|Specialty Area||Recent Publications|
Ecology & Evolution, Conservation & Disease
Key Research Words: Evolutionary/ecological genomics, adaptation, coevolution, cancer, venom
Ph.D., Biology, Florida State University, 2016
B.A., Biology, Bethany College (KS), 2011
My research largely focuses on understanding the processes and mechanisms underlying adaptation, especially for traits mediating interactions between hosts-pathogens and predators-prey. Our research integrates ‘omics with field ecology, morphology, and other diverse data types to address broad biological questions in two co-evolving systems: (1) Tasmanian devils and a species-specific transmissible cancer, and (2) venomous snakes and their prey. The lab focuses on these systems because each possesses certain characteristics that enable us to advance our understanding of polygenic adaptation and coevolutionary dynamics.
First, because the origin of the transmissible cancer in Tasmanian devils is recent, we can map tumor evolution using phylogenetic tools and assess the fitness effects of genetic variation among lineages through functional genomics; additionally, we have different populations for which host and pathogen have been interacting for different numbers of generations, presenting snapshots at different evolutionary time points.
Second, venoms are genetically tractable despite being the products of many genes and function solely following injection into another organism. Prey have been known to evolve resistance to venoms, providing variable selective pressures through their own genetic variation; such characteristics provide great opportunity for genomic research on patterns and processes related to the (co)evolution of complex traits.