J.P. Lawrence, Ph.D.

J.P.  Lawrence
  • Assistant Professor
  • Biology


  • LB 145: Biology II: Cellular and Molecular Biology


As an educator, I consider my primary job to be to inspire students to learn and give them the tools necessary to successfully pursue their own interests. Consequently, I use a variety of techniques to get students interested in biology, from real world examples, activities, and stories. At LBC, I teach Biology II: Cell and Molecular Biology which gives students the foundational knowledge and skills necessary to pursue careers in biology. While I consider myself a broad naturalist with many research interests, I am primarily interested in understanding how phenotypic diversity evolves. I focus on animals that have aposematic coloration, or warning coloration. This coloration is meant to warn predators of secondary defenses, like toxins. Evolutionary theory predicts that predators should select for few, distinct signals to better learn, remember, and avoid them. But there are a number of examples of species that violate this assumption, with few being more enigmatic than the Neotropical Poison Dart Frogs. I use these as models to understand how predation, unpalatability, and learning result in relaxed selection allowing for a plethora of phenotypes to evolve. This, in turn, helps explain the vast diversity of colors and patterns we see in the natural world.


  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of California, Irvine
  • Ph.D., Biology, University of Mississippi
  • M.S., Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University
  • B.S., Zoology, Michigan State University



  • American Philosophical Society Franklin Grant, 2019, $6000
  • Weaving the Future of Animal Behavior Grant, 2019, $2000 
  • Society for the Study of Evolution Congressional Visit Days Grant, $1194 
  • Australian Endeavour Research Fellowship, 2016, $17910
  • National Science Foundation East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes Fellowship, 2015, $10965
  • Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute A. Stanley Rand Fellowship, $3100

Ongoing Research:

  • Relaxation of selection that allows for polytypism in aposematic species
  • Toxin sequestration pipeline in the dyeing poison dart frog (Dendrobates tinctorius) and its implications for phenotypic divergence
  • Impact of mode of toxin acquisition on phenotypic diversity in Australian Brood Frogs (Pseudophryne)


  • Lawrence, J.P.*, B. Rojas*, A. Fouquet, J. Mappes, A. Blanchette, R.A. Saporito, R.J. Bosque, E.A. Courtois, and B.P. Noonan. 2019. Weak warning signals can persist in absence of gene flow. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116 (38): 19037-19045. *Equal contribution
  • Umbers, K.D.L., J.L. Riley, M.B.J. Kelly, G. Taylor-Dalton, J.P. Lawrence, and P.G. Byrne. 2019. Educating the enemy: Harnessing learned avoidance behaviour in wild predators to increase survival of reintroduced Southern Corroboree Frogs. Conservation Science and Practice. e139.​
  • Lawrence, J.P. 2018. Differential responses to forest edges among populations of Oophaga pumilio (Anura: Dendrobatidae) from Panama. Phyllomedusa 17: 247-253.
  • Bosque R.J., J.P. Lawrence, R. Buchholz, G.R.N. Colli, J. Heppard, and B.P. Noonan. 2018. Diversity of warning signals and social interaction influences the evolution of imperfect mimicry. Ecology and Evolution. 8: 7490–7499​.
  • Lawrence, J.P., M. Mahony, and B.P. Noonan. 2018. Differential responses of avian and mammalian predators to phenotypic variation in Australian Brood Frogs. PLoS ONE 13 (4): e0195446.​
  • Lawrence. J.P. and B.P. Noonan. 2018. Avian learning favors colorful, not bright, signals. PLoS ONE 13 (3): e0194279.


Personal website

Curriculum vita