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e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Faculty Spotlight – Dr. Cynthia J. Downs 10/28/2021


Meet Dr. Cynthia J. Downs! Dr. Cynthia J. Downs joined ESF as an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Biology in August 2019.

Downs is an ESF graduate, having earned her B.S. from the College before pursuing her Ph.D. in ecology evolution and conservation biology at the University of Nevada, Reno.

An ecological physiologist, Downs' research focuses on scaling and tradeoffs in animal physiology, particularly regarding immune defenses within an ecological or evolutionary context. She investigates how the diverse physiological traits expressed by animals alter an animal's interaction with its environment and mediates the animal's ecology, population dynamics and evolutionary trajectories. Her research lab works to understand mechanisms that mediate physiological traits and trade-offs, how physiological traits determine life histories and population dynamics, and how environmental conditions affect physiological phenotypes.

She teaches Animal Physiology: Environmental and Ecological, and Principles of Animal Behavior.

Having completed her undergraduate degree as an environmental forest biology major at ESF, Downs is glad to be back at her alma mater as a faculty member. "ESF shaped how I see the world, and the professors at ESF encouraged me to pursue a career in science," she said. "I'm so happy to be back in this unique community and to have the opportunity to pay forward the mentoring I received."