Professor Chris Simon, of the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department of the University of Connecticut, employs molecular phylogenetic trees to answer questions related to the origin, spread, and conservation of biological diversity. She uses cicadas and their microbial and fungal symbionts as model organisms. She has a special interest in 13- and 17-year periodical cicadas, New Zealand cicadas, and cicada deep level relationships. She and her lab group use NZ cicadas to explore the effect of landscape and climate change on biodiversity, periodical cicadas to understand the effect of life history on speciation, and cicada-symbiont consortia to understand how biodiversity spreads globally. Her early work was notable for elucidating the importance of accommodating patterns of molecular evolution (especially among site rate variation) during the construction of evolutionary trees. Her review papers have acted as a bridge between theoreticians and practitioners of phylogenetic tree building. She has promoted New Zealand science extensively, especially through her role as Editor, and President, of the Society for Systematic Biologists and has recently been elected an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of NZ.