Stephen P. Roberts

Stephen P. Roberts
Professor and Department Chairperson

Brooks Hall 219 (Chair's Office)
Brooks Hall 335 (Research Office)


  • B.S., Illinois State University, 1990
  • M.S., Illinois State University, 1992
  • Ph.D., Arizona State University, 1998
  • Postdoc, University of Chicago, 1998-1999

Teaching Areas

Basic Biology, Entomology, Physiology, Bioenergetics

Research Fields

Integrative biology of insects

Current Research Projects

My lab studies insects to answer basic biological questions such as:

  • How do animals fly?
  • How is body temperature regulated during extreme activity?
  • What are the consequences and tolerance mechanisms of organisms inhabiting extreme environments?
  • How do age and behavioral specialization in social groups affect senescence and longevity?

Our approach examines fundamental traits from ecological, evolutionary, molecular, physiological and sometimes even social perspectives to understand (A) the extent of variation in a trait, (B) the genetic/molecular basis for the source of the variation, (C) the consequences of the variation for the organism’s success in its environment, and (D) the evolutionary forces maintaining the variation.  Our research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, The National Institutes of Health and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Selected Publications

  • Vance, J. T., J. B. Williams, M. M. Elekonich and S. P. Roberts. 2009. The effects of age and behavioral development on honey bee (Apis mellifera) flight performance. The Journal of Experimental Biology 212: 2604-2611.
  • Frazier, M. R., J. F. Harrison, S. D. Kirkton and S. P. Roberts. 2008. Cold rearing improves cold-flight performance in Drosophila via changes in wing morphology. The Journal of Experimental Biology 211:2116-2122.
  • Williams, J. B., S. P. Roberts, and M. M. Elekonich. 2008. Age and natural metabolically-intensive behavior affect oxidative stress and antioxidant mechanisms. Experimental Gerontology 43:538-549.
  • Wang, X., D. S. Green, S. P. Roberts and J. S. de Belle. 2007. Thermal disruption of mushroom body development and odor learning in Drosophila melanogaster. PLoS ONE 2(11):e1125.
  • Sinclair, B. J., A. G. Gibbs and S. P. Roberts. 2007. Gene transcription during exposure to and recovery from cold and desiccation stress in Drosophila melanogaster. Insect Molecular Biology 16:435-443.
  • Roberts, S. P. 2005. Effects of flight behavior on body temperature and kinematics during inter-male mate competition in the solitary desert bee Centris pallidaPhysiological Entomology 30:151-157.