My dissertation research focuses on the roles of phenology and ontogeny in plant-plant interactions, and the potential long-term ecological and evolutionary consequences of these interactions. In addition to my dissertation research I am committed to working closely with undergraduate researchers and local science educators to aid in the accessibility and advancement of ecological research.
Ph.D. Student, Biology
I’m interested in ontogenetic niche shifts: how do the environments experienced by an organism, and forces of selection, vary across the lifecycle? For my dissertation I plan to investigate how natural selection during early life history stages in particular (e.g., seeds, seedlings) alters ecological and evolutionary processes, including the ability to colonize new habitats, and the limits of ecological and geographic ranges. I plan to study this topic across multiple scales—from a small scale, comparing the ecological niche of populations within a single species, to a very broad scale, through a comparative phylogenetic approach using multiple clades of seed plants. In my former marine biologist life, I studied an ontogenetic diet shift in an estuarine fish. I’m also very interested in natural history of the southeast.
Ph.D. Student, Ecology
My background is a blend of plant ecology, molecular biology, and community ecology. My goal is to use all of these areas to find answers for conservation and restoration efforts that will result in the most robust outcomes. I am interested generally in the effect of environmental cues on genetic expression and community ecology. My tentative ideas for exploration include looking at the effect of climate change on genetic expression and how those responses impact interspecies interactions like competition, pollination, or dispersal.
Visiting Scholar from China
My research interests are the role of seed morphology in seed germination, soil seed banks and dispersal, and the pleiotropism in plant life history. I have built a database of species to explore the affects of seed morphology in the germination traits, whether the morphology can predict the structure of soil seed banks and what role the seed morphology in plays in dispersal models. I am also interested in FLC, whether influence the relationship between the genes of autonomous pathway and germination on temperature is also my research subject.
Current Undergraduate Team:
Rafael Rubio de Casas: Postdoctoral Research Associate Grenada, Spain
Lauren Ruane: Assistant Professor Christopher Newport University
Katie Kovach: Instructor/Counselor, Schoolhouse of Wonder, Durham, NC
Logan K. Blair: Graduate Student, University of California at Davis