I am a biologist with primary interests in ecology and evolutionary biology. My research addresses the process of adaptive evolution, its mechanistic basis, and its ecological consequences for populations, communities and ecosystems. I study the phenotypic and genetic mechanisms by which populations of organisms adapt to their environment, and the impacts that evolution in critical species has on ecological communities and ecosystem properties. My study systems include natural freshwater ecosystems and model laboratory microcosms, with a particular emphasis on the water flea Daphnia. I employ diverse methods including field sampling and manipulative laboratory experiments with freshwater zooplankton, population genetics and genomics, gene expression profiling, and mathematical modeling. In my Ph.D. research with Ben Kerr at the University of Washington in Seattle, I investigated ultraviolet radiation tolerance in populations of Daphnia melanica inhabiting shallow subalpine ponds in the Olympic Mountains (pictured at right). I continue to study the ecology and genomics of these populations as part of an ongoing collaboration with Mike Pfrender at Notre Dame University
In my postdoctoral work and ongoing collaboration with Nelson Hairston’s laboratory at Cornell University, I explore how the impacts of evolutionary change within populations can scale up to impact communities and ecosystems, using laboratory microcosms and experimental ponds.
New Course for Spring 2015
- BIOL- 20402 Selected Topics: Freshwater Ecology (Ecology of Lakes)
4 credits: 3 hours lecture, 3 hours lab,
Prerequisite: Principles of Biology II (BIOL 122)
We’ve all seen lakes, but what goes on under the surface? It is a realm filled with intricate interactions among species, and between organisms and the physical and chemical characteristics of their environment. What causes toxic algal blooms? Why is the swimming in Cayuga Lake warm one day and then cold the next? Why is the fishing better in one lake versus another? What are the human impacts on lakes, and how can these be modified or improved? Beyond being interesting in their own right, lakes and ponds provide excellent environments for gaining enhanced understanding of fundamental ecological and evolutionary processes. Labs will involve short field trips to local aquatic environments.