arrow grid linear view icon
College of Arts and Sciences

Leslie S. Babonis

By: Staff
A&S Communications
August 21, 2020

Name and title:

Leslie S. Babonis, Assistant Professor, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Academic focus:

Evolutionary development, the origin of novelty, invertebrate biodiversity

Current research project: 

I study novelty. Specifically, I am interested in understanding the developmental mechanisms that give rise to new animal traits as a means to understand the processes driving the evolution of biodiversity. One of my favorite projects aims to understand how cnidocytes (the cells that give jellyfish their “sting”) arose through co-option of a neural gene regulatory network.                

Previous positions: 

  • Research Assistant Scientist, University of Florida/Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience, 2017-2020
  • Mayor, Town of Marineland, Florida, 2013-2020
  • Postdoctoral Associate, University of Florida/Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience, 2013-2017
  • Postdoctoral Associate, University of Hawaii/Kewalo Marine Laboratory, 2011-2013

Academic background: 

  • Ph.D., Zoology/biology, University of Florida, 2011
  • B.S., Biology/marine science, University of Miami, 2003

Last book read:

“Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst” by Robert M. Sapolsky

In your own time/when not working:

Birding, cooking/eating, and learning about winter

Courses you’re most looking forward to teaching:

Invertebrate Biodiversity, Evolution

What most excites you about Cornell:

I am equally thrilled to have the privilege of working at a university that has been home to some of the greatest scientists and science-educators in recent history and the opportunity to engage with the current members of the Cornell community who are pushing science to new levels of excellence.



 Leslie S. Babonis

Related Department or Program