Research Interests

Overarching Interests | University of Minnesota | Emery Lab | Echinacea Project | Other
Overarching Interests
I am broadly interested in how plants are affected by human actions. People have changed their environment, and thus the environment of the species around them. These changes are not without biological impacts. I am especially interested in the urban environment. Cities are often overlooked as ecological systems, and their dynamics must be better understood if society is going to build sustainable, clean, and welcoming communities for everyone. This knowledge must also pay attention to the many social divisions that exist, and pay particular attention to those individuals often ignored by their affluent peers. For this reason I am especially interested in the ecology of urban environments that are impovershed and/or overlooked. These areas include high poverty neighborhoods, around overpasses, road sides, alleys, et cetera. My overlapping interests also include conservation, potential to adapt in the face of environmental change, local adaptation, environmental justice, and social justice.

University of Minnesota
Adviser: Ruth Shaw
How local is local? What potential do species have to adapt? Are species adapting to the roadside? How can we analyze this data? These questions and more occupy much of my graduate school thinking. Plus, I get to wander around prairies and along the side of the road for research, how cool is that!

Purdue Undergraduate Research
Research Mentor: Nancy Emery
I have been able to explore multiple areas of evolutionary ecology in the Emery Lab. I am currently working on the cytogeography of Claytonia virginica (Spring Beauty, Portulacaceae) in Tippecanoe County. Spring beauty is an abundant species, with habitats ranging from mature forest ecosystem to urban neighborhoods and city parks, and I am curious how cytotype affects this niche breadth.
I have also been involved with other projects in the lab including: competition trials among species in the genus Lasthenia, examining the effects of mitigation of the genetic structuring of the endangered species Limnanthes vinculans, and studying the phenology and pollination biology of Claytonia virginica.

Echinacea Project
Research Mentor: Stuart Wagenius
Along with assisting in the long-term study of Echinacea angustifolia (Asteraceae), I am also studying the interaction of the polyploid Echinacea pallida with the diploid E. angustifolia through reciprocal pollen crosses. In a restoration in Douglas County, Minnesota, E. pallida was planted instead of the native E. angustifolia. While already being pollen limited, the interaction of E. pallida pollen may further affect E. angustifolia's reproductive success.
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During high school I was fortunate enough to be able to take advantage of multiple research opportunities. I participated in the Howard Hughes Summer Biology Experience during three summers, assisted in a lab at Purdue during one summer, and during the last trimester of my senior year did a "Science Projects and Techniques" class where I was able to help on Selaginella genome annotation. I identified three sequences: MT1, MT2, and PseudoGSTU1.