Anna Aguilera

Associate Professor
  • Biology
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(617) 521-2666

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  • University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA
    Ph.D. in Environmental Biology
  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
    M.S. in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
  • Brown University, Providence, RI
    A.B. in Biology

What I Teach

  • BIOL 104 Introduction to Environmental Science
  • BIOL 113 General Biology
  • BIOL 243 Environmental Sustainability (with LC201: Sustaining a Non-profit)
  • BIOL 245 Ecology
  • BIOL 322 Evolutionary Biology
  • BIOL 340 Plant Biology
  • BIOL 370 Internship
  • ENVI 200 Environmental Forum

Research/Creative Activities

My research is primarily concerned with plant community ecology in New England with a focus on the impacts and specific effects of non-native plant species. I am a member of the Ecological Research as Education Network (EREN), and work with them on a variety of student-based projects ranging from the decomposition of invasive species in aquatic and terrestrial environments, to investigating the association of the invasive plant Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) with woody debris. I recently became involved with the field site in Waltham, MA known as the Boston Area Climate Experiment (BACE). BACE was created by UMASS Boston and Purdue University, and is now co-coordinated by myself along with colleagues from Babson College and Tufts University. At BACE, I am investigating the competitive dynamics of two aggressive woody invasive plants, Celastrus orbiculatus (Bittersweet) and Berberis thunbergii (Barberry), and how they compete with different levels of drought. Also at BACE, I am examining the effects of soil moisture and nutrient addition on the growth of survival of garlic mustard, a predominant invasive species in New England.

Students working in my laboratory have been able to build on my research to pursue their own specific interests in a variety of ways. For example, my students have researched how invasive species decomposition influences macroinvertebrate abundance and diversity; investigated the phytoremediation ability of Alliaria petiolata in arsenic contaminated soils; studied the differential decomposition rate of “compostable straws” relative to other straws on the market.


Hornbach, DJ, KL Shea, JJ Dosch, CL Thomas, TB Garter, AG Aguilera, LJ Anderson, K Geedey, C Mankiewicz, BR Pohlad, RE Schultz. 2021. Decomposition of leaf litter from native and non-native woody plants in terrestrial and aquatic systems in the eastern and upper midwestern US. American Midland Naturalist 186:51–75

Anna G. Aguilera, Stuart Morey, Melinda Gammon, Monica Jiang, Saimom Ramos, Rick Kesseli. 2017. Effect of plant-soil feedbacks on the growth and competition of Lactuca species. Plant Ecology 218(3):359-372.

Anna G. Aguilera, Jesse Schreier, Cassandra Saitow. 2017. Using iterative group presentations in an introductory biology course to enhance student engagement and critical thinking. American Biology Teacher. 79: 450-454.

Anna G. Aguilera, Sara Williams, Tiffany Armstrong. 2016. Communication between two Lactuca species. Open Journal of Ecology. 6:767-774.

Aguilera, Anna G., Adan Colon-Carmona, Rick Kesseli, Jeffrey S. Dukes. 2011. No accession-specific effect of rhizosphere soil communities on the growth and competition of Arabidopsis thaliana accessions. PLoS ONE.

Aguilera, Anna G. 2011. The influence of soil community density on plant-soil feedbacks: an important unknown in plant invasion. Ecological Modelling 222:3413-3420.

Heidrun Huber, Eric J von Wettberrg, Anna Aguilera, Johanna Schmitt. 2011. Testing mechanisms and context dependence of costs of plastic shade avoidance responses in Impatiens capensis (Balsaminaceae). American Journal of Botany 98:1602-1612.

Aguilera, Anna G., Peter Alpert, Jeffrey S. Dukes, and Robin Harrington, 2010. Ecosystem impacts of the invasive plant, Fallopia japonica. Biological Invasions, 12:1243-1252.

Donohue, K., Lisa Dorn, Converse Griffith, EunSuk Kim, Anna Aguilera, Chandra R. Polisetty, and Johanna Schmitt, 2005. Environmental and genetic influences on germination of Arabidopsis thaliana in the field. Evolution, 59(4):740-757.

Donohue, K., Lisa Dorn, Converse Griffith, EunSuk Kim, Anna Aguilera, Chandra R. Polisetty, and Johanna Schmitt, 2005. The Evolutionary Ecology of Seed Germination of Arabidopsis thaliana: variable natural selection on germination timing. Evolution, 59(4):758-770.

Donohue, K., Lisa Dorn, Converse Griffith, EunSuk Kim, Anna Aguilera, Chandra R. Polisetty, and Johanna Schmitt, 2005. Niche construction through germination cueing: Life-History responses to timing of germination in Arabiodpsis thaliana. Evolution, 59(4):771-785.