Bucknell University

Department of Biology

1 Dent Drive

Lewisburg, PA 17837


Welcome to my blog.


I use this space to post short updates about my work and the like. If there's anything you'd like to see or ask me about, feel free to leave a comment here. You can also tweet me @angelajmcd.

By Angela, Jun 26 2018 08:38PM

It's been a long time in the making, but I can finally say that my first first-authored phylogeny paper was published in April (I know, I'm late!). I'm still so happy it's out, and excited to be working on the next milkweed vine phylogeny installment, to be submitted for publication sometime later this year.

You can find the article in Systematic Botany here:

I just paid the page charges for the article today (no open access, unfortunately) and that reminded me I should make a short post here on the blog about the article. It's a nice small phylogeny that represents a lot of blood, sweat, and tears on my end of things. I couldn't be happier that it's finally out for everyone to read.

So, I am still excited about this one and I still have more exciting milkweed work to come.

Speaking of exciting milkweed work, I was also fortunate to work with my PhD supervisor and some colleagues on another paper about Apocynaceae phylogenomics that was more recently published in the American Journal of Botany. The link for that is here: (and it IS open access. Thanks Shannon!)

By Angela, Feb 17 2018 08:17PM

An overview of Matelea hirtelliflora's discovery in Texas and a nice interview of Mark and I are a part of the new issue of the OSU College of Arts and Sciences' magazine. They did a great job highlighting the importance of biodiversity discovery and new species description. It also features a nice photo of the OSU herbarium!

Check it out here:

By Angela, Feb 17 2018 07:31PM

Just before New Year's, Matt Candeias (brains/host/plant geek behind In Defense of Plants) asked me if I would be interested in chatting with him about milkweeds on his show! We chatted for a bit about my career path and how I got involved in milkweed research as well as some of the specifics about my dissertation. Here's the episode that came out in January! I was pretty nervous, but it turned out well (thanks for the good editing, Matt!).

Here's the link to Episode 145, Obscure Apocynaceae Appreciation, which you can download or listen to directly on the site:

By Angela, Aug 31 2017 08:53PM

I have had an amazing year so far. Since my last post, I finished up writing most of my dissertation and defended it. Then, I got an amazing job offer and accepted it, and graduated with my PhD in Plant Sciences from Oklahoma State University (I can hardly still believe it happened. Crazy!). Over the summer, I also attended the annual Botany conference in Ft. Worth, Texas and presented my research about Chthamalia and was awarded the Cooley Award (Which is even crazier!) by the American Society of Plant Taxonomists. Almost right after the meeting, I packed all my things up with the help of my Okie friends and Kevin, Mattie, Midas, and I moved from OK to PA (Which really is the craziest, because I was already extremely tired from everything else happening this year). We are all doing well acclimating to our new surroundings and are almost totally adjusted to new surroundings, new jobs, and new people. We have a ton to be thankful for!

Soon, I'll be posting updates about what sorts of research are happening here at Bucknell in the Martine lab, complete with lots of photos.

By Angela, Jan 31 2017 04:22PM

Hi again,

I have inadvertently neglected this blog a bit, but I'm alive and doing well! It's been a crazy couple of months since I last posted. I've been in a flurry of analyzing data and writing my dissertation and applying for jobs. Everything is coming along and I'm excited about my work and looking forward to finding a job and taking on whatever the future holds. I thought I would post a quick list of updates and some news. I have an enormous list of things on my to-do list before I defend in April (and a big pile of coffee at home to match it!), but here are a few things that have been going on since my last post.

In November I presented my findings about a new species Mark and I named last year, Matelea hirtelliflora, at the annual Oklahoma Academy of Sciences technical meeting. It was a fun meeting and a good place to share 'local' work. Matelea hirtelliflora is apparently endemic to NE Texas, so it's not been found in Oklahoma (yet!). The talk was well-received and even won an award, so that really fun and I was happy to spread the "milkeed gospel".

I (finally) submitted a manuscript about Gonolobinae systematics that includes data from four chloroplast and three nuclear regions. It was kind of a beast of a paper for me since it represents a tremendous amount of work but not a ton of data (relatively speaking!). The paper includes lots of topology tests using the estimated gene trees to see what support for critical nodes there is in the data and also makes comments about how this affects taxonomy of the lineage. I also included a species tree estimated for Gonolobinae as well as a supertree estimate of Apocynaceae and a reconstruction of growth form evolution on both the species tree of Gonolobinae as well as the supertree estimate of Apocynaceae.

My friend Wyatt came to visit our lab over the holiday break and I helped him prepare 48 libraries for his dissertation research on Ayenia (Malvaceae). It went well and was a great success! I hear the libraries are pooled and will likely be sequenced any day now.

Finally, I'd like to note here that plastome finishing is a non-trivial task. I thought assembly and analysis of the hundreds of nuclear regions I gathered data for would surely be the most difficult to sort through and assemble. The good news is that the nuclear data isn't so bad to make sense of (thanks, HybPiper!). However, I have been surprised by the plastome data. Reference-guided assembly seems to misassemble or miss completely regions that are divergent while de novo assembly methods can spit out an entire plastome that is all kinds of out of order (thanks, circular molecules with repeats!) and requires a bunch of editing.

Off to finish a few more plastomes!