My research is focused on biological questions at the interface of evolutionary biology, chemical ecology and community ecology. The long-term goal of my research is to expand our understanding of the evolutionary consequences of organisms living in mutualistic relationships. In pursuing this goal, I have looked at several systems and taxonomic scales and applied a comparative approach to my research.
My postdoctoral research in Dr. Sharlene Santana’s and Dr. Jeff Riffell’s laboratories at the University of Washington focuses on the Piper plant and Carollia bat mutualism. In this work I am using dynamic headspace adsorption and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry techniques combined with phylogenetic methods and behavioral experiments to study how the frugivorous Carollia bats use chemical signals sent by plants for the localization and selection of ripe Piper fruits.
My Ph.D. thesis in Dr. Naomi Pierce's laboratory at Harvard University explored the ecological and evolutionary context and consequences of parasitic and predatory insects whose ancestors were phytophagous, comparing and contrasting aphytophagous and phytophagous members of the butterfly family Lycaenidae (Lepidoptera), the blues, coppers and hairstreaks.
And my undergraduate work in Dr. Jon Seger's laboratory at the University of Utah looked at the genetic relationships of whale lice (cyamids) to gain insights into Right Whale behavior.
photo by Ada Kaliszewska