"Like most mathematicians, he takes the hopeful biologist to the edge of the pond, points out that a good swim will help his work, and then pushes him in and leaves him to drown."-charles elton

Aquatic Research Pond, July 2015


About Rachel

I am currently a CAS Diversity Post Doctoral Fellow in the Integrative Biology Department of Oklahoma State University. I received a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology under the direction of Dr. Lawrence J. Weider at the University of Oklahoma. As concisely as possible, my working thesis involves using theory and experimentation to better understand how population structure influences community properties and stability. I am using Daphnia as a model organism, linking their life-history traits to communities through size-distributions. In other words, I get excited over equations and graphs, while trying to keep myself grounded in real systems.




Hartnett, R.N. (2019). Variation in life-history traits among Daphnia and its relationship to species-level responses to phosphorus limitation. Royal Society of Open Science. 6:  191024. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.191024

Other publications and educational resources

Hartnett, R. (2019). Importing Data into R. Make Teaching with R in Undergraduate Biology Less Excruciating, QUBES Educational Resources. doi:10.25334/Q4W161

Hartnett, R. (2019). Sampling Distributions and Null Distributions: two swirl lessons in R. Make Teaching with R in Undergraduate Biology Less Excruciating, QUBES Educational Resources. doi:10.25334/Q4KJ04

Patten, M.A. and R. N. Hartnett. 2014. Residual variance is no cause for alarm. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 12:545-546. pdf

Current Course Offering(s)

Experimental Design and Analysis in Biology. Spring 2020.

  • Course materials from Spring 2019.

  • Learning R with Swirl. Lessons that I have developed as well as other useful lessons be found here under the QUBES Open Educational Resources.

  • Textbook resources can be found here.

Previous Course Offerings and Available Materials

Introduction to Quantitative Biology, OU. Textbook resources can be found here

Concepts in Biology, OU. Current information by Mariëlle Hoefnagels can be found here

Limnology and Oceanography, UT Austin. 

Introduction to Genetics II, UT Austin.


For students

my mentoring philosophy

I firmly believe that good mentoring takes empathy as well as objectivity. My main goals in mentoring students are to 1) assess and adjust to student needs, 2) provide information and resources to achieve learning goals, and 3) support individual students to help them get to where they want to go. Strong mentorship led to my choice to have a career in STEM, and their modeling as professionals and people was instrumental for me. I hope I can provide similar opportunities for others.

students can expect me:

  • To take different learning styles, personalities, educational backgrounds, etc. into account and actively work on personalizing my mentoring style to best meet an individual's needs.

  • To use inclusive teaching practices and to stay proactive about identifying and addressing my own biases.

  • To foster their career aspirations. At the end of the day, each student wants to end up with the skills and education to land THE job.

  • To reinforce their understanding of experimental design and statistics, as well as develop technical skills in data analysis.

I expect students:

  • To let me know when they need help.

  • To make time to meet for individualized attention.

  • To engage in problem solving under my guidance, rather than expecting me to lay out the answer for them.

  • To self-pace themselves--leaving room for feedback from me and other mentors.

student resources

For OSU students, here are some potentially helpful resources: