BIOL 309WL – Ecology Lab
  • BIOL 312 – Genetics/Genetics Lab
  • BIOL 350C – Vascular Plants
  • BIOL 420 – Environmental Regulation and Policy
  • GEOG 200 – Geology
Research Interests

I focus on the following research questions:

  • How do genetic and non-genetic features of a plant interact with the environment to generate phenotypic variation in plant populations?
  • What methods of classroom, lab, or field activities can be employed to enhance student engagement in biology courses at a small liberal arts university?
  • Can environmental DNA be used for monitoring animal, fungal, and microbial communities in urban forests in Philadelphia?
Professional Associations
  • Pennsylvania Academy of Science
  • Ecological Society of America
  • Botanical Society of America

Alfaro, B., and D. L. Marshall. 2023. Evidence of differential phenotypic plasticity in a desert mustard. Ecology and Evolution. doi: 10.1002/ece3.10479. PMID: 37664494; PMCID: PMC10468984.

Alfaro, B., and D. L. Marshall. 2019. Phenotypic variation of life‐history traits in native, invasive, and landrace populations of Brassica tournefortii. Ecology and Evolution.

Grady, J. M., B. S. Maitner, A. S. Winter, K. Kaschner, D. P. Tittensor, S. Record, F. A. Smith, A. M. Wilson, A. I. Dell, P. L. Zarnetske, H. J. Wearing, B. Alfaro, J. H. Brown. 2019. Metabolic asymmetry and the global diversity of marine predators. Science 363 DOI: 10.1126/science.aat4220

Scofield, D.G., Alfaro, B., Sork, V.L. et al. Foraging patterns of acorn woodpeckers (Melanerpes formicivorus) on valley oak (Quercus lobata Née) in two California oak savanna-woodlands. Oecologia 166, 187–196 (2011).

The Bird’s Beak of LaRiviere Marsh: A Rare Plant Story. Tideline. Alfaro, B. Winter 2010. Vol. 31, No. 4 pp. 1-3.