Plant Evolution and Development
One of the most intriguing questions in biology is how molecular evolution alters developmental programs that shape morphology. Wenheng Zhang has pursued this interest using comparative methods that integrate phylogenetic, molecular, and morphological studies to determine the origin and evolution of novel floral traits in flowering plants within the context of a well-established developmental genetic framework. Her work has also tried to resolve how developmental networks and environmental pressures imposed by insect pollinators shape the evolutionary outcomes. Her research will contribute to a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of evolution, particularly as it relates to changes in floral form in response to plant-insect interactions.
Before her appointment at VCU, Wenheng Zhang received her B.S. and M.S from Beijing Medical University and Peking University in China, respectively, and her Ph.D. in botany from North Carolina State University. Her postdoctoral studies were at Harvard University.
Recipient of the 2018 Faculty of the Year Award from the Department of Biology.