Laura Melissa Guzman

Gabilan Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences and Quantitative and Computational Biology
Laura Melissa Guzman
Pronouns She / Her / Hers Email Office Phone (213) 821-1864


  • Ph.D. Zoology, University of British Columbia, 2019
  • M.S. Ecology and Evolution, Imperial College London, 2013
  • B.Sc. Biology, McGill University, 2012
    • Liber Ero Postdoctoral Fellow, Simon Fraser University , 03/2021-12/2021
    • Postdoctoral Researcher, Simon Fraser University , 07/2019-02/2021
  • Tenure Track Appointments

    • Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, Spring 2022
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    The overarching goal of my research is to develop statistical and computational methods to leverage large biodiversity datasets to learn about ecological processes.

    While we know that the distribution of some species is changing, it is actually very difficult to make reliable inferences as to which species are declining and by how much from the often messy and complex historical and spatial datasets that we have to work with — for example, historical museum records, where species occurrences are aggregated from studies with different sampling procedures. In order to address this gap, my research focuses on determining if and how statistical models can be applied to historical records without yielding biased trends. In my research I also apply these statistical models to determine how the distribution of pollinators has changed through time, where museum records provide lots of information. I am also interested in determining which drivers (e.g. pesticide use, climate change, land use change, etc.) are causing the most decline of the most pollinator species.

    Another aspect of my research is to understand the processes that shape communities, for example I have combined experiments and modelling to understand how the structure of body size in a community affects the stability of food webs. In more recent work, I used large-scale simulations and machine learning to identify the signal of metacommunity processes in ecological time series.

    Research Keywords

    Ecological data science, Occupancy models, Historical museum records, Bayesian statistics, Plant-pollinator networks, Metacommunity ecology, Modelling

  • Journal Article

    • Guzman, L. M., Johnson, S. A., Mooers, A. O., M’Gonigle, L. K. (2021). Using historical data to estimate bumble bee occurrence: variable trends across species provide little support for community-level declines. Biological Conservation. Vol. 257, pp. 109141.
    • Guzman, L. M., Chamberlain, S. A., Elle, E. (2021). Network robustness and structure depends on the phenological characteristics of plants and pollinators. Ecology and Evolution.
    • Thompson, P. L., Guzman, L. M., Meester, L. D., Horváth, Z., Ptacnik, R., Vanschoenwinkel, B., Viana, D. S., Chase, J. M., for metacommunity ecology, a. m. (2020). A process-based framework and model for metacommunity ecology. Ecology Letters. Vol. 23 (9), pp. 1314-1329.
    • Guzman, L. M., Srivastava, D. S. (2020). Genomic variation among populations provides insight into the causes of metacommunity survival. Ecology. Vol. 101 (12), pp. e03182.
    • Guzman Uribe, L. M., Germain, R. M., Forbes, C., Straus, S., O’Connor, M. I., Gravel, D., Srivastava, D. S., Thompson, P. L. (2019). Towards a multi-trophic extension of metacommunity ecology. Ecology Letters. Vol. 22 (1), pp. 19-33.
    • Guzman, L. M., Srivastava, D. S. (2019). Prey body mass and richness underlie the persistence of a top predator. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Vol. 286, pp. 20190622.
    • Guzman, L. M., Pennell, M. W., Nikelski, E., Srivastava, D. S. (2019). Successful integration of data science in undergraduate biostatistics courses using cognitive load theory. CBE-Life Science Education. Vol. 18 (4), pp. ar48-es5.
    • American Society of Naturalists Young Investigator Award, 2022-2023
    • Canadian Society of Ecology and Evolution Early Career Award, 2022-2023
    • USC Wrigley Faculty Innovation Award, 2022-2023
    • WiSE Gabilan Assistant Professorship, University of Southern California,, 2022-2023
    • Diversity and Excellence in Doctoral Research Award, Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution, 2018-2019
    • Centre for Integrated Research, Teaching and Learning Scholar, University of British Columbia, 2017-2018
    • Centennial Prize in Ecology and Evolution, Imperial College London, 2012-2013