Elizabeth G. Postema

About me

After growing up in Ann Arbor, MI, I relocated to Denison University in Granville, OH to pursue my undergraduate degree. Though I began my college career as a Studio Art major, I quickly found that biology was my calling. I studied a wide range of systems throughout college, from lemon sharks and rock iguanas to deciduous shrubs. I am now conducting research on insect color and behavior in the Animal Behavior program at UC Davis. When I’m not obsessing over bugs, I can usually be found spoiling my pet chickens, drawing sketches for The Ethogram, or writing poetry.

Elizabeth and the caterpillar army
Tracie and Elizabeth


Color is a visible fingerprint of the built-in complexity of ecological systems. The diversity of animal color patterns in nature reflects their many functions; color can help organisms avoid predators, attract mates, mitigate abiotic stressors, and more. In my research, I aim to demonstrate how animals integrate multiple, often conflicting selection pressures on coloration, using swallowtail larvae (family Papilionidae) as a model system. My work combines concepts and methods from several fields – particularly ecology, animal behavior, physiology and biological timing (phenology) – with my background in the visual arts to answer fundamental questions about the complexity, diversity, and ecological roles of color in animals.


Department of Entomology and Nematology
Briggs Hall 380K
University of California, Davis
Davis, CA 95616 USA


Fellowships and Awards

2021 Graduate Studies Travel Award ($1500)
2022 Phi Beta Kappa Scholarship ($10,000)
2022 Maurer-Timm Student Research Grant ($2000)
2022 Henry A. Jastro Graduate Research Award ($2900)


Postema, E. G., M. K. Lippey, and T. Armstrong-Ingram. 2022. Tackling complexity in animal color research: a response to comments on Postema et al. Behavioral Ecology:arac088. link

Postema, E. G., M. K. Lippey, and T. Armstrong-Ingram. 2022. Color under pressure: how multiple factors shape defensive coloration. Behavioral Ecology. link

Postema, E. G. 2021. The effectiveness of eyespots and masquerade in protecting artificial prey across ontogenetic and seasonal shifts. Current Zoology. link

Yang, L. H., E. G. Postema, T. E. Hayes, M. K. Lippey, and D. J. MacArthur-Waltz. 2021. The complexity of global change and its effects on insects. Current Opinion in Insect Science. link

…more to come