I’m interested in understanding the genetic basis of phenotypic plasticity and adaptation, and I’m exploring these processes by integrating genomics, transcriptomics, and epigenomics to identify the loci and networks that underlie environmentally-labile phenotypes..
Ph.D. Candidate, 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.
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.
Ph.D. Student, Ecology
I am interested in how increasingly severe environmental stressors will affect plant physiology, reproduction, and survival. In the past, I have done some work with self-incompatibility, polyploidy, plant aging, and demography. I hope to combine demographic, phenological, and genetic approaches to understand how tradeoffs between survival and reproduction affect the maintenance of genetic variation and populations’ and species’ response to climate change.
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