Rebecca Satterwhite


I am a PhD candidate in my third year at UChicago. I use microbes and molecular techniques to answer questions centered at the interface of ecology and evolution. My dissertation projects ask to what extent host ecology influences genome evolution and virulence in the plant-pathogen Pseudomonas syringae; this is important not only to inform our understanding of the selective process, but also to fields concerned with the emergence and spread of infectious disease.

Previously, I worked with Dr. Tim Cooper at the University of houston to earn my M.S. and produce two publications: one on costs of adaptation in specialists vs generalists (Evolution 2015), and the other on epistasis between mutations along an adaptive trajectory (Nature Ecology and Evolution 2017).


2021 Ph.D. (expected) Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago. Advisor: Dr. Joy Bergelson. “Ecological adaptation & the genomic basis of pathogenicity in natural isolates of Pseudomonas syringae

2013 M.S. Biology, Ecology and Evolution track, University of Houston. Advisor: Dr. Tim Cooper. “Experimental evolution with Escherichia coli in diverse resource environments: Jacks of all trades become masters of none”

2011 B.A. English, minor in Biology, University of Houston. Advisor: Dr. Tony Frankino.


Wünsche, A., Dinh, D. M., Satterwhite, R. S., Arenas, C. D., Stoebel, D. M., & Cooper, T. F. (2017). Diminishing-returns epistasis decreases adaptability along an evolutionary trajectory. Nature Ecology & Evolution1, 0061.

Satterwhite, Rebecca and Tim F. Cooper. 2015. Constraints on adaptation of E. coli to mixed-resource environments increase over time. Evolutiondoi: 10.1111/evo.12710. 

University of Chicago, Dept. of Ecology & Evolution