Associate Professor

Office Location 
Science Hall 324A
Mailing Address 
2083 Lawrenceville Road , Lawrenceville, NJ 08648

Laura Hyatt

A.B., Smith College; Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania. Her research examines the population biology and ecology of invasive plant species. Dr. Hyatt joined the faculty in 2002.


  • 1999-2002 Research Assistant Professor, Postdoctoral Associate, Instructor, SUNY Stony Brook Department of Ecology and Evolution. Stony Brook, NY
  • 1998 Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY
  • 1996 Ph.D Biology, University of Pennsylvania 1989 A. B., Biology, Smith College

Research Interests

Research in Dr. Hyatt's laboratory is aimed at understanding why and how some exotic plants establish populations that grow very rapidly and alter recipient communities and ecosystems. Studying biological invasions has important basic and applied consequences. Not only does an understanding of the ecology of exotic species provide important insights into how complex ecological systems function and but it also assists in the development of intelligent control programs grounded in basic principles of ecological dynamics.

We are also interested in the properties possessed by ecosystems that are especially susceptible to being altered by the introduction of novel species. Bringing these two approaches together gives us a more comprehensive view of the biological invasion process and gives us novel insights into the regulation of all kinds of ecosystems, invaded or not

Research Funding

  • NSF/MRI: Acquisition of a Simultaneous ICP-OES for Research and Teaching.  F. Chen, J. Husch, L. Hyatt, R. Schwimmer, H. Sun.  $100,207.
  • Paid Research Leave, Rider University, Fall 2009.  “Chemical and Demographic Dimensions of Biological Invasion by Alliaria petiolata, Garlic Mustard”.
  • Summer Developmental Fellowship. 2008.  Sustainability in the Curriculum: Resource Development and Integration.  $7500.
  • Mazzotti Award for Women's Leadership.  2008. $8500.   Attended Stanford University's Business School Executive Program for Women Leaders.
  • Merck/AAAS Undergraduate Research Program, awarded to University for undergraduate research in chemistry and biology. $60,000. 2004-2007.
  • National Science Foundation, Environmental Variation and Demographic Effects, $120,434, 2004-2007. NSF/REU Supplement $4,725, Summer 2004

Courses Taught

  • SUS 100 and 100L: Introduction to Sustainability Studies
  • BIO 116: Principles of Biology II
  • BHP 231: Honors seminar: Natural Adventures
  • BIO 350: General Ecology
  • BIO 335: Modern Plant Biology
  • BIO 103: Life Science: Ecobotanical Emphasis.
  • ENV 100L: Introduction to Environmental Science Laboratory
  • BIO 250: Field Natural History
  • BIO 450: Senior Seminar in Organismal Biology

Independent Projects

The main project in this lab is focused on understanding how the availability of limiting resources regulates population growth in the invasive Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard). A. petiolata has begun to invade some intact forest understories, outcompeting native plants for light and resources and by understanding how plant life history is influenced by these resources we can develop highly effective control strategies.

Literature-based Projects

Although Dr. Hyatt encourages field-based independent work, literature-based research projects are also possible and may cover a broad array of topics. Dr. Hyatt's interests include issues related to global change, conservation, ethnobotany, weed ecology, plant mating systems, the ethics of genetic engineering, the economics of food production, plant secondary compounds, seed and soil ecology including microbe-plant interactions, biological control, and demographic models. Students may also become involved in sustainability initiatives, greenhouse projects, learning horticultural techniques.

Selected Publications

  • Hyatt, L.A. in press, 2015. Plastic Dinosaurs.  Chapter in Learner-centered Teaching Activities for Environmental and Sustainability Studies. L. Byrne, Editor, Springer-Verlag.
  • Hyatt, L.A., D. Hafer, K. Jaworski, R. Nangle and C. Sinkler in review. Use of effluent from an aerobic digester as fertilizer for landscaping plants.
  • Browne, K.M., L.A. Hyatt, R.S. Kertes, T. Scudder, R. Huffman, D. Palmer in review for American Midland Naturalist. Strategy for Managing Lythrum salicaria Invasion of Wetland Restoration Projects.
  • Hyatt, L.A. 2012 IBI Science Prizewinner: Personal Plants: Making Botany Meaningful by Experimentation. Science 28:337 1620-1621.
  • Hewins, D. B. and Hyatt, L.A. 2010 Flexible N uptake and assimilation mechanisms may assist biological invasion by Alliaria petiolata Volume 12, Number 8, 2639-2647.
  • Hyatt, L.A. 2008 Does seedling ecology matter for biological invasions? Book chapter for Seedling Ecology and Evolution by M.A. Leck, V.T. Parker and R. Simpson, Cambridge University Press.
  • Picone, C., J. Rhode, L. Hyatt, T. Parshall.  June 2007, posting date. Assessing Gains in Undergraduate Students' Abilities to Analyze Graphical Data. Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology, Vol. 5: Research #1 [online]
  • Hyatt, L.A. and S. Araki. 2006. Comparative demography of Polygonum perfoliatum in its native and novel habitats. Biological Invasions 8: 261-275.
  • Ashton, I.W., L.A. Hyatt, K.M. Howe, J. Gurevitch, M.T. Lerdau.  2005. Exotic and native leaf litter decomposition in invaded and uninvaded forest communities.  Ecological Applications 15:1263-1272.
  • Funk, J., C. Jones, D. Gray, H. Throop, L. Hyatt, and M. Lerdau. 2005. Variation in isoprene emission from Quercus rubra: sources, causes, and consequences for estimating fluxes. Journal Geophysical Research 110.
  • Howard, T., J. Gurevitch, L. Hyatt, M. Carreiro, M. Lerdau 2004.  Forest invasibility in communities in southeastern New York.  Biological Invasions 6: 393-410.
  • Hyatt, L. A., M. S. Rosenberg, T. G. Howard, G. Bole, W. Fang, J. Anastasia, K. Brown, R. Grella, K. Hinman, J. Kurdziel, and J. Gurevitch. 2003. The distance dependence prediction of the Janzen-Connell hypothesis: A meta-analysis. Oikos 103(3):590-602.
  • Hyatt, L.A. and B.B. Casper. 2000. Seed bank formation during early succession in a temperate deciduous forest. Journal of Ecology 88:516-527.
  • Sher, A.A. and L.A. Hyatt 1999. The Disturbed Resource-Flux Invasion Matrix for Predicting Plant Invasions. Biological Invasions 1: 107-114.
  • Hyatt, L.A., A.S. Evans. and C. Baskin. 1999. Annual dormancy cycles in Lesquerella fendleri (Brassicaceae) seeds stored under both field and laboratory conitions. Canadian Journal of Botany 77: 1648-1654.
  • Hyatt, L.A. 1999. Differences Between Seed Bank Composition and Field Recruitment in a Temperate Zone Deciduous Forest. American Midland Naturalist 142:31-38.
  • Hyatt, L.A. and A.S. Evans 1998. Is Decreased Germination Fraction Associated with Risk of Sibling Competition? Oikos 83:29-35.
  • Hyatt, L.A. 1998. Spatial patterns and causes of overwinter seed mortality. Canadian Journal of Botany 76: 197-203.
  • Casper, B.B, J.C. Cahill and L.A. Hyatt, 1998. Belowground consequences of aboveground crowding in populations of Abutilon theophrasti Medic. New Phytologist 140: 231-238.