Welcome to Arkansas State University!

Professor of Botany

Curator, STAR Herbarium


  • PhD - 2009 - Biology, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN
  • MS - 2004 - Biology, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 
  • BS - 2001 - Biology, Arkansas Tech University, Russellville, AR

Research Interests

Natural History, Biogeography, Floristics, Species Invasions, and Conservation

In the Marsico lab we are interested in the causes and consequences of ecological community assembly, species invasions, and how species can be conserved in a world undergoing rapid environmental change.  We focus on how evolutionary history impacts the ecological interactions of native and introduced organisms.  We make and utilize plant collections and deposited vouchers in specimen-based research to answer questions about biodiversity patterns along environmental gradients and invasion, with a goal of improving conservation priorities and land management strategies.  Additional research includes development of improved teaching strategies and assessment of student learning gains.  Students in the laboratory have studied a range of topics including plant defense ecology and secondary defense compounds elicited by moth herbivory, causes and consequences of Chinese privet invasion in riparian areas, impacts of water quality and land use on swamp diatom communities, and digitization of natural history collections to make available important resources for the study of evolutionary and ecological questions.


  • Association of Southeastern Biologists (life member)
  • Botanical Society of America

  • North American Network of Small Herbaria (NANSH)

  • Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections

  • Society of Herbarium Curators (life member)

Teaching/Learning Philosophy

Dr. Marsico involves active and project-based learning in his classes.  He encourages students to immerse themselves in subject matter content mastery by reading scientific news articles, peer-reviewed literature, and course-relevant text books and by talking about science with peers and friends.  In short, successful university students are those who are excited by learning for learning’s sake and who view themselves as life-long learners.


Dr. Marsico’s research focuses on biogeography, biodiversity conservation, natural history, and species invasions. He currently researches risk associated with hitchhiking plant propagules at US shipping ports, invasion of herbivorous insect pests, plant diversity patterns in fragmented landscapes of the Upper Mississippi River Alluvial Plain, and plant diversity patterns along elevation gradients in the Neotropics.  His research emphasizes making and utilizing natural history collections in research.  He also studies biology education and improvements to university-level education utilizing specimen-based projects in coursework.  He has been a faculty member at Arkansas State University for 10 years, where he teaches Curation of Collections, Dendrology, Natural History Collections Research Design, and Plant Systematics.  At A-State, he curates the herbarium and manages the Laboratory Sciences Greenhouse.