Angela Smilanich

Associate Professor
Headshot of Angela Smilanich


Dr. Angela M. Smilanich grew up in Grand Junction, Colorado and attended Colorado Mesa University, receiving a Bachelor’s of Science in 2002. After getting the opportunity to do research in the Costa Rican rainforest as an undergraduate, she was hooked on research, and continued on to a Ph.D program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Tulane University in New Orleans. After weathering Hurricane Katrina and yearly Mardi Gras events, she graduated in 2008, then continued on to a postdoctoral position at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. After two years in Connecticut, she moved to Reno, Nevada and officially joined the Department of Biology at the University of Nevada, Reno in 2013. Her research is dedicated to studying the intricate interactions between insects and their environment (mostly plants). Outside of work, she enjoys the outdoors with her husband, especially large rocks worthy of climbing, and playing with her 8-year-old son, Hank.

Research interests

  • Ecological immunology
  • Disease ecology
  • Chemical ecology

Courses taught

  • BIOL 100A - Biology (Non-majors)
  • BIOL 394  - Ecology Lab
  • EECB 703 - Principles of Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology


  • Postdoctoral research, Wesleyan University, 2008-2010
  • Ph.D., Ecology and Evolution, Tulane University, 2008
  • B.S., Colorado Mesa University, 2002

Selected publications

  • ND Muchoney, MD Bowers, AL Carper, MB Teglas, AM Smilanich. Use of an exotic host plant reduces viral burden in a native insect herbivore. Ecology Letters 26 (3), 425-436.
  • ME Gallon, AM Smilanich. Effects of Host Plants on Development and Immunity of a Generalist Insect Herbivore. Journal of Chemical Ecology 49 (3-4), 142-154.
  • ND Muchoney, MD Bowers, AL Carper, PA Mason, MB Teglas, AM Smilanich. Use of an exotic host plant shifts immunity, chemical defense, and viral burden in wild populations of a specialist insect herbivore. Ecology and Evolution 12 (3), e8723.
  • SA Yoon, JG Harrison, AM Smilanich, ML Forister. Experimental removal of extracellular egg‐associated microbes has long‐lasting effects for larval performance. Functional Ecology 36 (12), 3248-3258.
  • AM Smilanich, ND Muchoney. Host plant effects on the caterpillar immune response. Caterpillars in the Middle: Tritrophic interactions in a changing world, 449-484.