My primary research questions are: what makes organisms good at what they do and how does this help them survive? Specifically, during prey capture in many organisms, coordination between feeding and locomotor systems is important for correctly positioning the mouth relative to the prey to ensure success. In this way, integration is a complex but quantifiable whole-organism trait that can provide a significant missing piece in our understanding of the interaction between organisms and their environment. I have been using fishes as model organisms to answer these questions for the past several years, but have also worked with other aquatic organisms, such as marine mammals and sea turtles. My research program bridges traditionally distinct areas of functional morphology and biomechanics (feeding and locomotion), while also spanning disciplines such as physiology, mathematics, ecology, and evolutionary biology.
I am currently an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at Colorado State University working with Cameron Ghalambor. I am examining how adaptive divergence between populations affects use of the locomotor and feeding systems during prey capture in Trinidadian guppies (read more here). Prior to this, I completed my PhD at the University of California, Riverside with Tim Higham examining the fine scale details of integration within and between species of US native freshwater fishes. I also completed a Master's at Texas A&M University with Chris Marshall examining feeding kinematics across species of dolphins. In addition to these degree-associated experiences, I have also participated in several other research and animal care activities, including an internship at the NOAA southwest Fisheries Science Center. You can read more about all of these previous experiences here.
In addition to research, I am also passionate about teaching and outreach. Just as biology is an integrative subject, where we learn from diverse fields to complement our understanding of living things, so is teaching. I have had opportunities to fulfill this role not only as a teaching assistant and guest lecturer but also as a one-on-one mentor and by participating in several community and K-12 outreach programs. Read more about my teaching experiences here and my service and outreach here. I also wrote a blog post about my experience as a mentor for an undergraduate honors student here. With my postdoc, I have also had the opportunity to collaborate on a large project to use self-guided, self-contained kits that can be used by local teachers to supplement evolution education. You can read more about that here.
In January 2017 I will start a new position as an Assistant Professor in the Biology Department at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA. I see this as an opportunity to continue to bridge my research, teaching, mentoring, and outreach interests, and look forward to what is to come! Students interested in working with me should contact me regarding opportunities. If you're interested in graduate work, see my post here.