James Cahill, PhD

Professor, Faculty of Science - Biological Sciences


Professor, Faculty of Science - Biological Sciences
(780) 492-3792
B717a Bio Science - Botany Wing
11355 - Saskatchewan Drive
Edmonton AB
T6G 2E9


Area of Study / Keywords

Plant ecology plant behaviour community ecology conservation biology


Due to hiring freezes throughout the early 1990's, I am now one of the senior professors in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta. This is not an event anyone would have planned for, but it is what we now have. On the upside, I genuinely try to work for the public good, I care about undergraduate and graduate training, and I am still excited about discovery. I feel very grateful to be supported by taxpayer and tuition dollars to learn things no one in the history of the world has ever known before. I work hard to translate these discoveries to whoever may care to hear about them.


Current Research Interests

Research in the lab addresses a diversity of fundamental questions in plant ecology. We take a broad approach to research, with interest in plant behavioural ecology, biodiversity and community assembly, herbivory, plant social interactions (including competition), mycorrhizae, species invastion, climate change. Honestly, if its an interesting question I sure would like to know the answer.

This lab predominately uses an experimental approach to understanding. We enjoy the 'kick-the-tires' approach, utilizing it in both natural communities (e.g. native grasslands), and mesocosms (e.g. growth rooms and greenhouses). As a group, we test questions spanning the evolutionary and ecological spectrum, but in pursuit of basic understanding and to meet a given public need.

I am generally open to new students who are curious, and even more new curious students who can secure external funding. Please visit my lab home page to find out about any opportunities for graduate study. I am always interested in hearing from prospective graduate students at both the M.Sc. and PhD. level, as well as potential postdoctoral fellows and undergraduates. Admissions, and most funding sources, are available to students regardless of nationality.

Laboratory of Experimental Plant Ecology

Click here to visit


My teaching focuses on enabling students to take personal responsibility for their learning. I provide a diversity to tools and information for students in the classroom and the lab, and work with them to use these tools to achieve their desired goals. Students who prefer the history of science be provided to them (e.g. textbook facts) will be woefully disappointed in my courses.