Kathryn Flinn headshot

Associate Professor
Ph.D., Cornell University

Kathryn M. Flinn

Kathryn FlinnAssociate Professor of Biology

Post doc, McGill University
Cornell University
B.S., College of William and Mary




Ecology, Plant Evolution and Principles of Biology II — Ecology, Evolution and Diversity


Dr. Flinn completed biology and English majors at the College of William and Mary, where she graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with highest honors for her thesis on how harvesting impacts the distribution and abundance of American ginseng.

She earned a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University, where her research examined forest recovery on former farmland. While at Cornell, she received the Lamont C. Cole Award for the most outstanding published paper written by a graduate student. She then completed an NSF International postdoc at McGill University, studying wetland plant diversity. She began teaching full time in 2010.


Flinn is a plant ecologist. Her lab's research seeks to understand how biological traits, environmental conditions and historical factors, such as disturbance and dispersal history, interact to influence species distributions. She and her students apply this understanding to conservation concerns including the protection of rare species, the restoration of disturbed communities, the control of invasive species and the environmental impacts of agriculture.

Current interests include using tree rings to understand forest history and exploring the ecological impacts of earthworm invasions. For more information, please see the lab webpage at kathrynflinn.wordpress.com.

Recent Publications

Flinn, K.M., E.R. Bly*, and C.S. Dickinson*. 2019. Major changes in tree community composition and structure over 86 years in an old-growth forest. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 146: 87-95.

Flinn, K.M., T. Mahany* and C.E. Hausman. 2018. From forest to city: Plant community change in northeast Ohio from 1800 to 2014. Journal of Vegetation Science 29: 297-306.

Flinn, K.M. 2017. Invasive earthworms ingest and digest garlic mustard seeds at rates equal to native seeds. Northeastern Naturalist 24: 413-420.

Flinn, K.M., H.A.D. Kuhns*, J.L. Mikes*, E.V. Lonsdorf and J.K. Lake. 2017. Invasion and succession change the functional traits of serpentine plant communities. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 144: 109-124.

Flinn, K.M., J.L. Mikes* and H.A.D. Kuhns*. 2017. Plant diversity and community composition in eastern North American serpentine barrens. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 144: 125-138.

Flinn, K.M., M.M. Loiacono* and H.E. Groff*. 2014. Low reproductive success of hayscented fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula) regardless of inbreeding level or time since disturbance. Botany 92: 911-915.

Flinn, K.M., J.L. Bechhofer* and M. Malcolm*. 2014. Little impact of the invasive shrub Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii DC) on forest understory plant communities. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 141: 217-224.

*Undergraduate authors

Kathryn Flinn, Ph.D.

Dr. Kathryn Flinn is a plant community ecologist interested in ecological restoration, invasive species, rare species, ecological disturbance and succession, and the environmental impacts of land use change. She has recently focused on the pre-settlement vegetation of Cuyahoga County and how it has changed over time, local old-growth forests, the impacts of earthworm invasion, and tree-ring science. She has extensive experience with eastern US forests, wetlands, and barrens habitats.