Joel Nitta

Project Research Associate

University of Tokyo


I am a Project Research Associate in the Iwasaki Lab at the University of Tokyo. I study ferns, an ancient and diverse lineage of vascular plants.

Ferns have a unique lifecycle combining two free-living stages (gametophyte and sporophyte) that differ from each other dramatically in appearance and physiology. This sets ferns apart from nearly all other land plants, and has important implications for their ecology and evolution. I am particularly interested in how different stages of the fern lifecycle contribute to community assembly processes, as well as fern ecology, evolution, and systematics generally.

I am also an enthusiastic adherent of reproducible analysis and coding, especially with ! Please see my blog for more stories about this topic.


  • Plant Systematics
  • Community Ecology
  • R


  • PhD in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, 2016

    Harvard University

  • MS in Biological Sciences, 2010

    University of Tokyo

  • BA in Integrative Biology and Japanese Language, 2007

    University of California, Berkeley

Recent Posts

A better way to go to Word from Rmd

Especially for scientific manuscripts.

Docker and Packrat

Of whales and rats.

Building R docker images with secrets

Keep it secret. Keep it safe.



Fern Species Complexes

Untangling patterns of reticulate evolution

Community Ecology

Determining community assembly processes in ferns

DNA Barcoding

Identifying cryptic fern lifestages using DNA sequences