Ecology, Evolution and Development
Historically, there has been much thought as to how an individual's environment and ecology (e.g., its resources, competitors, predators and pathogens) influence them, both developmentally and evolutionarily, to produce adaptive traits (Baldwin 1896; Schmalhausen 1949; Waddington 1959). With my research, I aim to answer the questions, How do environmental and endogenous signals interact to greate novel phenotypic variation? and What are the ecological and evolutionary consequences of this variation? To do this, I am specifically addressing the questions,
1. How do sex, tissue identity, and environmental conditions interact to create phenotypic variation?
2. What environmental or population parameters influence levels of environmentally dependent genetic variance?
3. How does niche construction constrain or enable population expansion into novel environments?
4. What is the role of environment-dependent epigenetic variation in local adaptation, and how can we use molecular tools to assess this variation across natural populations?
5. How do symbiotic partners constrain or enable populations from adapting to novel environments?
6. How does selection act on variation created by the interactions between genomes?
I completed my doctoral research on the origins and evolutionary consequences of cryptic genetic variation in Dr. David Pfennig's lab using natural populations of spadefoot toads. Currently I am working in Dr. Armin Moczek's lab studying the genetic, developmental and hormonal mechanisms that mediate interactions between environments and genomes using onthophagine beetles.