Lilly is interested in the assembly, evolution, and convergence of complex character traits in plants. Her dissertation research explores the evolution of Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM), a complex mode of photosynthesis that improves plant water use efficiency and requires multiple anatomical and biochemical modifications to C3 photosynthesis, the photosynthetic pathway found in most plants. CAM plants are ubiquitous in warm, arid, and semi-arid environments, and comprise ~ 6% of land plants, yet we still know very little about how the different 'parts' of CAM were assembled evolutionarily. To explore these evolutionary questions she is developing Australian Calandrinia (Montiaceae) as a model lineage for understanding how the CAM phenotype evolves from typical C3 photosynthesis. Calandrinia is an ideal lineage in which to reconstruct the evolution of CAM photosynthesis, as species within this group appear to occupy a bewildering array of the C3- CAM phenotypic space.