Kenneth E. Filchak Teaching Professor

Evolutionary Biology
Kenneth E. Filchak

Research Interests:

My research interests are quite broad, generally focused on evolutionary biology. As is now widely recognized, evolution is the background in which all other disciplines of biology should be viewed through. Previously, I have worked in the fields of vertebrate paleontology, mammalogy, and sperm competition. My Ph.D. dissertation and post doc work focused on ecological genetics and speciation using the Rhagoletis pomonella model system under the capable tutelage of Jeff Feder. More recently, I have become interested in the history of science and wrote a brief article on Father Julius Niewuland C.S.C., the founder of modern synthetic rubber. Currently, I have renewed my interest in adaptation and natural selection. Model systems such as garter snake (Thamnophis) versus newt (Tarichia), Caribbean Anolis lizards, Darwin’s Finches, and many others present opportunities to connect physical features of organisms to selection in nature. Finally, my curiosity concerning sexual selection and the special role it plays in evolution is always piqued.



  • Teaching Professor, University of Notre Dame 2017
  • Director of Environmental Sciences Undergraduate Program 2013-2017
  • Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C. Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching 2012
  • Associate Teaching Professor, University of Notre Dame 2009-2017
  • Assistant Teaching Professor, University of Notre Dame 2003-2009
  • Post Doc, University of Notre Dame, Insect Host-Plant Interactions 2001-2003
  • Ph.D., University of Notre Dame 2001
  • B.S. Zoology., Michigan State University 1994


Recent Papers:

  • Filchak, K.E., J. L. Feder, J. B. Roethele, and U. Stolz. 1999. A field test for host-plant dependent selection on larvae of the apple maggot fly, Rhagoletis pomonella. Evolution 53:187-200.
  • Feder J.L., & K. E. Filchak. 1999. It’s About Time: The evidence for host plant-mediated selection in the apple maggot fly, Rhagoletis pomonella, and its implications for fitness trade-offs in phytophagous insects. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 56:211-225.
  • Filchak, K.E., J. B. Roethele, and J. L. Feder. 2000. Natural Selection and sympatric divergence in the apple maggot Rhagoletis pomonella. Nature, 407:739-742.
  • Filchak, K.E., J. B. Roethele, and J. L. Feder. 2001. Effects of photoperiod and light intensity on the genetics diapause in the apple maggot fly, Rhagoletis pomonella. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 94:902-908.
  • Feder J.L., J. B. Roethele, K. E. Filchak, J. Niedbalski, and J. Romero-Severson. 2003. Evidence for inversions polymorphism related to sympatric host race formation in the apple maggot fly, Rhagoletis pomonella. Genetics, 163: 939-953
  • Funk D., K. E. Filchak, J. L. Feder. 2002. Herbivorous insects: model systems for the comparative study of speciation ecology. Genetica, special volume. W. Etges and M. Noor eds. 116: 251-267.
  • Jeffrey L. Feder, Stewart H. Berlocher, Joseph B. Roethele, Hattie Dambroski, James J. Smith, William L. Perry, Vesna Gavrilovic, Kenneth E. Filchak, Juan Rull, and Martin Aluja. 2003. Allopatric genetic origins for sympatric host-plant shifts and race formation in Rhagoletis. PNAS:100 10314-10319
  • Filchak K.E., W. Etges, N. Besansky, and J. L. Feder. 2005. The ecological genetics of host use in the Diptera. In The Evolutionary Biology of Flies. B. Wiegmann & D. Yeates eds. Columbia University Press. New York.
  • Feder J.L., Xie X.F., Rull J., Velez S., Forbes A., Leung B., Dambroski H., Filchak K.E., Aluga M. 2005. Mayr, Dobzhansky, and Bush and the complexities of sympatric speciation in Rhagoletis. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA. 102: 6573-6580.
  • Filchak, K.E., 2009. In Homage to our Founder; a Brief Biography of Reverend Julius Aloysious Nieuwland C.S.C. American Midland Naturalist. Am. Mid. Nat: 162, April
  • Feder, J.L., Powell T.H.Q., Filchak K., Leung B., 2010. The diappause response of Rhagoletis pomonella to varying environmental conditions and its significance for geographic and host plant-related adaptation. Entomologia Experimentalis ET Applicata: Vol:136, Issue:1, Pgs. 31-44.