Background and Research
I am a graduate student at Louisiana State University, working with the Chakrabarty lab at the LSU Museum of Natural Science. My educational background is in renewable natural resources and conservation (from my undergraduate degree at the University of Arizona), and in marine science and evolutionary biology (from my master’s degree at the University of Texas at Austin). Both of these degrees have shaped my research interests which focus mainly on the marine environment. I am passionate about understanding speciation, evolutionary processes and theories, and phylogenetics of fish. Within that broad category I am more focused on the evolution in marine fishes. I am also very interested in marine biogeography and marine conservation. By using molecular tools and population genetic approaches I attempt to grasp both macroevolutionary and microevolutionary mechanisms. For my masters degree I used tropical reef fishes as a proxy to gain insight on how evolutionary processes may work in different reef habitats during Pleistocene sea level fluctuations. Studying evolution and speciation will ultimately give us a better understanding on how species arise, persist, and vanish, which in turn can give humanity a greater perception and judgment on managing species today.
Currently I am involved in several projects looking at the systematics (or evolutionary relationships) of certain groups with disjunct distributions. We are now using so-called next generation molecular techniques, or genomic approaches, which sample larger expanses of the genome in non-model organisms. My current projects use this data in both population genomic and phylogenomic analyses. Alongside the genomic methods we are using statistical tests of ancestral area reconstructions, ecological niche modeling, and life history data to predict the historical biogeography of many disjunct species in the Indo-Pacific. Additionally, I am excited about the advancement of communication between the scientific world and the public. It is an area that needs a lot of improvement, and I am curious about new techniques of approaching this problem. I regularly volunteer at public events where the scientific community comes in contact with the public, such as the Explore UT events and the 2nd annual Feria para Aprender which connected the community of Corpus Christi, Texas with local scientist to get more science involved in primary education in the region. Since my time at LSU I have also assisted in Ocean Commotion every year which is a large outreach event for K-8 schools, and BIOS which is a program at LSU designed to prepare high school students for the transition to college. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments.