John H. Willis

Professor of Biology

3314 French Science Center, Science Drive, Durham, NC 27708
Campus Box: 
Box 90338, Department of Biology, Durham, NC 27708-0338
(919) 660-7340
We conduct research on broad issues in evolutionary genetics, and we are currently addressing questions relating to the evolution of adaptation, reproductive isolation, breeding systems, inbreeding depression, and floral traits in natural plant populations. Please see our lab web page for more information.


  • Ph.D., The University of Chicago 1991

Leinonen, Päivi H., Matti J. Salmela, Kathleen Greenham, C Robertson McClung, and John H. Willis. “Populations Are Differentiated in Biological Rhythms without Explicit Elevational Clines in the Plant Mimulus laciniatus.Journal of Biological Rhythms 35, no. 5 (October 2020): 452–64. Full Text

Flores-Vergara, Miguel A., Elen Oneal, Mario Costa, Gonzalo Villarino, Caitlyn Roberts, Maria Angels De Luis Balaguer, Sílvia Coimbra, John Willis, and Robert G. Franks. “Developmental Analysis of Mimulus Seed Transcriptomes Reveals Functional Gene Expression Clusters and Four Imprinted, Endosperm-Expressed Genes.Frontiers in Plant Science 11 (January 2020): 132. Full Text

Lowry, D. B., J. M. Sobel, A. L. Angert, T. L. Ashman, R. L. Baker, B. K. Blackman, Y. Brandvain, et al. “The case for the continued use of the genus name Mimulus for all monkeyflowers.” Taxon 68, no. 4 (August 1, 2019): 617–23. Full Text

Selby, Jessica P., and John H. Willis. “Major QTL controls adaptation to serpentine soils in Mimulus guttatus.Molecular Ecology 27, no. 24 (December 18, 2018): 5073–87. Full Text

Troth, Ashley, Joshua R. Puzey, Rebecca S. Kim, John H. Willis, and John K. Kelly. “Selective trade-offs maintain alleles underpinning complex trait variation in plants.Science (New York, N.Y.) 361, no. 6401 (August 2018): 475–78. Full Text

Ferris, Kathleen G., and John H. Willis. “Differential adaptation to a harsh granite outcrop habitat between sympatric Mimulus species.Evolution; International Journal of Organic Evolution 72, no. 6 (June 2018): 1225–41. Full Text

Barnett, Laryssa L., Ashley Troth, and John H. Willis. “Plastic breeding system response to day length in the California wildflower Mimulus douglasii.American Journal of Botany 105, no. 4 (April 25, 2018): 779–87. Full Text


Selected Grants

R2 [Reciprocal Relationships]: Mentorships to Strengthen and Sustain STEM Teachers awarded by National Science Foundation (Co-Principal Investigator). 2020 to 2025

Genetic and Genomics Training Grant awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2020 to 2025

Collaborative Research: RoL: Rapid Evolution of Reproductive Isolation via Hybrid Seed Lethality in Mimulus awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2019 to 2023

Genetics Training Grant awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 1979 to 2020

Collaborative Research: Hybrid Seed Inviability and the Evolution of Endosperm Development in Mimulus awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2019

Collaborative Proposal: The ecological genomic basis of parallel serpentine adaptation in Mimulus awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2014 to 2018