Established in 2009, the LooyLab is one of about three dozen labs embedded in the Department of Integrative Biology (IB) at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB). Our lab is associated with the University of California Museum of Paleontology (UCMP—one of the largest communities of paleobiologists in North America with the most extensive paleontological collections on the western shores of the U.S.) as well as Berkeley's University and Jepson Herbaria (with 2.2 million specimens one of the finest in the world).
What the various research projects in the lab have in common is that they all fall within, or use aspects of Paleobotany, Palynology or Paleoecology. Although the bulk of the work is focused on the evolving plant-environment relations and the terrestrial biosphere in the Paleozoic (541–252 million yrs ago), some of the projects feature much younger subjects—all the way to the most recent past: the Anthropocene. Research avenues range from fossil specimen-based ones in the field or museum collections to data base-based ones in silico, and experimental ones in labs, growth chambers, green houses and the great outdoors. If you have a great unsolved, plant related mystery that needs solving, we will likely like it!
on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
We value and support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in biology, the geosciences, and STEM in general. We are committed to maintaining a welcoming and harassment-free environment for everyone. Lab members are expected to treat one another with respect and dignity regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, marital or parental status, age, disability or medical condition, physical appearance, ethnicity, nationality or immigration status, religion (or lack thereof), military service and veteran status, socioeconomic background, educational background or career stage.
We strongly encourage our lab members being vulnerable, open to change, and learning from mistakes; participating in self and peer education on racism, discrimination, and systemic injustice; actively being anti-racist, anti-discrimination, and anti-injustice, and challenging norms used that perpetuate the exclusion of minoritized persons. This includes actively recruiting and supporting students and researchers from underrepresented backgrounds and inviting people to speak up or out when they feel our shared values are being violated.
Cindy Looy (Associate Prof.)
phone: (510) 642-1607
Department of Integrative Biology
2033 Valley Life Sciences Building #3140, Berkeley, CA, 94720, USA
Packages and deliveries
UC Museum of Paleontology
1101 Valley Life Science Building, Berkeley, CA, 94720, USA
4101 Valley Life Sciences Building, Berkeley, CA
The lab logo
What is that thing in our lab logo? It is a drawing of an adolescent arborescent lycopod by our lab friend Hannah Bonner (the author and illustrator of awesome paleo-themed childrens' books; see our LabFolk page for more info). Lycopods are an extraordinary group of vascular plants that nowadays are ecologically, physically and taxonomically quite marginal and inconspicuous (represented by three orders: Isoetales, Lycopodiales and Selaginellales; comprising only 18 genera), but that ruled plant communities during the middle to late Paleozoic. Most notably as the emergent trees in the extensive swamp forests that periodically covered large swaths of America and Europe (then together as tropical Euramerica—smack in the middle of the supercontinent Pangea). These swamps intermittently dominated Euramerican landscapes during most of the glacial phases of the Carboniferous ice ages (359–299 million years ago). Sounds somewhat familiar? This may be why: 300 million years ago, these aquatic plant communities converted solar energy plus carbondioxide into organic plant material; the plant material was preserved as peat deposits in the vast swamps; over time, the peat turned into coal; the coal is what we dug up to fuel humanity's industrial revolution and to satisfy our hunger for energy. So if you switch on the porch light tonight, chances are that you are consuming solar energy that was harvested by our lab mascot over 300 million years ago.
The young plant that Hannah drew and that became our lab logo, is likely a representative of the genus Lepidodendron. These trees look already quite alien when they have obtained their well-known mature form (see Hannah's peat swamp landscape; the tree lose to the 65-cm-wingspan dragonfly Meganeura), but its allometric shape-shifting during growth is unlike anything else in arborescent plants. At first, growing from a central point, an extensive, partially photosynthetic, dichotomously-branching, rootlet-carrying organ of rhizomorph axes (a.k.a. the stigmarian system) appeared on, and rooting into the substrate. When a sufficient size was reached, in the center a leaf-bearing hump emerged, the top of which grew skyward, until the emergent part of the plant looked like a green, furry telephone pole. At maturity—a height of up to 50 m—at least in Lepidodendron the the tip of the pole would begin to branch dichotomously to form a canopy that carried spore-producing strobili at the end of the ultimate branches. Appropriately unapologetic—brazen even, but with dignity and as a token of its clade's extraordinarity—our lab mascot wears that awkward morphology of early lycopod puberty: to big for the hump-stage, yet to short for the telephone pole.