Ohio University | College of Arts and Sciences | Department of Environmental and Plant Biology

Porter Hall 315 | Athens OH 45701 | Tel 740 593 1126 | Fax 740 593 1130

Gar W. Rothwell

Distinguished Professor


Ph.D., University of Alberta, 1973

Organismal Botany, Paleontology,
Evolution and Phylogeny

Porter Hall 401; The Ridges, Bldg. #7

740 593 1129/1118

Other Websites

Gymnosperms on the Tree of Life: Resolving the Phylogeny of Seed Plants
Paleobotany in Antarctica
Midcontinent Paleobotanical Colloquium
International Organization of Paleobotany

Faculty Research Focus Areas

Phylogenetic Systematics
Evolutionary Developmental Plant Biology


BIOL 115 (Plant Structure and Development)
PBIO 308/508 (Morphology of Vascular Plants)
PBIO 417/517 (Biological Research and Science Ethics)
PBIO 442/542 (Experimental Anatomy of Plant Development)
PBIO 460/560 (Paleobotany)
PBIO 691 (Scientific Ethics & Academic Integrity)
PBIO 3080/5080 (Structural Botany; Anatomy/Morphology)

Departmental Service

Curator, Ohio University Paleobotanical Herbarium (OUPH)

Professional Service

Past President, International Organisation of Palaeobotany
Associate Editor, American Journal of Botany

Research Program Summary

Studies of fossil and living land plants are directed toward a fuller understanding of phylogeny and evolution. These are explored using data from morphological, anatomical, ultrastructural, developmental, and molecular characters. Evaluations of ontogeny, reproductive biology, and organismal interactions are emphasized in interpreting development of the modern flora within the context of evolutionary ecology.

Research projects on a wide range of organismal biology topics are available for both undergraduate and graduate students who wish to become practicing scientists. These studies often focus on fossil plants, but structure, growth and development and physiology studies of living plants also are conducted. Anyone interested in doing original research and/or conducting his or her PBIO 404 undergraduate research in organismal botany, may contact Dr. Rothwell for a list and explanation of available topics.

Selected References

Gierlowski-Kordesch, E.H., G.W. Rothwell, R.A. Stockey and D.B. Finkelstein. 2014. Submarine groundwater discharge and early diagenesis of marine sediments. Geotimes, submitted August 13, 2014.

Atkinson, B.A., G.W. Rothwell and R.A. Stockey. 2014. Hughmillerites vancouverensis sp. nov. and the Cretaceous diversification of Cupressaceae.  International Journal of Plant Sciences, submitted August 23, 2014.

Smith, M.A., G.W. Rothwell and R.A. Stockey. 2014. Mesozoic diversity of Osmundaceae: Osmundacaulis whittlesii sp. nov. in the Early Cretaceous of western Canada. International Journal of Plant Sciences, submitted July 24, 2014.

Rothwell, G.W. and S. Ash. 2014. Internal Anatomy of the Late Triassic Equisetocaulis gen. nov., and the evolution of modern horsetails. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society, in press.

Nadon, G.C., A.M.F. Tomescu, L. Pratt, and G.W. Rothwell. 2014.  Differentiating among depositional environments with C/S. Data: An example from the Late Ordovician, south-central Pennsylvania, USA. Paleoecology, Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, in press.

Rothwell, G.W., S.W. Wyatt and A.M.F. Tomescu. 2014. Plant evolution at the interface of paleontology and developmental biology: an organism centered paradigm. American Journal of Botany 101:899-913.

Ray, M.M., G.W. Rothwell and R.A. Stockey. 2014. Anatomically preserved Early Cretaceous bennettitalean leaves: Nilssoniopteris corrugata sp. nov., from Vancouver Island, Canada. Journal of Paleontology 88: 1085-1093.

Tomescu, A.M.F, S.W. Wyatt, M.  Hasebe and G.W. Rothwell. 2014. Early evolution of the vascular plant body plan - the missing mechanisms. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 17: 126-136.

Atkinson, B.A., G.W. Rothwell and R.A. Stockey. 2013. Hubbardia cunninghamioides gen. et sp. nov., evidence for a Lower Cretaceous diversification of cunninghamioid Cupressaceae. International Journal of Plant Sciences, 175: 256-269.

Rothwell, G.W., G. Mapes, R.A. Stockey and J. Hilton. 2013. Diversity of ancient conifers: the Jurassic seed cone Bancroftiastrobus. International Journal of Plant Sciences 174: 937-946.

Rothwell, G.W. and R.A. Stockey. 2013. Conceptual advances in fossil plant biology: Introduction and dedication. International Journal of Plant Sciences 174: 267-268.

Rothwell, G.W. and R.A. Stockey. 2013. Evolution and phylogeny of gnetophytes: evidence from the anatomically preserved seed cone Protoephedrites eamesii gen. et sp. nov. and several species of bennettitalean seeds. International Journal of Plant Sciences 174: 511-529.

Serbet, R., B. Bomfleur and G.W. Rothwell. 2013.  Cunninghamia taylorii sp. nov. a structurally preserved cupressaceous conifer from the Upper Cretaceous (Campanian) Horseshoe Canyon Formation of Western North America. International Journal of Plant Sciences 174: 471-488.

Stockey, R.A., G.L. Hoffman, and G.W. Rothwell. 2013. Paleobotany and paleoecology of Gao Mine, a Late Paleocene fossil locality near Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 50: 235-248.

Stockey, R.A. and G.W. Rothwell. 2013. Pararaucaria carrii sp. nov., anatomically preserved evidence for the conifer family Cheirolepidiaceae in the Northern Hemisphere.  International Journal of Plant Sciences 174: 445-457.

Escapa, I.H., N.R. Cuneo, G.W. Rothwell and R.A. Stockey, 2013. Pararaucaria delfueyoi from the Late Jurassic Cañadón Calcáreo Formation, Chubut, Argentina: insights into the evolution of Cheirolepidiaceae.  International Journal of Plant Sciences 174: 458-470.


National Science Foundation Grant EF-0629819

Current and Recent Research Projects

Paleo-evo/devo: employing anatomical fingerprints of changes in gene regulation to reconstruct evolution and phylogeny
Resolving the gymnosperm tree of life
The origins of modern conifer families

Current and Recent Student Research Projects

Alternative pathways of gene regulation in the evolution of leaves in ferns and seed plants.
Structural finger prints for developmental regulatory pathways in fossil plants.
Conifer phylogeny
Early evolution of Cupressaceae
Complex pre-angiospermous floras of western North America

Update this page

Back to faculty list