Nature is interdisciplinary. To best understand (and protect!) the natural world, we need to bring together diverse methods from evolutionary theory, ecology, molecular biology, mathematical modeling, behavioral biology, microscopy, mechanical engineering, genetics, genomics, and bioinformatics.

postdoc study organism

Current Projects

phd study organism

Past Projects

These projects may seem broad, but they are intimately connected. By studying behavioral plasticity in red-eyed treefrogs in the tropics, I acquired the skills in field biology to feel confident working with wild populations of animals across Utah, California, and other spots in the Intermountain West. After dipping my toes into gene editing in wheat at the USDA, I acquired the tools in sterile technique and functional genomics to (i) launch a project developing a novel barcoding platform in nematodes and (ii) start growing colonies of North American Lake Cress in borrowed plant growth chamber space at the University of Utah to study heterophylly in leaf phenotypes. As one last example, my experience as an REU student recording road noise and conducting audio playback experiments to chipmunks and songbirds in upstate NY probably helped to convince Karen (my future PI) that I could use Raven and Matlab to run vibration playback experiments to frog embryos in Panama.

I strongly believe that the value of “basic” science extends beyond its immediate products. While applied research is important to bring innovations to market, “pure” research in biology expands the knowledge base needed for breakthrough scientific advances. It is fundamentally worth our while to study the type of science that answers all the burning questions that the 5 year old deep in all of us pummels at us day long. I only hope we can keep that curiosity alive, the one that keeps us awake at night following the trail of leafcutter ants to their fungus farms or watching snakes not eat in a tropical rainforest.