Brian Alfaro

Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology

McInnis 309

Dr. Brian Alfaro teaches undergraduate biology courses as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology at Eastern University. He started his research career as an undergraduate at UCLA, where he estimated behavior of woodpeckers via genetic fingerprinting of their acorn granaries. In his PhD work, Dr. Alfaro examined how characteristics in a desert mustard can vary in natural and artificially bred populations, and how these features can differentiate in plants that have been sourced from native, invasive, and ancient agricultural localities. He is currently examining how global climate can affect yields of canola oil using spatial analysis, and possibly corroborate these predictive results with greenhouse experiments here at Eastern University. In the future, he is excited to potentially involve undergraduate researchers in his greenhouse experiments.

  • Ph.D., Biology, University of New Mexico (2021)
  • B.S., University of California, Los Angeles (2007)
Classes Taught
  • BIOL 309WL (Ecology Lab)
  • BIOL 316 (Techniques in Biotechnology)
  • BIOL 344L (Molecular Biology Lab)
  • BIOL 312 (Genetics/Genetics Lab)
  • BIOL 350C (Vascular Plants)
Research Interests

Dr. Alfaro’s research focuses on the following areas:

  • Main question: What drives adaptive phenotypic variation in plants?
  • Experimental botany focusing on comparing domestication versus invasion trait syndromes
  • The use of GIS and spatial analysis in determining global biogeographic patterns
  • Scholarship of teaching of learning (SoTL) in the life sciences 
Professional Associations
  • Ecological Society of America
  • Botanical Society of America

Scholarly publications:

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

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., B. Alfaro, V. L. Sork, D. Grivet, E. Martinez, J. Papp, A. R. Pluess, W. D. Koenig and P. E. Smouse. 2011. Acorn movement of valley oak (Quercus lobata Née) by acorn woodpeckers (Melanerpes formicovorus) in two California oak savanna-woodlands. Oecologia 166:187-196.

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