I am a plant scientist with an interest in how ecological inputs drive variation across connected and isolated landscapes. My most recent work is within the southern Blue Ridge escarpment, studying the population genomics of disjunct plants in the family Saxifragaceae, utilizing Radseq and High-Throughput Sequencing Technologies. My past experiences in Wetland Ecology, Endangered Species Conservation, GIS Mapping / Modeling, and Field Botany have kept me busy studying species boundaries across the southeastern United States, while a rooted love for the outdoors has allowed me broad field experience throughout North America and Europe. I share this love between my family and friends, and by working closely with students and colleagues on projects that explore my interests in all things natural.
My research involves high elevation populations of Micranthes Haw. within the southern Blue Ridge mountains. I'm interested in how adaptive divergence may be occurring at the microgeographic scale and what physiological adaptations and genetic changes occur due to isolation and the variable life history. As part of Dr. Vincent Richards' Genomics Lab, I personally manage a broad range of investigations that utilize various technologies, through direct supervision of individuals and hands-on methodologies in both computational and wet laboratories. My projects include: 1) Population genomics research investigating the high elevation population structures of southern Appalachian Micranthes petiolaris (Raf.) Bush via high throughput genomic sequencing and comparison of the data to a novel, low elevation population that has a unique floral morphology and shifted life history, believed to be due to microgeographic isolation, 2) Utilizing flow cytometry to quantify the genome sizes of M. petiolaris and 7 other Saxifragales within the region, and 3) Performing investigations on the ecophysiological traits involved in resource uptake and utilization (e.g. leaf gas exchange rates and instantaneous water-use efficiency (WUE)) of various field and greenhouse managed populations of M. petiolaris to infer the effect of microgeographies on variation.
My research interests include the ecology and life history of flora along transitional habitats (ecotones and species boundaries), and the evolutionary pressures, trajectory, and gene flow within these populations. I also have interests in the bio-geography and the co-evolution of other organisms (pollinators, microbes, etc.) within these areas.
My future research goals will focus on genomic sampling and dataset generation of flora along species boundaries and within isolated refugia, sky islands, and other unique geographies; how historic and current ecological selection has led to physiological variation and speciation; and elucidating the gene function of novel phenotypes through comparative genomics.
Some of the things I think are cool and worth exploring is the evolution of disjunct subpopulations and their biogeographical pattern of divergence across multiple taxa; pollinator driven adaptations in plant morphology and phenology; the functional trait evolution of common vs isolated/endangered sister species; and crowdsourced research & STEM integration with the public.
Clemson University, SC
BIOL 1050 & 1060~ Intro Biology Lab for Science Majors, Lab Instructor
BIOL 3201 ~ Spring Field Botany, Lab Instructor
WFB 493/861 ~ Plant Identification (Systematics), Lab Instructor
BIOL 4020/6040 ~ Plant Physiology, Lab Instructor
Anderson University, SC
BIO 160 ~ Intro to Environmental Sciences, Adjunct Instructor
BIO 170 ~ Intro to Life Sciences, Adjunct Instructor & Labs
SCI 101 ~ Intro to the Sciences, Adjunct Instructor