I am a PhD Candidate with Dr. Carla Cáceres in the Department of Animal Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As an evolutionary ecologist, I am interested in understanding the patterns and mechanisms underlying biodiversity. My current research focuses on the following broad areas of inquiry:
- The relative importance of local versus regional factors in determining patterns of community assembly across multiple hierarchical levels (producers, grazers, and predators)
- When and how often do priority effects matter during community assembly
- How do feedbacks between genetic and species diversity drive patterns of local community assembly
In addition to my own research, I am passionate about engaging students in scientific research, and have developed and coordinated campus initiatives to promote undergraduate research opportunities. My interest in ecology stems from enthusiastic and engaging teachers throughout my educational career and my early introduction to the diversity of life found in Lake Fife, MI. Many do not notice or appreciate the abundant life that inhabits the waters that surround us, and we often take for granted the biodiversity beneath the surface. My goals as an ecologist are to promote awareness and to protect these important natural resources.