- Research Program Mentor
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
coral biology, environmental changes, marine ecosystems, applications of math to ecology, how ocean dynamics affect marine life, how organisms specialize for their environments, how hybridization affects the potential of species, using models to connect to real-world systems, interactions of social factors and the environment, spatial statistics projects, symbiosis, landscape genetics, microbial interactions
"Water" Your Beliefs?
Access to safe water is a pressing issue globally. However, people tend to have differing beliefs on what causes water quality decline in their area. Beyond this, people also generally tend to have similar beliefs to their neighbors, which can lead to pockets of opinions which may not reflect reality in a given location. I began thinking about this topic in 2018, when I worked with ecologists and sociologists to analyze this sort of data in Loja, Ecuador. This project would develop a model of two contrasting factors - the actual water quality in a region and people's perception of that water quality. By doing this, we can try to measure how misinformation may spread through a community, and how big the disparity between people's beliefs and reality become.
A Reef's Best Frenemies
Coral reefs are in global decline. A primary cause of this is "coral bleaching" which results in the white reefs we often see in the news. Coral bleaching is actually the breakdown in the partnership between the coral animal and tiny, symbiotic algae that live within its cells. Corals and algae have a variety of thermal tolerances which are likely decided by genetic and environmental factors. However, despite how important this relationship is, it's currently very poorly understood. This project would review existing literature on the symbiotic partner and try to identify factors that predict bleaching and thermal resilience.
The Future of Ancient DNA
Ancient DNA is growing more popular as our genetic sequencing technology becomes more advanced. Last year, the Nobel prize in physiology and medicine was given to one of the pioneers of ancient DNA! With it's increasing popularity, it's important to understand what questions ancient DNA can and should be applied to. There are many limitations with this type of data and a comprehensive review has yet to be done on best practices. This project would look at how ancient DNA research is being conducted across many species of plant and animal and summarize what the best way to do research going forward would be.