Welcome to my website! I am a graduate student in Charles Mitchell’s lab, in the Department of Biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Broadly, I am interested in the ecology and evolution of host/pathogen interactions. In disease ecology and evolution, there is rising interest in how interactions among microbes within hosts influence disease… how do they affect pathogen transmission and infections, how do they affect genetic patterns within population of pathogens. These interactions have the potential to profoundly influence both host and pathogen populations. I am currently working to examine the influence of microbial interactions on pathogen infection and genetic patterns following transmission. I will address these questions experimentally by studying responses of a focal plant pathogen, Rhizoctonia solani, to microbial interactions within its grass host, tall fescue (Schedonorus arundinaceus).
I hope to use my research to engage folks outside of the scientific community, with particular interest in communicating my findings to those involved in the agricultural systems affected by this pathogen. Additionally, I would love to engage with K-12 students, using my research and scientific background to reinforce biological concepts that they learn in class. I hope to use this blog to communicate to a broad audience about current research, life as a graduate student, issues in scientific research, among many other things. Check back in to see any updates!
I graduated in 2012 from Amherst College, where I worked in the Miller lab, studying the evolution of the mating system gene, S-RNase, in island and mainland populations of Lycium carolinianum for my honors thesis. S-RNase is part of a mechanism that determines the ability of a plant to self-fertilize. I studied how allelic diversity at this gene varied among populations that were and were not self-compatible.
During the summer of 2012, I worked in the Vector-Borne Disease Lab at the Yale School of Public Health under Dr. Maria Diuk-Wasser. Our summer field work aimed to quantify the density of deer ticks in eastern Connecticut. Additionally, with samples collected from each of our field sites, we determined the prevalence of disease-causing bacteria within the surveyed tick populations.
From 2012-2014, I worked as the research technician of the Obesity/Metabolism lab under Dr. Andrew Greenberg at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in Boston, Massachusetts. Research projects in the lab aimed to elucidate the mechanisms underlying obesity and obesity-related complications. I was involved in projects using mouse models to understand proteins/mechanisms that regulate the cellular trafficking, storage and metabolism of fatty acids and lipid metabolism.