Scot A. Kelchner, Ph.D.

Dr. Kelchner received his Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution and Systematics at The Australian National University. His other degrees include a B.Sc. in Animal Ecology and an M.Sc. with honors in Plant Systematics and Evolution from Iowa State University. He has been a faculty member at Utah State University, The Australian National University, and Idaho State University, where he won awards in teaching, mentorship and research. Scot has advised more than 35 undergraduate and graduate student research scientists since 2005.



Scot grew up in the forests of Maine, USA. After completing a degree in Animal Ecology at Iowa State University, he entered the field of plant systematics and worked on Andean and Brazilian alpine bamboos. He later moved to Australia and completed a Ph.D. at The Australian National University on phylogenetic methodology and the evolution of emu bushes, a group of mostly endemic Australian plants. His postdoctoral research included a study of ribozyme evolution at the ANU and a computer simulation experiment of partitioned phylogenetic models with David Swofford at Florida State University.

Dr. Kelchner's research is in plant diversity and phylogenetics, fields of science that infer the evolutionary history of organisms and biological molecules. Funded projects include an international effort to resolve evolutionary relationships among bamboos (National Science Foundation Award DEB-0515828), a collaborative study of grass genome evolution and phylogeny (National Science Foundation Award DEB-1120856), and the evolution of organellar non-coding DNA, particularly group II introns. His research on methods and theory includes the development of DNA sequence alignment approaches, and new methods for improving accuracy in phylogenomics, particularly with the use of phylogenetic networks.

His previous academic advisors include David L Swofford, John WH Trueman, Judy G West, Michael D Crisp, Lynn G Clark, and Jonathan F Wendel. Collaborators include more than 60 scientists in 20 countries.


Personal interests

Solo wilderness travel, Eastern philosophy, Indian cooking, history, dividing by zero


Academic Highlights

  • Teaching Excellence Award, Iowa State University

  • Outstanding Researcher Award, Idaho State University

  • Outstanding Graduate Teacher and Mentor Award, Idaho State University

  • Advisor of more than 35 undergraduate and graduate student researchers

  • National Science Foundation Award DEB-0515828 (Evolution of Bamboos)

  • National Science Foundation Award DEB-1120856 (Grass Genome Phylogeny)

  • Discovery of hairpin inversions in DNA

  • Developer of the event-based DNA alignment method

  • Cover article for Trends in Genetics:  Networks: expanding evolutionary thinking

  • Phylogeny estimation of bamboo chloroplasts:  Evolution of bamboos

  • Evolutionary history of Group II introns:  Phylogeny estimation of Group II introns

  • Chair of Research Council, Idaho State University

  • Graduate Council, Idaho State University

  • Advisory Committee to Faculty Senate, Idaho State University