Photo of Amy L. Denton

Amy L. Denton

Professor, Biology

Contact Information


Ph.D. Botany, University of Washington, 1997
B.A. Plant Biology, State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton, 1985


Prior to CSUCI, Amy Denton was a faculty member in the Department of Biology & Wildlife at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Curator of the UAF Herbarium. Originally from New York, Amy received her BA from SUNY-Binghamton, her doctorate from the University of Washington, and spent two years at the University of California Riverside as a recipient of an NSF/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in Molecular Evolution.

Following her BA, Amy worked in medical molecular biology, researching adenoviral gene regulation and human brain tumor gene expression. Since returning to “green” cells, she has done botanical inventories and consulting for municipal, state, and Federal resource protection agencies and has led arctic and alpine field trips in the US and abroad.

At CI, Amy studies the influence of climate and geology on the evolution, diversification, adaptation, and distribution of plants in arctic and alpine regions. Plant hunting has taken her to field locations in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, Tibet, Yunnan, Mexico, and to arctic Alaska, Svalbard, and Greenland. Amy uses molecular phylogenetic inference and population genetics to reconstruct the evolutionary history of plant populations and their genes. Understanding how plants adapted to past environmental shifts may help predict how species in cold regions will respond to future climate change.

Amy maintains a keen interest in the history and development of evolutionary thought and is a committed advocate of natural history collections and archival research in biology. Her students work on research projects in plant biogeography, molecular evolution, and systematics.

Representative Courses Taught

  • BIOL 303 Evolutionary Biology
  • BIOL 311 Plant Biology
  • BIOL 345 Science & Public Policy (cross listed with POLS 345)
  • UNIV 391 US Travel Study Experience: Climate Change in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
  • UNIV 391 US Travel Study Experience: Science & Public Policy in Yellowstone National Park
  • BIOL 406 Evolutionary Biogeography
  • BIOL 500 DNA & Protein Sequence Analysis



Plant systematics, phylogenetics, biogeography, molecular evolution; arctic/alpine environments