I am an evolutionary biologist interested in the role of developmental plasticity in shaping offspring phenotypes, and how non-genomic, epigenetic sources of variation contribute to evolutionary trajectories, especially in rapidly changing environments. My PhD work with Dr. Robin Tinghitella at the University of Denver investigated the impacts of predator-induced maternal, paternal, and joint parental effects on offspring mating behavior, stress hormones, and gene expression in threespine stickleback fish from Washington. As a postdoctoral research associate at Michigan State University working with Dr. Janette Boughman, I examine sensory system evolution of stickleback from Iceland that are found in lakes with disparate sensory challenges and explore genomic and epigenomic patterns among populations. When I'm not doing research, I like to hike, camp, and hang out with my dog and cat. Thanks for visiting my website!
Predator-induced maternal, paternal and joint parental effects on:
Lehto WR and Tinghitella RM. 2020. Predator‐induced maternal and paternal effects independently alter sexual selection. Evolution. 74(2): 404-418.
Lehto WR and Tinghitella RM. 2019. Joint maternal and paternal stress increases cortisol in daughters’ eggs. Evolutionary Ecology Research. 20:133-144.
- Jenck CS, Lehto WR, Hunnicutt K, Murphy SM, Quinn TW, Larson EL, and Tinghitella RM. Accepted May 2022. Genetic divergence among threespine sticklebacks that differ in nuptial coloration. Journal of Evolutionary Biology.
- Bieber BV, Welsh GT, Vidal MC, Lehto WR, Lehmer EM, Tinghitella RM, and Murphy SM. Accepted Feb 2022. Disease ecology: can plant disease affect human health? National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science (NCCSTS). University at Buffalo, State University of New York. https://www.nsta.org/case-studies
- *Jenck CS, *Lehto WR, **Ketterman BT, **Sloan LF, **Sexton AN, and Tinghitella RM. 2020. Phenotypic divergence among threespine stickleback that differ in nuptial coloration. Ecology and Evolution. 10(6): 2900-2916. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.6105
- Tinghitella RM, Lehto WR, and Lierheimer VF. 2018. Color differently predicts competitive outcomes for divergent stickleback color morphs. Current Zoology 64(1):115-123. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/cz/zox070
- Lehto WR, Murphy SM, Vidal MC, and Tinghitella RM. 2018. Life Tables, Darwin’s Finches, and the Dynamics of Small Island Populations. National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science (NCCSTS). University at Buffalo, State University of New York. https://www.nsta.org/case-studies
- Vidal MC, Grenis K, Lehto WR, Tinghitella RM, and Murphy SM. 2017. Butterfly hunt: the role of density dependence in Batesian and Müllerian mimicry. National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science (NCCSTS). University at Buffalo, State University of New York. https://www.nsta.org/case-studies
- Grenis K, Lehto WR, Murphy SM, Vidal MC, and Tinghitella RM. 2017. Animals on treadmills: critical thinking and public perception of science. National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science (NCCSTS). University at Buffalo, State University of New York. https://www.nsta.org/case-studies
- Tinghitella RM, Lehto WR, and Minter R. 2015. The evolutionary loss of a badge of status alters male competition in the threespine stickleback. Behavioral Ecology, 26(2): 609-616. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/aru24
- Lehto WR, Ålund M, **Mazur M, and Boughman JW. In Prep. Parallel evolution of the lateral line is driven by ancestry and selection in novel environments.
*co-first author; **undergraduate researcher
Outreach & Teaching
I am committed to confronting, challenging, and changing systems in science that hinder diversity and inclusion. In order to achieve equity in science, I believe it is important to recognize the intersectional issues that girls and women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ folks, and individuals with disabilities face more broadly, in every realm of life.
As a graduate student and postdoc, I have mentored several female undergraduates. I have taken part as an activity creator/leader and counselor in initiatives (DU Femme in STEM and DU SciTech) geared toward sparking and retaining the interest of girls and specifically girls of color in STEM fields. I was recognized for my commitment to women and girls by the University of Denver with an Inclusive Engagement Fellowship (2014) and the Women's Coalition Robin Morgan Outstanding Graduate Student Award (2016). I have broadly impacted women outside of academia through my involvement in The Vagina Monologues (both at Michigan State University and the University of Denver), an organization that gives survivors of sexual trauma a voice and raises money for local, national, and international organizations for survivors of sexual and domestic violence. I also encourage and engage in open communication about mental health and wellness among my peers. My passion for activism and advocacy for underrepresented people certainly stems from my own experiences as a queer person and survivor living with mental illness; my ability to truly survive and thrive drives my professional and personal success. I carry these ideals with me when I teach, when I work with my colleagues, and when I mentor.
- Developmental plasticity, sexual selection, and epigenetics. Course: IBIO 415 Evolutionary aspects of behavioral ecology. October 9, 2019. Michigan State University; East Lansing, MI.
- Science communication: data visualization with Inkscape. Course: BIOL 4150 Topics: Science Communication. May 11, 2018. University of Denver Mount Evans Field Station; Evergreen, CO.
- Contextual and Developmental Plasticity of Animal Behavior. Course: BIOL 3410 Animal Behavior. January 17, 2018. University of Denver; Denver, CO.
- Contextual and Developmental Plasticity of Animal Behavior. Course: BIOL 3410 Animal Behavior. January 18, 2017. University of Denver; Denver, CO.
- Life Tables, Darwin’s Finches, and the Dynamics of Small Island Populations case study. Course: BIOL 2010 General Ecology. October 08, 2015. University of Denver; Denver, CO.
University of Denver:
BIOL 1262 Sustaining Life III Laboratory (non-majors). Spring 2019.
BIOL 1262 Sustaining Life III Laboratory (non-majors). Spring 2017.
BIOL 1230 Origins and Evolution of Life Laboratory (non-majors). 2013.
BIOL 1011 Concepts in Evolution, Heredity, & Biodiversity. Winter 2014-19.
BIOL 1010 Physiological Systems. Spring 2014-16,18.
BIOL 2050 Conservation Biology. Spring 2015.
BIOL 3250 Human Physiology. Summer 2014-16, Fall 2014-18.
Michigan State University:
MTH 103 College Algebra. Fall 2011, Spring 2012.
MTH 1825 Intermediate Algebra. Fall 2010, Spring 2011.