Photo of Root Gorelick

Root Gorelick


Degrees:B.A. (Cornell), M.A. (Temple), M.S., M.A. (New Mexico State), M.S., Ph.D. (Arizona State)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 1586
Office:Office: 4625 CTTC Building
Lab: 4660/4665 CTTC Building
Website:Visit my lab website


Our research focuses on evolutionary theory of sex, cactus biology, academic freedom, and Indigenous sciences.

With evolution of sex, we investigate evolutionary origins of meiosis and karyogamy and the seemingly illusory dichotomy between females and males. Theory and empirical work antithetically show that sex decreases genetic variation, whereas mitosis increases variation, turning a substantial portion of evolutionary theory on its head. This works seems to be consistent with feminist and LGBTQ+ perspectives.

Our work in cactus biology focuses on reproductive aspects, especially on unusual morphologies. In conjunction with miniscule effective populations sizes in many cacti, this implies that many oddities in cacti are non-adaptive.

While philosophy is typically eschewed by many practicing scientists, our work demonstrates great value in considering Indigenous sciences, pluriversality, and why academic freedom should welcome Indigenous views (in general) and queer views on sex. Our finding that sex delineates (in essence, creates) individuals helps interject philosophy into biology.

Selected Publications

Gorelick R. (2021) A case for Indigenous sciences. In Indigenizing the university: diverse perspectives (editor: Widdowson F). Pages 215-221.

Gorelick R (2020) The Coryphantha sneedii complex is indeed complex and continuously intergrades with Coryphantha vivipara. Haseltonia 27: 40-59.

Gorelick R (2020) Chromosome architecture drives cycad evolution. Cycads 5: 23-32.

Gorelick R and Villablanca FX (2018) Meiosis decreases recombination load; mitosis increases recombination load. Ideas in Ecology and Evolution 11: 19-28.

Gorelick R, Carpinone J, and Derraugh LJ (2017) No universal differences between females and males: anisogamy and asymmetrical female meiosis. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 120: 1-21.

Gorelick R (2014) Indigenous sciences are not pseudoscience. Ideas in Ecology and Evolution 7: 43-55.

Gorelick R and Heng H (2011) Sex reduces genetic variation. Evolution 65: 1088-1098.