Ecology and evolution of mainland and island Anolis lizards
A wealth of research in the field of island biogeography has shown that organisms and populations living on islands are often quite different from those living on continents in many ways, both ecologically and evolutionarily. I am currently interested in understanding why that's the case, using Central American Anolis lizards as a case study.
Host-microbiome interaction in Ensatina salamanders
I completed my Master’s degree at San Francisco State University (Vredenburg/Zink labs), where I explored variation in skin-associated microbial communities (microbiomes) on several subspecies of Ensatina eschscholtzii salamanders. The field of amphibian microbiome research is relatively new, so for my project I set out to answer several basic questions about the host-microbiome relationship. First, are skin microbial communities are primarily obtained from the environment or other members of the population (or community)? Second, does the skin microbial community change over ontogeny? Third, how does the skin microbiome change across a hybrid zone? My first paper from this project was recently published in the journal Microbial Ecology, check it out here! Stay tuned for more publications in the future.
Honey bee gut immune mechanisms
For my undergraduate senior thesis at Barnard College I studied the gut immune response to pathogenic bacteria in the European honey bee (Apis mellifera) in the Snow lab. I used gene expression analysis to determine which genes were upregulated in response to ingestion of foreign (and potentially pathogenic) bacteria. I also characterized reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in the gut, which is thought to play a role in the anti-bacterial response as well.
Adaptation to urban environments in Anolis cristatellus
I spent the summer of 2012 in the Revell lab at UMass Boston through an NSF REU program. I assisted PhD student Kristin Winchell in examining population genetic structure and morphology of populations of Anolis cristatellus in forested areas and in urban habitats. The lizards are highly abundant in both habitats, but the urban areas present a significantly different environment in terms of thermal qualities, perch availability, and predator dynamics. We found that Anolis lizards in urban areas are adapting to these different pressures, and are doing so quite rapidly. The research was recently published in Evolution - check it out here.