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Gar W. Rothwell

Gar W. Rothwell, portrait
Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Ohio Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Studies (OCEES)

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Ph.D., University of Alberta, 1973


  • 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.

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Faculty Research Focus Areas: Fossil Plants, 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
  • Origin and evolution of modern conifer families
  • Phylogeny of major fern clades

Current and Recent Student Research Projects

  • Anatomically preserved fronds of Bennettitales
  • Polen cone structure of Paleogene Cunninghamia (Cupressaceae)
  • Cone evolution among Cretaceous basal Cupressaceae
  • Early evolution of Late Cretaceous Cornales


  • 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

Stockey, R.A., G.L. Hoffman and G.W. Rothwell. 2020. Fossil evidence for Paleocene diversification of Araceae: Bognerospadix gen. nov. and Orontiophyllum grandifolium comb. nov. American Journal of Botany, submitted September 17, 2020.

Atkinson, B.A., D.L. Contreras, R.A. Stockey and G.W. Rothwell. 2020. Unearthing the disparate diversity of ancient cunninghamioid conifers (Cupressaceae): two new genera from the Upper Cretaceous of Hokkaido, Japan. International Journal of Plant Sciences, submitted September 1, 2020.

Tomescu, A.M.F., I. Escapa and G.W. Rothwell. 2020. Phylogeny and time’s arrow: the role of fossils and morphology in reconstructing evolutionary history. New Phytologist manuscript ID: NPH-L-2020-34344, submitted August 31, 2020.

Gierlowski-Kordesch, E.H. G.W. Rothwell, R.A. Stockey and D.B. Finkelstein. 2020. Submarine groundwater discharge as a catalyst for eodiagenetic carbonate cements within marine sedimentary basins. Chapter 15, in: Michael R Rosen, M.R., L. Park-Boush, D.B. Finkelstein in S.P. Pueyo. Limnogeology: Progress, challenges and opportunities: A tribute to Elizabeth Gierlowski-Kordesch, in press.

Tomescu, A. and G.W. Rothwell. 2020. Fossils and Plant Evolution: Structural Fingerprints and Modularity in the Evo-Devo Paradigm. Preprints 2020, 2020070311 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202007.0311.v1).

Bippus, A.C., G.W. Rothwell, and R.A. Stockey. 2020. Uncovering the Cretaceous origins of the arctic moss flora: fossil evidence highlights the role of water relations in the long-term success of polar bryophytes. American Journal of Botany, in press.

Rothwell, G.W., R.A. Stockey and S.Y. Smith. 2020. Revisiting the Late Cretaceous Parataxodium wigginsii flora from the North Slope of Alaska, a high-latitude temperate forest. Cretaceous Research 116:104592; ISSN 0195-6671

Stockey, R.A. and G.W. Rothwell. 2020. Diversification of crown group Araucaria: the role of Araucaria famii sp. nov. and other fossils in the late-Cretaceous (Campanian) radiation of Araucariaceae in the Northern Hemisphere. American Journal of Botany 107: 1072–1093. doi:10.1002/ajb2.1505265. 

Stockey, R.A., H, Nishida and G.W. Rothwell. 2020. Evolutionary diversification of taiwanioid conifers: evidence from a new Upper Cretaceous seed cone from Hokkaido, Japan. Journal of Plant Research 133: 681–692.

Stockey, R.A., G.W. Rothwell and B.A. Atkinson. 2020. Late Cretaceous diversification of cupressaceous conifers: a taiwanioid seed cone from the Eden Main, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. International Journal of Plant Sciences 181: 529–541 DOI: 10.1086/708383.

Rothwell, G.W. 2020. Cauline vasculature and leaf trace production of Medullosa leuckartii Göppert & Stenzel (Medullosaceae), a Paleozoic gymnospermous vine. International Journal of Plant Sciences 181: 464-472.

Scharfstein, A.R., Stockey, R.A. and G.W. Rothwell. 2020. Evolution and phylogeny of Altingiaceae: anatomically preserved infructescences from Late Cretaceous deposits of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. International Journal of Plant Sciences 181:452–463. DOI: 10.1086/707107.


National Science Foundation Grant EF-0629819