As a PhD student with the Center for Conservation Biology, I am studying the gut microbiome of reproductive female Southern Resident killer whales (SRKWs; Orcinus orca) in the Salish Sea. The mammalian gut microbiome changes dramatically during gestation, supporting maternal and fetal health, and SRKWs experience a high rate of spontaneous abortions and stillbirths. Using fecal samples collected by scat-sniffing detection dogs, I am tracking the SRKW microbiome throughout successful and unsuccessful pregnancies to characterize the relationship between reproductive females and their resident microbes.
I was born and raised in Northern California, surrounded by the beauty of the San Francisco Bay, Pt. Reyes, and the Sierra Nevada. I headed out to Providence, Rhode Island, to do my bachelors in ecology and evolutionary biology at Brown University. I graduated from Brown in 2016, but I study around Providence for two more years to do microbiome research with the Belenky Lab at the Brown Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology.