Contributor since Fall 2017

Jacob Barnett

PhD Student in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology

Jacob Barnett
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Research Area: Wild tomato evolution, ecology, and genomics

We are surrounded by life science, whether we realize it or not. Just look at the back of your hand - there are over 1,000 species of bacteria living on your skin at any given time, a fact that continues to amaze me. I am fascinated by the ecosystems that are both on us and all around us, from those bacteria on your hand to the towering trees of a forest. I am constantly curious, and scientific discovery brings me great joy. As a member of the Caicedo Lab at UMass Amherst, I am currently studying wild tomatoes from South America. I use genomic analysis as well as greenhouse and field planting trials to gain insight into the evolutionary history and ecological adaptations of these plants, with an eye towards crop improvement in a changing climate.
Before starting at UMass I was an educator for 10 years, including 4 years as a 7th grade life science teacher in Reading, MA; 2 years as a high school biology/chemistry teacher in Acton, MA; and 2 years as an environmental education outdoor instructor in New Hampshire. As a former teacher, I easily get jazzed about science outreach! I am active in the Life Science Cafe program (, and I help promote the That’s Life [Science] blog through social media as a member of the Communications Committee.