Melissa Plakke

  Assistant Professor
  708-235-6803ext. 6803
  Office Location:


  Office Hours:


  College: CAS

Environmental Biology - Master of Science
Biology - Minor
Biology - Bachelor of Science
Biology Education - Certificate
Division of Science Mathematics and Technology



Reproductive Biology
Developmental Biology


"I joined Governors State University in January of 2022 as an Assistant Professor of Evolutionary and Developmental Biology. Before coming to GSU, I conducted research as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Kansas while teaching courses at Haskell Indian Nations University. I completed my PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Pittsburgh and my BS in Zoology at Colorado State University.

In my research, I am interested in understanding how males and females of various species interact after mating has occurred. This interaction involves the sperm cells and fluids from the male and the fluids and reproductive tract of the female. By studying these interactions, we can gain valuable insights into the reproductive process which we can then use to explain how new species form or contribute to future treatments for human infertility.

I use primarily insects in my research, working mostly with Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths). I have also worked with manatees, snakes, cheetahs, elephants, and salamanders and look forward to working with many more species in the years to come!

In my spare time I enjoy reading, hiking, playing video games, and cuddling with my small army of cats."

-Melissa Plakke


  • Echeverri, S.A., Miller, A.E., Chen, J., McQueen, E.W., Plakke, M., Spicer, M., Hoke, Stoddard, M.C., Morehouse, N.I. (2021). How signaling geometry shapes the efficacy and evolution of animal communication systems. ICB. 61(3): 787-813.
  • Plakke, M.S., Walker, J.L., *Lombardo, J.B., *Goetz, B.J., *Pacella, G.N., Durrant, J.D., Clark, N.L., Morehouse, N.I. (2019) “Characterization of Female Reproductive Proteases in a Butterfly from Functional and Evolutionary Perspectives.” PBZ. 92 (6): 579-590.
  • Meslin, C., *Cherwin, T.S., Plakke, M.S., Hill, J., *Small, B.S., *Goetz, B.J., Wheat, C.W., Morehouse, N.I., Clark, N.L. (2017) “The complexity and molecular heterogeneity of a butterfly ejaculate reflect a complex history of selection.” PNAS. 114 (27): E5406-E5413.
  • Plakke, M.S., *Deutsch, A.B., Meslin, C., Clark, N.L., Morehouse, N.I. (2015) “Dynamic digestive physiology of a female reproductive organ in a polyandrous butterfly.” J. Exp. Biol. 218 (10): 1548-1555.
  • Meslin, C., Plakke, M.S., *Deutsch, A.B., *Small, B.S., Morehouse, N.I., Clark, N.L. (2015) “Digestive Organ in the Female Reproductive Tract Borrows Genes from Multiple Organ Systems to Adopt Critical Functions.” Mol. Bio. Evol. 32 (6): 1567-1580.

*denotes undergraduate researcher

Curriculum Vitae | Website