With a foundation in phylogenetics and phylogeography, my research interests have grown to investigating how interacting organisms have evolved. My current research examines and compares diversification of multiple parasite species from the same mammalian hosts. I am also going to investigate the diversity and host-parasite interactions of urban mammals in my new position at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
For my postdoctoral fellowship at the National Museum of Natural History, I worked with Anna Phillips and continued investigations into the chipmunk-parasite system I worked on during my Ph.D. I collected chipmunk and parasite samples from populations in the west with a known history of mitochondrial introgression. I generated genomic data for the parasites and am going to be testing signals of selection in the parasite genomes to determine if there is a signal of adaptation to parasitize closely related species.
I completed a Ph.D. in Biology with Joseph Cook, coadvised by John Demboski, at the University of New Mexico. For my dissertation research I used a combination of traditional and next-generation sequencing techniques to compare phylogeographic and phylogenetic relationships between chipmunks and their parasites. I uncovered a history of parasite lineages that are largely congruent with host lineages, but also being shaped by biogeographic history.
Between my master's and Ph.D. degrees I spent some time as a research assistant with John Demboski at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science working on a chipmunk phylogenetic project. While conducting that research I found that chipmunks are often infested with two species of sucking lice and infected with two species of pinworms, which led to my dissertation research.
My master's thesis was on the phylogeography and population genetics of two species of desert dwelling ground squirrels, the Mohave ground squirrel (Xerospermophilus mohavensis)and the round-tailed ground squirrel (Xerospermophilus tereticaudus). That research was conducted with Marjorie Matocq.