My research interest is in the evolution and extinction of plants. In particular I am interested in the role that Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) plays in these processes. Currently I am studying the effects of H2S on plant growth, survivability and the photosystems.
Current education: Graduate student - Advisor: Peter Ward
Previous education: Bachelors of Arts & Bachelors of Science (2009) University of Washington
I am interested in how plants sense and respond to environmental changes, and would like to use an approach that integrates scientific disciplines. I received my Masters in Forest Resources at the University of Washington under the advisement of Dr. Soo-Hyung Kim, working to understand how reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea), an aggressive wetland weed, will respond to increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Under our current atmospheric conditions, reed canary grass uses carbon to grow rapidly and shade out other plant species, but it also stores carbon in underground structures called rhizomes allowing it to spread into new locations. Reed canary grass is aided by fertilizer in agricultural run-off, and so I considered the effects of CO2 in conjunction with fertilization.
I am now pursuing a PhD in Biology, and will be co-advised by Dr. Kim and Dr. Takato Imaizumi (Biology Department) so that I can learn a broad range of techniques by which to understand plant/environment interactions. Plants, like all organisms, have an intrinsic clock which allows them to record changes in day length and temperature ensuring that important life events like bud-break or flowering occur at the right time. I will be working to understand the molecular mechanisms by which plants sense variations in temperature, and will use my background in physiological ecology to test our conclusions under more natural conditions.
Our research program uses the zebrafish and related species to answer a variety of biological questions having both basic and translational relevance. Current efforts are focusing on: the establishment, maintenance, and recruitment of post-embryonic stem cells in the context of normal development, evolutionary diversification, and melanoma; the genes and cell behaviors underlying adult pigment pattern formation and how these mechanisms have evolved between closely related species to generate strikingly different pigment patterns; and the molecular mechanisms of the larval-to-adult transformation, or metamorphosis, which generates the adult form.
We have additionally studied: the behavioral significance of pigment pattern variation; molecular and endocrine factors in skeletogenesis and kidney function; and zebrafish natural history in India. We also recently published the normal table of post-embryonic developmental stages for zebrafish, covering a period of profound developmental importance that remains woefully under-studied.
We use a variety of approaches including: transgenesis in zebrafish and related species; forward genetic screening and molecular cloning of identified mutants; time-lapse imaging of morphogenesis and differentiation; cell lineage analyses by genetic and other approaches; next generation sequencing for comparative analyses of species genomes; and analyses of gene expression by in situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry and qPCR. We have further developed or modified a wide variety of approaches to facilitate studies of post-embryonic development.
My research focuses on evolutionary issues involving the physiology, behavior, and ecology of ectotherms. I am especially interested in exploring patterns of physiological evolution over different time scales. My current research studies vulnerability of ectotherms to climate warming. Our analyses suggest that tropical ectotherms are especially vulnerable to climate warming, even though the rates of tropical warming are slower than in northern temperate and Arctic areas. We are currently revisiting former study areas in Puerto Rico, searching for evidence that recent warming has (or has not) had an impact on lizards.
I also analyze data on Himalayan mountaineers. I'm applying the analytical tools of evolutionary biology to study patterns of success and of death on the great peaks.