Austin Koontz

Austin Koontz

Research Consultant

Hoban Conservation Lab


I’m currently a Research Consultant working remotely for the Hoban Conservation Lab. Using population genetic data, I work with other members of the lab and folks from different botanic gardens and arboreta to inform the conservation of rare plant species.

Currently, I’m comparing two types of genetic markers (SNPs generated using RADseq, and more traditional microsatellites) and exploring how the choice of these markers effects measures of ex situ conservation. I’m using genetic sequences from two rare oak species (Quercus boyntonii and Q. acerifola) for the empirical data of this project, which is part of a broader effort by the Global Conservation Consortium for Oaks (GCCO) to protect threatened oak species. Links to the code for this analysis are below.

I received my Master’s of Science degree at Utah State University, where I worked in the Pearse Lab and the Wolf Lab. More information about the research I did in each of these labs can also be found below.

Download my CV.

  • Conservation Genetics
  • Plant Population Genetics
  • Long-distance bike touring
  • MSc in Biology/Ecology, 2020

    Utah State University

  • BSc in Neuroscience, 2014

    University of Nevada, Reno


Research Consultant
Nov 2023 – Present Eugene, OR
I’m currently a Research Consultant for the Hoban Lab, where I continue to support the projects I worked on in my prior role as a Research Assistant with the Morton Arboretum. I also collaborate with researchers at other botanic gardens and arboreta, and serve as the system administrator for the Hoban Lab Linux server.
Morton Arboretum
Research Assistant II
Jul 2021 – Oct 2023 Lisle, IL
In my previous role with the Morton Arboretum, I conducted genetic analyses for projects focused on the conservation and management of rare trees, both in wild (in situ) and garden (ex situ) scenarios.
Hamilton Robotics
Applications Specialist
Jan 2015 – May 2018 Reno, NV
As an Applications Specialist, I wrote and supported method scripts for customers in the OEM setting and internally, for standardized laboratory protocols. I served as the primary application resource for customers from product development to launch, and worked with hardware and software engineers to design automation solutions.


Ex situ conservation of oaks using RADseq vs. microsatellite markers
With the Hoban Lab at the Morton Arboretum, I’m performing a comparison of RADseq and microsatellite data, to see how different genetic markers may impact ex situ conservation recommendations for threatened trees. The empirical data for this project comes from two endemic US oaks, Quercus boyntonii and Q. acerifolia. This work is part of the larger Global Conservation Consortium of Oaks, and is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
SymbiotaR2 R package
The NSF-ABI project Symbiota2 updates the structure of the widely used Symbiota software platform, a biodiversity data management tool. I’ve developed an R package that allows users to access Symbiota2 function calls within the R environment. This package is now part of ROpenSci!


(2022). AREAdata: A worldwide climate dataset averaged across spatial units at different scales through time. JOSS.

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(2021). Strong trait correlation and phylogenetic signal in North American ground beetle (Carabidae) morphology. Ecosphere.

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(2020). SymbiotaR2: An R Package for Accessing Symbiota2 Data. JOSS.

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