Within the first month of school our teachers at Earlham College had us tromping around the woods with meter sticks, quadrats, and random number tables. Later that semester we found ourselves leafing through dusty old journals in the library during our first attempt at synthesizing primary research into a comprehensible paper. During my junior year I traveled to the Bahamas with Leslie Bishop for a marine biology semester. Despite a great deal of protest I returned to Indiana, but with a newfound love of marine ecology. In the spring of my senior year I discovered birds through two of Bill Buskirk’s ornithology courses. The amazing diversity in bird morphology, ecology, and behavior blew my mind and I was hooked!
After graduation I started my first field job as a research assistant in northern Maine. I worked for Rebecca Harris and Michael Reed of Tufts University on a study of the effects of industrial forest practices on the behavior of black-throated blue warblers. In 1999 I was hired by Courtney Conway to lead a project on burrowing owl conservation in south-central Washington. In the fall of 2000 I joined Courtney’s lab at The University of Arizona to begin my Master’s research on burrowing owl nesting behavior. While in Courtney’s lab I developed a fascination with the evolution of life-history strategies. I also attended Alex Badyaev’s lab meetings where I began to think about the influences of sexual selection. I finished my MS in 2004 and spent the next year back at Earlham teaching Ecological Biology and Human Biology.
In the fall of 2005 I started a Ph.D. in Jane Brockmann’s lab in the department of biology at the University of Florida. My dissertation included several projects that integrated my interests in sexual selection, life history evolution, and behavior. Eventually I became interested in the proximate mechanisms underlying the adaptations that I was studying. In particular, I became fascinated by the burgeoning fields of evolutionary and ecological developmental biology.
After teaching Animal Behavior and Vertebrate Biodiversity for 2 years, I started postdoctoral research in Marty Cohn’s lab at the University of Florida in the summer of 2014. We have begun looking at the molecular mechanisms underlying the sexual dimorphic fin development in mosquito fish. This training will be a major step in the development of my research program in which I plan to study the proximate and ultimate causes of developmentally plastic adaptations.