Nathan Swenson

Faculty Director

Faculty Director
094 Galvin Life Science Center/Freimann Life Science Center


Nathan Swenson is the Gillen Director of the University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Center and a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. Swenson completed his undergraduate degree at St. Olaf College before going on to complete his masters of science at New Mexico State University. His PhD, from the University of Arizona, was in ecology and evolutionary biology with a focus on global change. Swenson then went to Harvard University to complete a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship. He joined Notre Dame in 2021.

His research â€‹studies woody plant ecology and evolution in a dynamic world. Specifically, his research group leverages information regarding intra- and inter-specific variation in tree performance to understand and predict the past, present and future distribution of forest biodiversity. In pursuit of these research goals, the group follows two guiding principles. First, the team believes that the grand challenges facing scientists today require integrative approaches that draw from the concepts and techniques from many fields. The team achieves this within the lab by attempting to tackle problems from genomes to forest canopies. Second, the research approach necessitates the collection and analysis of large datasets that document the distribution and dynamics of plant species on a global-scale. These data allow the team to quantify the drivers of tree distributions and demography, which is an essential step for predicting the fate of individual species and forests in the future