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Karl Niklas

Karl Niklas


208 Plant Science
(607) 255-8727

I am a plant evolutionist who uses physics, engineering, and mathematics to understand the relationship between plant form and function and how this relationship has evolved in consort with the physical environment over the course of Earth's history.

Research Focus

My focus is on plant evolution, particuarly how the shape, size, internal structure and reproductive biology of plants have changed over the course of millions of years of evolution.

Teaching Focus

I consider myself a teacher and a scientist. I love working with students, and I love doing research.

Awards and Honors

  • Fellow (2018) American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Fellow (2015) American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow (2012) Cornell University
  • Fellow (1995) Linnean Society of London
  • Named one of the best 300 professors in the USA (2012) Princeton Review

Selected Publications

Journal Publications

Book Chapters

  • Niklas, K. J., Tiffney, B. H., & Knoll, A. H. (1980). Apparent changes in the diversity of fossil plants: A preliminary assessment. p. 1-89 Evolutionary Biology M. Hecht, W. Steere, and B. Wallace (ed.), Plenum Publishing, New York.


  • Niklas, K. J. (2016). Plant Evolution: An Introduction to the History of Life. p. 560 University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.