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Gar W. Rothwell, Distinguished Professor Emeritus

Gar W. Rothwell

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Ph.D., University of Alberta, 1973
Porter Hall 307B, The Ridges, Bldg. #7
740-593-1129 / 740-593-1118


  • Organismal Botany
  • Paleontology
  • Evolution and Phylogeny

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.

Other Websites

Faculty Research Focus Areas: Phylogenetic Systematics and Evolutionary Developmental Plant Biology

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


  • 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

Selected References

Gierlowski-Kordesch, E.H., G.W. Rothwell, R.A. Stockey and D.B. Finkelstein. 2015. Submarine groundwater discharge and early diagenesis of marine sediments. Geotimes, submitted May 11, 2015.

Nadon, G.C., A.M.F. Tomescu, L. Pratt, and G.W. Rothwell. 2015. Differentiating among depositional environments with C/S. Data: An example from the Late Ordovician, south-central Pennsylvania, USA. Paleoecology, Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, in revision.

Smith, S.L., R.A. Stockey, G.W. Rothwell and S.A. Little. A new species of Pityostrobus (Pinaceae) from the Cretaceous of California: moving towards understanding the Cretaceous radiation of Pinaceae. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, in press.

Buczkowski, E.L., R.A. Stockey, B.A. Atkinson and G.W. Rothwell. 2015. Cunninghamia beardii sp. nov. (Cupressaceae: Cunninghamioideae), anatomically preserved pollen cones from the Eocene of Vancouver Island, British Columbia Canada. International Journal of Plant Sciences, in press.

Shelton, G.W.K., R.A. Stockey, G.W. Rothwell and A.M.F. Tomescu. 2015. Exploring the fossil history of pleurocarpous mosses: Tricostaceae fam. Nov. from the Cretacous of Vancouver Island, Canada. Americal Journal of Botany 102: 1883-1900.

Spencer, A.R.T., G. Mapes, J. Hilton, R.M. Bateman and G.W. Rothwell. 2015. Middle Jurassic evidence for the origin of Cupressaceae: a paleobotanical context for the roles of regulatory genetics and development in the evolution of conifer seed cones. American Journal of Botany 102: 942-961.

Atkinson, B.A., R.A. Stockey G.W. Rothwell, R.A. Mindell and M.J. Bolton. 2015. Lauraceous flowers from the Eocene of Vancouver Island: Tinaflora beardiae gen. et sp. nov. (Lauraceae). International Journal of Plant Sciences 176: 378-392.

Klymiuk, A.A., R.A. Stockey and G.W. Rothwell. 2015. Plant-arthropod interactions in Acanthostrobus edenensis (Cupressaceae), a new conifer from the Upper Cretaceous of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. International Journal of Plant Science176: 378-392.

Smith, M.A., G.W. Rothwell and R.A. Stockey. 2015. Mesozoic diversity of Osmundaceae: Osmundacaulis whittlesii sp. nov. in the Early Cretaceous of western Canada. International Journal of Plant Sciences 176: 245–258.

Rothwell, G.W. and S. Ash. 2015. Internal Anatomy of the Late Triassic Equisetocaulis gen. nov., and the evolution of modern horsetails. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 142: 27-37. 230.

Atkinson, B.A., G.W. Rothwell and R.A. Stockey. 2014. Hughmillerites vancouverensis sp. nov. and the Cretaceous diversification of Cupressaceae. American Journal of Botany 101: 2136-2147.

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.


National Science Foundation Grant EF-0629819

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