• Assistant Professor, School Of Biological Sciences

Research Summary

My lab is primarily interested in a simple yet poorly understood question: How does the environment affect phenotype? We use a suite of methods ranging from chromatin biochemistry to epigenomics to investigate the mechanisms of phenotypic plasticity, and how it facilitates evolutionary innovation. Our primary study system is the Pristionchus genus of nematodes, which exhibit predatory or bacterivorous morphs depending on the environment, and provide a powerful genetic and phylogenetic toolkit.


  • Ph.D., Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL. Project: Non-coding RNA, chromatin, and genomics
  • B.S., cum laude, Molecular Biology, Stetson University, DeLand, FL. Project: Molecular Ecology
  • NSF Fellow; Research Experience Undergraduate (REU), Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame. Project: Cytoskeleton and Mitosis


Dr. Werner received his PhD in 2016 from the University of Chicago, where he studied the role of non-coding RNA and chromatin on gene regulation in multiple human cell lines. He continued this line of inquiry but on a larger and more complex scale during his postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Germany. There, he adapted his expertise in chromatin biochemistry to an organismal system that has historically been investigated in an ecological and evolutionary context. Dr. Werner has continued this integrative research program as an assistant professor at the University of Utah starting in September, 2020, where he aims to elucidate the mechanisms of environmental influence on phenotype, and its potential role in evolution.